How to… get the most from a new-writing workshop

Omar Okai
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1. Be prepared

Make sure your scripts or scores are printed, properly compiled and typed out very clearly, ready for the performers to use. Know exactly what you wish to achieve, and also make sure you let the actors know what you are trying to achieve. Find a rehearsal space somewhere that is cheap and easy to get to. Have a clear timetable and send out the material as early as possible.

2. Respect your cast

Try to make the workshop as useful for the actors as it is for you. Consider approaching a good performing arts school so that while you are exploring your work, the actors can also get the chance to develop their skills. Wherever you source your actors, value their time and input, and make it as easy as you can for them to participate. It’s the nature of workshops that the financial return for actors is often relatively little, but, however constrained your budget, small things like supplying water, tea and decent snacks go a long way towards creating a positive atmosphere.

3. Be realistic

Make sure you can achieve your goal within the time you have available for the workshop. Decide in advance whether you are going to showcase the results at the end of this particular workshop, or whether on this occasion the aim is to help you work out the ‘kinks’ and ideas as part of your journey towards your end goal. Natural discoveries will emerge along the way, but trying to cram in too much superfluous work that distracts from your primary purpose can be detrimental to the outcome.

Award-winning director and choreographer Omar Okai is workshopping a new musical, Celia, with Arts Educational Schools for an April 21 showcase. He was talking to John Byrne