By Annecy Hayes

We have just completed phase two of the research and development work on our new piece, The Art of Dying. The process was frenetic, challenging and stimulating and full of important discoveries about the future shape and content of the piece. I’m happy to report that whilst working on a play about the rise of paupers’ funerals, and about poverty and death in this country, that the rehearsal room at Clean Break Studios was also marked by lively and creative conversation. The project writers, Chris Redmond, Anna Hope and Hannah Davies had produced some arresting and proactive material – beautiful and disconcerting in turns. The sum of their work produced the breadth of perspective, the shifting form and multi-vocal effect that we had hoped for, and over the two week period we worked with the writers to unlock their pieces and to experiment with where and how they might sit within the final piece.  Now, the next phase begins – taking the findings and knowledge from the R&D into redrafting and remodelling the script.

Of course, none of these important discoveries would have been possible without the rest of creative team, who took risks and accompanied us on some of our more experimental adventures! From the designer, Hayley Grindle, to the sound designer, Emma Laxton and the projection designer, Will Duke, all of the team made the seemingly impossible, possible. Including travelling below ground and back through time! We certainly challenged ourselves during this R&D process and we made some valuable mistakes as well as making significant creative choices; and we must send huge thanks to all those people who kindly came to the sharing of the work and who provided the necessary feedback that is already being used to shape the full piece. Critically, we all go forward excited about the potential of this project, and keen to start the next chapter.

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