Writer Molly Taylor discusses the rehearsal process of See Me Now.
"I am often reminded just what a sensitive task this is; to ask performers to bring themselves onstage, to share their personal histories."
It’s the fourth week of See Me Now rehearsals, and despite being knee-deep in the show I am still making so many discoveries about what we’re making, and what we’re saying. See Me Now has been in development since spring 2015 with the Young Vic Taking Part department. Back then, when we began running workshops for current and ex-sex workers to attend, we had no idea what we were building. In 2015 it was a simple offer; come and spend some time with us, and let’s see what we learn and what stories emerge. That original process has evolved, and the leap from those early days of cheesy team-building games (cue groans from the participants!) to now running a fully-fledged rehearsal room with a professional company is staggering. Sometimes I can’t quite believe what I’m seeing.
Those early workshops were fundamental to building this company. My role, as the writer, was obviously to create a text, but I think in those early sessions I was probably writing the environment more than anything. For projects like this to succeed, everything stems from a spirit of inclusion and trust. Our company members are a wonderful, disparate bunch. How could we create that ensemble environment that could host each unique perspective? How could we take idiosyncratic experiences, yet tell universal stories? We spent those workshops talking, writing, looking at photography, at video installations, at poetry. We’d look at the work of Grayson Perry, Gillian Wearing, Tracey Emin, Simon Armitage, and we’d explore the stories within that artwork, and in response we’d tell our own stories, about what we see in the world. It was many weeks into the process that people began to share their knowledge and experience of sex work. This project has developed over time, so confidence has grown. After we made The Brolly Project in August 2015 (a work in progress performance) one participant told me “If we ever do this again, there’s more I want to say. I think there’s more in me.”
The rehearsal room is a spirited place, there is much mirth, but like in any rehearsal environment, it has its tough moments. I am often reminded just what a sensitive task this is; to ask performers to bring themselves onstage, to share their personal histories. I’ve been so impressed by their wit and commitment and belief, but it’s a tricky, delicate process. In a little over a week they will be on stage at the Young Vic, being seen and heard and (hopefully!) rewarded for their incredible efforts. There is much work to do before that point, but I’m so excited that we are on the cusp of inviting an audience to See Me Now.
Molly Taylor, Writer
See Me Now runs from 11th February to 4th March at the Young Vic. Contact Young Vic Box Office for returns information.