It was a very holistic process, working with the cast individually, none of them getting to see the script or performance of the other witnesses. I'd added a final character to the show on the last day, bringing in the talented Pamela Flanagan with a few days notice. So on the day of performance I rehearsed and to some degree wrote the opening of the show. That said, we were hardly busy with it at first, having lunch on Friars Meadow in Sudbury before the read through of her script. Then it was all hands to the pumps and I didn't really stop until the show was all over.
The Inquiry was held at the beautiful Lavenham Guildhall, where we set up all the equipment and Peter Morris miked us up for the recording. Then, after a few photos, we were open for business. Doors opened and the witnesses (most of them) and the audience mingled - the audience were all given visitor passes on lanyards (which I wish I'd had more time to do some design work on) and then, with an 'All rise' from the usher and a minutes silence for the victims of the play, we were off.
Now, what I hadn't told the cast was that some witnesses would interrupt their testimony - so when Benvolio libelled Rosaline she shouted out at the back of the court. This was nothing to the scream of 'murderer' from Lady Montague to Capulet at the end of the show.
And, apart from some of the slides with evidence going a little bit wrong, it was an electrifying evening. Not bad for Shakespeare's birthday, I thought.
In fact, The Juliet Inquiry is just the first of a trilogy of Shakespeare themed works - the next being The Shakespeare Delusion which performs later in the month and will be live streamed, and which is about all the bollocks people say about the non-existent Shakespeare Authorship Question (there isn't any question at all) and ending with Historic Crimes which partly follows on from Delusion as it in part addresses Bardolotry and what do you do about someone whose work is part of public consciousness, if they turn out to be a wrong un.
And on top of that, with my Radio show (starting Friday) I'll be performing regular bursts of Shakespearean poetry - so he's got a bit under my skin this year.
Anyway - I'll leave you with some of the comments the audience left us after the inquiry...
Malcolm (via Facebook): An excellent event, true drama, I was so mesmerised... Congratulations on some really moving performances and fine writing.
Julie (via Facebook): "Hear hear! So glad I was able to see it. 450 years and we have our very own 21st century Shakespeare amongst us!"
Anon: “It was brilliant, well done to all and thank you.”
Anon: “Lovely – super cast – super venue – more please!”
Sara: “Well done, an illuminating perspective, I’ll look forward to the report.”
Gemma: “What a fantastic adaptation of a story we all know so well. Congratulations to you all. A very fitting tribute to the Bard on his birthday!”
Penny: “Totally fab! Really powerful stuff and totally transfixing. So relevant and very well done. I loved it!”