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It Takes Two
When he tragically died at the start of this year, my good friend Derek Watts and I were working on an idea he had for a new play with songs. Derek had an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music and could pull a song out of the air that would chime with any given moment in the theatre, or, for that matter, in life.
The idea was to set the drama in a down at heel, Midlands' night club that is fighting for its future yet still offering live entertainment each night. His thought was to centre the drama around the ambition of a young vocal duo, their romantic possibilities and the contrast and similarities between this and the increasingly desperate future for the club.
This idea had been buzzing around in Derek's imagination for years - he'd already written two possible treatments for the idea which he had shared with people - and I came on board initially to try to help him structure the project because of my experience as a playwright. But as with all creative collaborative projects the lines began to blur as we started to arrive at a preliminary framework for the writing of the piece.
Derek came to this project with a wealth of experience as a director and actor and had put these skills to full use with Lewes Little Theatre over the years and, as someone who had a good ear for dialogue, he had already begun to write some scenes for the play.
With Derek's untimely death, I have decided to complete the project as a memorial to his creative spirit. Derek and I spent many hours and shared many emails about the work in his last few months and I feel, not simply a responsibility to him but to the work also; it's certainly an idea that deserves to find a life on stage - whenever such a thing might happen again.
In our final meetings about the project, before he went into hospital for the last time, we talked at length about looking to bring the project to some sort of focus around the back catalogue of Dusty Springfield. This has provided me with a very welcome framework around which to coalesce all the ideas we talked about during those months and gives me a jumping off point to begin the writing of this piece on my own.
In the final analysis the play will be his - it will have his name on it; Derek was the architect of the project, I'm simply the contractor asked to build the project. I have no idea what will become of the work, whether Lewes Little Theatre will want to give it the chance to breathe, or even whether live theatre is ever going to be possible again because of this virus. However, it deserves the opportunity to bestride the boards and I'm very grateful to play my part in perhaps making that a possibility.
So, having completed two of my own projects this year, I'm turning my attention to this. I can't say when such a thing might find its legs, but I'm hoping to have a draft of it by the end of the year. I'll keep all those interested updated through this site, and maybe, sometime in the future we will all get to see the piece live on stage. That would certainly complete Derek's dream for the project.