I’ve had some wonderful nights in theatre and I’m going to admit to you that up to now the best have really been when it’s been my own material on stage. Sitting in an audience, feeling them laugh and choke, knowing that an idea you had in your head is now working. Does it honestly get better?
On Saturday night I was at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds where my wife Angela Gallagher’s first-ever play, Rainwatching was performed.
You can’t imagine how good it was. It went down a hurricane. Rainwatching closed out the whole festival of new writing and when the lights came up, the audience was in tears. There was a writer/actor/audience discussion panel right after it and most of the other plays were skipped over in seconds but Angela’s was all anyone wanted to discuss. I may be biased there, but still.
The piece is a very raw, apparently simple but truly rich and very powerful monologue about a cancer patient with a right git of a husband. And during the panel discussion, the theatre announced to the audience that Rainwatching was to be restaged over the summer – in a trilogy including a monologue for the git husband.
I’ve written that. And I’ve written the final part of the trilogy, a piece about another character in both the first two monologues. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
It’s funny but one of the strongest reactions on Saturday night was about this husband character, Len, who we only hear about, we never see in Angela’s Rainwatching. And another strong reaction was to the idea of seeing him in mine: everybody wants to see him, everybody wants to hear his side. But women who had been cheery with me until this point, positively turned on me: challenging me, I mean really threateningly challenging me, to try justifying this git. The look in their eyes!
I’ve never had such a good night – and nothing of mine was actually performed. But the power of Angela’s piece, it was wonderfully affirming to see an audience reacting the way I believed they would.
What I didn’t expect was the reaction after the show. Because of the panel, the audience knew what Angela looked like so they kept seeking her out in the bar. When we were leaving, people abandoned their conversations in mid-word to come over to her: not just to congratulate her, but to actually thank her for writing it.
And to give me a funny look about the sequel.
Wish you could’ve been there. I’ll let you know when dates for the trilogy are announced – and in the meantime, fancy seeing what the fabulous writer Angela Gallagher looks like? Stop by her Breast Cancer Walk donations page and say Mr Angela sent you.