For our latest blog, director James Smoker, reflects on the themes in A Piece.
“Not another one-man show,” I sighed upon opening the script, having been asked if I fancied applying to direct ‘A Piece’ (spoiler: I got the job).
Fortunately, ‘A Piece’ isn’t just another one-man show. Yes, it owes a lot to the form, but it owes more to its flaws – that it can be navel-gazing, whingy, and oblivious to privilege.
Alright, yes, the best of the form evades these issues deftly, but it’s interesting to ponder why public confession is in fashion generally, both in scratch nights and on social media at large. The noblest impulse would seem to be ‘raising awareness’, but I never trust pure altruism – let’s throw catharsis into the mix? How about writing what you know? Convenience…?
Whatever the spur, navigating tone to lean ‘wokewardly’ is tricky and how your words are received is ultimately not in your hands.
Enter David, the protagonist of ‘A Piece’. Honesty is his self-professed mission, “catharsis without consequence” his natty catchphrase, and self-doubt, constant reflexive judgment and the ensuing crushing anxiety are his normal. Through the vortex of the worst kind of feedback loop, David picks at the seams of the confessional mode and his own fraying mental state; hopefully you’ll emerge with some more ideas about what this genre should or shouldn’t be trying to achieve, and whether full disclosure is nakedly terrifying or indulgent flaunting, or even a combination of the two.
A lot of mental health issues arise out of striving for authenticity of self while never seeming to be able to escape playing a character, and David is no different.
Whether he achieves awareness-raising, catharsis or pretentiousness…we’ll leave to you to judge.
A Piece will be performed at Camden People’s Theatre on Sunday 10th March, 17:30.