In The Rehearsal Room: James Raggatt

If someone asks you, “Tell the story about the first time you fell in love,” where do you begin? Like any story, like memory itself, you need to provide foundational context, a background upon which to construct your personal narrative. In Blink we are gifted with two remarkable little lives, those of Jonah and Sophie, which provide the grounding for an unusual and edifying love story. “I’m telling you this so you know…” and, “I’m telling you this so you come to see how…” they each say, providing a lens through which to understand them during their bizarre coming together and their moving, provoking relationship.

It’s the idea of narrative context that has been on my mind during our first week of rehearsals for Blink. Concepts like this have always fascinated, perhaps because my father is an academic in psychology with a particular interest in personality and identity formation. A favourite writer philosopher of mine, Slovoj Žižek, discusses love as a kind of psychological event, a point in time when we perceive immense change around which, although it is existent only from its specific place in time, we construct our history, as if everything in our lives had been leading up to that point.

The world of Blink is a very detailed one. It’s been fascinating delving into the stories of these sweet and perplexing lives leading to their unification of sorts. These beautiful characters are ripe with humanistic detail which Charlotte, Luke and I have been fathoming together, allowing the many facets of their rich world to compete, intermingle and magnify around us.

I am always amused at how my interpretation and expectation of story and character shift so dramatically between the first read and the rest of the theatre making process. The more time you spend questioning motives and engaging empathically, the more you allow a fictional character to surprise you in just the same way that any human in your real life would or could do. In a rehearsal room I always like to refer about my role in third person, never in first, because that way it feels to me like we’re going on a journey together, Jonah (or whoever s/he is at the time) and I. We discover things about ourselves together that will be shared on stage. We learn to walk hand in hand, being in being; affecting each other in shared ways. When we share a story we share parts of ourselves. So far, Jonah and Sophie have been very fascinating people to meet. I have a feeling you will find their story equally enlightening. See you there?