Corey Weekes and I have been working on Rapsody for the best part of two years now. That’s from having the initial idea to getting it RnD’d, finalising the script and now having been awarded the Charlie Harthill fund for our work.
We started with no script, no characters, no bars, no beats. Just a feeling
I get asked a lot about the writing process behind Rapsody, I do think it’s rare to find two writers collaborating in the way we have done.
Corey had the initial idea about incorporating similar bars that we would split on a stage. The play had to speak the same language as us, the same feeling of hunger, poverty and struggle that we’ve been in sync with since birth. Ever since I walked into a theatre and saw a play at the age of sixteen, I noticed the lack of representation in terms of class immediately; it almost felt like I was speaking a different language to my peers at drama school. The class divide in these institutions is so evident, that if you’re not careful you assume and are convinced that in order to be a success or even have a voice in this industry, you must speak like them and any sense of broken English or slang in your accent is ridiculed.
Corey and I shared these obvious frustrations within this industry and amongst our peers. We wanted to be taken seriously, we wanted to write a project that spoke the same language as us but one that had nuance, sensitivity, and entertainment value that wasn’t just another poverty porn project for the masses to feel more comfortable with their already stereotyped views.
We started with no script, no characters, no bars, no beats. Just a feeling. We worked on a two-week RnD at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. We shared improvisations and character development and by the end of it, had formed four initial ideas on what the characters in the play could/should be. Corey and I then went into hiding and assigned what circumstances we wanted the characters to be in. How they would interact, why these scenes were important to showcase and why it was essential to end the play as we have chosen to.
After finalising the script, we showcased our work in a reading at The Belgrade. We took on the respected feedback and then put ourselves forward for the Charlie Harthill Award. Then came a three-week deep rehearsal process, a preview, the Birmingham Hippodrome and now we’re here in Edinburgh for this year’s Fringe presenting what life means to four characters trapped within their own demons, whether that’s addiction, self-hate, the prison system or their own faith. They will express their deepest emotions through bars, but at what cost?