It's based on Liz's real life experiences living with a chronic illness: experiences based on some moments of joy but just as many of pain. Although our overall aim is not to make a painful show, it must be a truthful show. And, as Gutted's co-creator, I'm often harnessing Liz's pain asking her to share it with me, looking at it from many angles and testing it against our wider objectives for what we want our audience to feel.
I've never worked with someone else's autobiographical material before. So unfortunately I'm also pretty much making this process up.
Over this bank holiday weekend, and after one week of rehearsals (with another two to go), I'm having a little moment of reflection on how I'm doing as I make it up. To some extent we've tried and tested it; we've spent a total of three intense weeks developing this work over the last 18 months, and we have a shared vocabulary for working together. But we're looking for deeper textures now that go to harder places, and Liz is having to relive some of the pain.
After a day difficult day I was worried about her. I went home asking myself the following:
How the **** do I PROTECT Liz from the emotion and the tiredness that the process brings up?
Should I be even asking her this stuff if she's not offering it in the first place?
AND WHAT IF MY WISH FOR THE WORK TO BE AS RICH AS IT CAN BE HAS OVERRIDEN MY CARE FOR LIZ AND HER MENTAL & PHYSICAL WELLBEING?!?
I scared myself a little bit. And so the next day I proposed some "play-time": going over existing material that we liked, experimenting with it, remembering it, giving it some love and attention. It actually wasn't what I wanted to do (I thought we were on the cusp of some excellent material) nor was it was Liz wanted either (she likes to power through, it's her way), but I think I vaguely believed that it might help us to remember that we liked the show and each other again.
It's three days later, and we still have material to find, but we'll find it when we're ready, and what's much more important is that the fun has come back into our rehearsal room. And that, ladies and gentlemen, shall be my process.
And this is Liz.
[To be fair to myself I think the best processes are made up. The art would get a bit stale if it followed a formula.]