Rebecca Callard- On her 2017 Commendation
Update for 2021- Rebecca Callard’s 2017 Bruntwood Prize Commended script ‘A Bit of Light’ is currently shooting as a film starring Oscar winner Anna Paquin…
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We have permission to share a specially recorded scene from writer and actor Rebecca Callard’s brilliant A BIT OF LIGHT. Rebecca won a Commendation in 2017 for this play, and held a supported workshop and reading with NTStudios to explore the work further. In this reading, the wonderful Susan Wokoma played BETHAN and reprises the role here.
Of the scene- Rebecca says-
‘It was uncomfortable to write in a way because I didn’t want it to feel like the women were pitted against each other without cause and/or make the character of Bethan look like the villain. From her perspective she isn’t. From mine she isn’t either. All the characters are everything. And they are each a part of me in this story. I want to take care of my characters. Even if they behave badly. I didn’t want to be reckless but we are nuanced and complicated. Heroes can emerge from chaos and learning difficult lessons out of awful circumstances. Women’s parts aren’t always allowed to make mistakes as they’re expected to represent strength. But strength is different in all of us.
When I first heard Susan say these words in rehearsals for the reading, she just got that. Susan has great depth and range as an actor and so much empathy. She is naturally funny and understands those beats but like all my favourite actors has the ability to break your heart and make you listen. She gave the speech exactly what the whole play needed (no pressure Susie). If she’d been too faint in any way it might not have worked. But she had to inform the other characters and the audience why she was she was saying what she was. Without being sentimental. I wanted there to be a possibility that Bethan was saying this to shock Ella into change. I wanted Bethan to get home and go over what she said and think why did I use that word or why did I say it like that. I do that with most conversations I have. Susan can show that in her performance effortlessly. I hoped the words would seem considered but also have an abstract quality… Here’s Bethan’s opportunity and she takes it. But she doesn’t find it easy. Dramatically this is the moment the character Ella uses Bethan’s words to make a significant decision that leads to a huge shift. I love the way Susan delivers the first line in this video – which is pretty crushing but she softens how she says it, she knows the impact. I always find myself using the wrong words in life… You write something and the actor knows there’s so much more than what you’ve written in the intention… that’s so exciting’