Guest Blog: Tara Notcutt and The Three Little Pigs
My friend @robvanvuuren‘s new play, The Three Little Pigs is on for a final week at the Baxter, ending 9th Feb.
It’s brilliant: bust-a-gut funny, open-a-vein dark political satire with shades of Lolly Jackson and Brett Kebble, the arms deal, corrupt cops, barnyard bureaucracy, strippers and submarine tenders.
I got to chat to 25 year old director Tara Notcutt after the premiere and she told me a little about how they collaborated on the writing of the play. It was a neat story, so I asked her to do a guest blog on it.
Her post is below. And if you haven’t got tickets yet, go book now.
It’s must-see theatre.
DIRECTOR TARA NOTCUTT:
Like their houses were made of different materials, The Three Little Pigs is made of three things: Coffee. Twitter. Burger Time.
The number one question is: “how did you write it?” The answer: “we didn’t write it so much as read newspapers”. This might sound like a joke, but it’s quite serious. The process went something like this:
A Typical Rehearsal Day
10h00 – start rehearsal.
10h47 – actually start rehearsal.
11h05 – make coffee and eat rusks. Check Twitter. Read newspapers.
11h38 – talk about cases happening at the time (for example, the Genl. Richard Mdluli trial).
11h45 – Discuss plot. Rob, James and Albert suggest scenes; Tara creates a storyboard using post-its.
12h20 – get hungry. Break for lunch, AKA Burger Time.
13h45 – resume work.
13h48 – need more coffee. Make more coffee. Eat more rusks.
13h57 – decide we need to work. Rob, James and Albert bounce ideas around; Tara types furiously.
15h05 – exhausted by a day of hard work, retire.
We definitely improved on this pattern when we realised that the 15 days we had to write it were fast coming to an end. The room was a wasteland of post its and various drafts of the script, and out of this mess came 40-something pages of dark, funny, serious text.
And today, almost a year later, we have refined, edited and worked this text. However, there is definitely some ad-libbing involved; I mean, it’s not possible to have Rob, James and Albert in the same room and not have some. They are very smart actors who know how to work a crowd, and they do it with ease and grace… or do they? Ladies and gentlemen, to prove this point, we present the 2 kinds of ad-libbing in The Three Little Pigs:
1. The ooh-this-would-be-a-great-line-here-BANG kind (i.e. the good kind)
2. The Wilderness* (i.e. very, very bad)
Option 1? Amazing. Happens on the best nights, when adrenaline is pumping and they give the audience a little summin’ summin’ extra.
Option 2? Horrible. Happens on the best nights, when adrenaline is pumping and everything goes blank.
* The Wilderness is a phrase coined by James one rehearsal when he blanked in the middle of a scene, stared blankly, and only said “Wilderness. Nothing”
Since its premiere at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown in 2012 the play has kept growing. People often ask if the content has changed since we first wrote it, and other than the odd Wilderness here and there, the answer is: “not really”.
The country has changed, there are more corrupt things happening politically and within the police, but it’s very satisfying to see that the play we made a year ago can still resonate now. And the fact that it has been invited Perth, New York and Amsterdam really proves that it hits a nerve that is larger than just South Africa.
And that is pretty darn cool.
- The Pigs