Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Dan Sherer: Our Share Of Tomorrow

By | Published on Monday 17 June 2013


Real Circumstance begin a run of ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’ at Theatre503 this week. It’s a show we fell in love with at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a few years ago, so when we heard that a new production of the play was headed to London, we were keen to talk to playwright and director Dan Sherer about it. Over to him.

CM: Can you tell us what ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’ is about?
DS: It’s the story of a young Northern Irish girl, Cleo, who comes to find her father – who she doesn’t know, and who lives in a small Essex fishing village – to tell him that her mother has died. But when she arrives, he is not as she had imagined him to be, and the play is about how those events play out. There is a third character, but he’s a bit more secretive!

CM: What inspired you to write the play?
DS: The play was inspired by wanting to make a simple love story, and then taking the circumstances of that story very seriously. When I started making ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’, I thought it would be about a romantic love, and it is, but as the piece grew it became a story about the love between parent and a child; and then a story about loss. What does it mean to love somebody who is no longer there? Or to love somebody whom it is impossible to love? I grew up on the quay of an Essex fishing village, and there is a lyricism and a poetry that belongs to that environment, which I wanted to capture – a feeling of wanting to hold back the passage of time; to not have to grow up.

CM: We loved the show when we saw it at the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago – is it the same production now, or has it changed and developed since then?
DS: I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you! It is broadly similar – it’s the same design – but the play itself has developed since its Edinburgh run. It has been rewritten and reworked slightly. Two of the three original actors have returned – Jot Davies and Tamsin Joanna Kennard – and we have welcomed David Tarkeneter into the company, so the dynamic is quite different.

CM: You created the play through improvisation and devising as well as scripting – can you explain a little about how the process worked?
DS: I develop plays through extensive improvisation, where the actors build their characters over a long period of time, often working one on one with me. Gradually the actors meet in character and then we improvise until that material is honed into a finished piece. There is also a more formal period of ‘traditional’ writing as that material is crafted to make it as dramatically effective as possible.

This approach, strongly influenced by Mike Leigh – for whom I used to work at the National Theatre – gives our work a level of detail and emotional clarity that I think is really unusual. ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’ is the best example of our work to date. It combines a clarity of performance and a depth brought about by improvisation, with the precision of authorship. It also means that the possibility of improvisation – certainly psychologically -remains in performance. So although you see the same play each night, saying the same things, that is a result of the actors simply living through the circumstances of the various encounters each time, again, as opposed to because it is dictated.

CM: You are the writer of the play, but also the director of the show. Is it easy to be objective and flexible when working with your own material?
DS: Writing was the natural consequence of directing for me – an opportunity to make and originate the stories that I find artistically interesting and important; and to me it goes hand in hand with directing. I write to fit the nature of work that I direct, and to fit *the way* that I direct; so it is not processually a massive change; more a progression of directing to make the work theatrically effective.

I certainly try to be objective when directing, but flexibility is easy: paradoxically, I think that I gain more freedom rather than less, through improvisation. We develop so much material that I am spoilt for choice in what actually gets distilled into the finished play, so feeling like I have to compromise doesn’t really register. And because the characters are so carefully developed, the behaviours and choices that are being made are always interesting; and it becomes about refining those choices into the best possible dramatic form.

CM: Your second play is currently in development. How is that going and how soon will it be produced?
DS: It’s going well! It’s set in Indiana, USA, where I have spent much of the past six months, and it’s called ‘Under A Tree At The End Of Time’. It’s also a love story, but it’s bigger in scale and scope. It’s about children and god! We hope to have it produced in 2014.

CM: What else do you have in the pipeline?
DS: Most immediately, my next production will be Ibsen’s ‘The Lady From The Sea’ at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, this August.

CM: What’s next for ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’? Is this the final run for the moment?
DS: We will see. ‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’ is presently touring the East of England before its run in London. I would love for it to continuing going. I’m very proud of the production.

‘Our Share Of Tomorrow’ is on at Theatre503 until 6 Jul, see the venue website for more info and tickets

LINKS: | |