GUEST BLOG: Writer Cally Hayes on the journey of her new audio play Split Second
Split Second started out as a stage play and it was during a rehearsed reading at the Bike Shed Theatre, two years ago, that a very good friend of mine said “I can hear that working on radio”. Fast forward a year and, with some Exeter City Council funding in my pocket, I started a collaboration with that same good friend to produce one of Documental Theatre’s first audio dramas.
Documental make new writing drama inspired by lived experience. This is partly because we’re nosy but mainly because we want to make plays that take account of how real people cope under pressure, and how they rarely lose their sense of humour or their preoccupation with when the bins need to go out.
“it’s a real gift to have time carved out and shared with others, even if that time is spent in
silence” Exeunt Magazine
Split Second is actually my story although I took dramatic license with the dynamics of the character’s relationship but it got me thinking about how we never know how robust a relationship is until it is really tested. I was also responding to the science of antenatal screening to eliminate disability.
Adapting this play for radio has changed the way I write. What has been so exciting about working with sound and a sound designer is thinking differently about text and what is left unsaid and considering how that can be reflected in sound. It became clear early on in the production process that the sound of water was important, not only because the play is set in a bathroom but because it reflects the intimacy and growing emotional distance between the characters whilst adding a sense of propulsion towards the building tension as they grapple with their decision.
So once you’ve made an audio drama, how do people get to hear it? I discovered that opportunities for broadcasting were few and far between for a produced piece. And I am, essentially, a theatre maker. I wanted to take this piece to public spaces and get people together to hear it. Listening to the radio used to be a communal experience but, in a our digital world, it’s something listened to alone and often on the move.
In 2017, Documental previewed a number of shared listening performances in Exeter at the Glorious Arthouse Cafe and the Bike Shed Theatre of these new audio dramas, including SPLIT SECOND.
Now I wanted to take this a step further and find a way of listening to Split Second on your mobile phone in this shared space. A chance conversation at Kaleider in Exeter helped me find a digital solution.
I hope you might want to be part of the experiment and test this solution at RumpusCosy Cafe on 29 May. Tickets for Split Second are available from https://plymouthfringe.com/whats-on/category/splitsecond/