Shoot from the Hip's Alexander Jeremy tells us how it feels to get on stage without a script!
Nowadays, I feel 10 times more nerves stepping on stage with a script than without one. Why? Because I can’t really do anything wrong when there’s no script. When everything’s set and planned out (lines, cues, movement, entrances, exits, emotional heights I need to hit, etc.) there’s so much I can do wrong. Not only is messing up on any of these bad for me, it’s bad for everyone else! The whole thing could fall apart!
Conversely, with no script, if I mess up - let’s say I misunderstood the location of the scene or maybe the name of the character - this is in many ways a gift to improvisers around me. They can weave it in, make it work, and it may just be the juice/the kick the scene needs. For example, a couple of weeks ago, myself and Luke Manning were doing a WW1 trenches scene. The scene was fine, the usual “Captain, we’re never gonna make it through this” “You’re a great soldier, keep that gun close to you, aim it at the enemy and that’s the best you can do” type thing was going on. If anything, it was actually beginning to run dry because we couldn’t find what the scene was about, it didn’t have any fun to it, any ‘kick’.
Then, in the moment, Luke fumbles his words, “Soldier, we have to do everything we can to protect the back...front”. I pause. “Captain, what do you mean the Back-Front?” Luke sees the opportunity. “You heard me soldier, the back-front, we’re on the back-front” “I thought we were on the front-front Captain?” Tom jumps in the scene from the side “Captain, news from the Back-Back-Front”
From this point we’re all joyful and the audience is laughing and we're all having a great time, so it’s plain sailing. The mistake became the scene.
If I'd walked on the stage for a scripted play and said “To be or not be, whether tis nobler in the…mind…Perchance to dream!” - Game over. But no script, and the game has just begun.
Alexander Jeremy (AJ)