For three days during last term, I was given the opportunity to work with the Kevin Spacey Foundation as a Shadow Writer to Hassan Abdulrazzak. I had no idea what the role was, or the duties it would entail, but it was exciting nonetheless. The Kevin Spacey Foundation are collaborating with the Middle East Theatre Academy in Sharjah to conduct workshops and at the end of two weeks a play would be presented to an audience and the royal family. The writer was given a challenging brief that he had to adhere to in the play. One of them being to write for a cast/ensemble of 35 people which is extremely difficult.
On the first day, I read the first two drafts of the scripts in a span of 40 minutes. I was then allowed to sit in on a meeting with the director and the writer. It was really valuable to see how note sessions and feedback is handled by both parties.
I have lived in Dubai my whole life, so it was interesting to see how the writer and director dealt with the restrictions they had to work with, in terms of subject matter, as I am aware of the rules and regulations in terms of freedom of expression. I was also able to give them advice on how they could address certain issues or the way the audience would perceive certain lines of dialogue.
They were working with the Foundation students at Drama Centre as they fit the age requirement of the characters. The three days were used by the production team to workshop sections of the script. This would also allow them to have a clearer idea of the ability of the actors that they were to work with in the Middle East. Through the use of movement and sound, they were able to draw out the liveliness from the opening image of the play. The director guided the actors but also gave them the freedom to play and create images within the scene which the production team could then use to further develop with the actors in the Middle East. The exercises conducted with the actors were so useful to interpret the script. It gave me ideas on how to bring the most out of my own work.
It was a really enriching process as I learnt how to be a part of a professional team. I made some great connections and it really excites me to know that the theatre world is slowly starting to develop where I grew up.