Sure Shots is an initiative by SweetScar to bring audiences the best of new theatre writing, in bite-sized form and for free. Sure Shots presents bursts of high-quality theatre that aim for lasting impact.
SweetScar has created eight Sure Shots, all of which have been UK stage premieres. They have explored self-help, self-harm, sexual abuse, environmental issues, polar exploration, inter-species relationships, the dilemmas involved in ordering food, and the disastrous consequences of accepting a muffin.
Douglas Maxwell’s play is a searing investigation into men and mental health. An estranged father accompanies his son to a hospital room, where the son can cut himself in a “clean, supervised environment”.
The rehearsal process for Sure Shots was always swift. We would meet on a Sunday, and start performing on the Tuesday. However, Douglas’s script was so intense that we needed to find a different way to approach it. You couldn’t pick it apart and practise it in chunks. Instead we talked, took time off for the cast to learn their lines, and then we came back together and ran the show three times. That was it. Anything more would have led to diminishing returns.
Sometimes I am asked what my process is as a director. For better or worse, I don’t have one that’s fixed. I aim to respond to the needs of each piece, to deliver each one as honestly as I can. In this case, I needed to trust the power of the text and the performers… sometimes if a director meddles too much, instead of polishing a production, they can break it.
The audience sat on three sides around a raised room, creating an all-too-intimate atmosphere. The smell of disinfectant hung in the air. But the spectators were also shut out of the action, as the characters were facing inward. The boy kept silent for most of the time, speaking just a few words before he put the razor to his skin.