Writer’s Diary: Stephen Hyde—Composer and Director

Oxford Writers' HouseEssays2016OctoberWriter’s Diary: Stephen Hyde—Composer and Director

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Writer’s Diary: Stephen Hyde—Composer and Director

In the end, you see the beginning.

The final week before any production is the most important, because the show will be undergoing its biggest transformation during this period. A work takes shape, you finally find out what it’s about, and whether you got it right or wrong – or usually, both. In the end, you see the beginning. It is a little like dying; you finally see why you started this whole thing in the first place.

But unless you're a tortured genius bent on achieving nirvana one sell-out show at a time, this is going to offer little to no consolation. There's shit to be done, and as with most things, there is nothing like a deadline to inspire productivity. You turn on the espresso machine and go into full-frontal physical and creative overdrive. With my recent shows Yesterday, The Marriage of Kim Kand Queueue, there was invariably yet more material which had to be written at this stage. On all these projects, I was lucky enough to be most fortunate person north of Tibet in having a cast easy-going enough to be ok with this. I mean, having unwritten songs a week before the opening is pretty (bloody) incompetent. I like to call it an important artistic process of creative mellowing. Most people like to call it incompetence.

We're just cutting open something inside us and letting it bleed, hoping that at least one person in the audience relates to it.

But then I suppose incompetence is one of the most important things in a writer's arsenal. We don't have to save lives, we don't have people's welfare in our hands. We're just cutting open something inside us and letting it bleed, hoping that at least one person in the audience relates to it in some way. Usually in our work we're actively telling people how we're all incompetent and isn't that great. In most theatre, whether it's Shakespeare or Stoppard, someone makes a mistake, shit hits the fan and a lesson is learnt. This is precisely what happens in the week before opening night. It's a messy, intense, testing process that often ends in something quite extraordinary. Your show probably won't be anything like what you imagined it would be. And you're about to find that out.


Photo credit: King Lear (O'Reilly February 2015); taken by Oliver Robinson 

Stephen Hyde

Stephen Hyde

Stephen Hyde is an Oxford-based composer, director and creator of theatre. Born and bred in Cumbria, Stephen moved to Manchester in 2009 to study composition at Chetham’s School of Music, after which he took up a choral scholarship at Merton College, Oxford. Since graduating, Stephen has co-founded travelling Shakespeare company The Three Inch Fools as well as setting up Off the Page Productions, a theatre company dedicated to creating innovative and original theatre in Oxford and beyond. His interests lie in multi-media productions, electronic music, neo-noir film, Shakespeare and musical theatre. He is currently developing two new musicals and an opera for UK tours, and is writing his debut studio album. For more information, please drop into www.stephenjghyde.com 

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