Creative Collaborations: Writing Selected Recordings of Us
It began as an entirely different show. Doesn’t everything? When Gabriele and I first talked about writing a play together, the impetus was the obviousness of our creative union: we’d never written together before, though we’d written concurrently, our individual identities as writers a thread that connected us but which we’d never attempted to sew into one. Combining our respect for one another’s talent with an actual shared project felt natural, almost inevitable, so much so that our early discussions sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor in our flat consisted of variations on a theme: ‘of course we should write something - but what shall we write?’
A play about the performance of breaking up, a play about the politics of remembrance…
But as with all writing, intellectual interests converge on personal narrative, and it didn’t take long for our respective heartbreaks to take centrestage. A play about the performance of breaking up, a play about the politics of remembrance… As much as we owe a great debt to Susan Sontag’s On Photography, we must also (begrudgingly) acknowledge the people who came into our lives and made their unalterable impact - enough so that we had to write a whole play to identify the marks.
Georgia Louise Luckhurst, Co-Writer of Selected Recordings of Us
The first draft of this play was an odd, misshapen thing called Consumed, which was meant to debut at the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Like all drafts, we view it fondly - it was necessary to rewrite, and extensively, in order for the thing to become Selected Recordings of Us, but in that awkward antecedent Gabriele and I took the first steps to understanding the themes that would emerge more clearly in its successor. Sometimes you don’t know something is a draft until you look at it months later, after the initial rosy rush of creating is done and the light has settled. The cancellation of the Fringe was crushing - needless to say, for hundreds of others as well as us - but it gave us time to regroup, to reconsider, to figure out what we were really trying to say. And what were we really trying to say?
...‘thank God we don’t know our futures.’ With the help of their Polaroid camera, can our characters even know their past?
Even now, I can’t give you an answer. Plays aren’t about answers. If I have one hope for our audience, it is that they leave with questions crowding their pockets, in between their ticket stub and the programme. But whenever I think about this show, whenever I attempt to atomise its preoccupations, I return to a text that Gabriele received from his mother and shared with me, a major inspiration on our creative discussions: ‘thank God we don’t know our futures.’ With the help of their Polaroid camera, can our characters even know their past?
Gabriele Uboldi, Co-Writer of Selected Recordings of Us
The process of writing took its own wavering path. For the first draft, Gabriele and I were lucky enough to be flatmates as well as collaborators: it wasn’t hard to query, to offer criticism, to barge into the other’s room and speculate about the landing of a scene. The second took place across countries, with Gabriele in London, studying for his master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and myself in Paris, where I took to writing at the Starbucks in my free mornings on Avenue Victor Hugo.
In a year when artistic productivity was so invisible, it felt truly special to be writing with such an enthusiastic partner.
I enjoyed the second, more distant process more than I’d thought possible: I remember the messages we sent back and forth to one another, after either of us had nervously shared a new scene with the proviso: ‘it may be weird???? Don’t hate me if it’s weird.’ And the other would respond with the warmth of immediate encouragement, and excitement, and the reflex: ‘I’m so glad we’re doing this.’ In a year when artistic productivity was so invisible, it felt truly special to be writing with such an enthusiastic partner. The thing about writing with Gab is that nothing is too weird. Nothing is off the table, the page is boundless and the room for experimentation is granted without hesitation. We’re so excited about Selected Recordings of Us - I mean, can’t you tell? But the truth is, I’m excited for everything Undone Theatre accomplishes once it’s been officially launched into the world. This is a company with endless spirit. And nothing is too weird.