Nothing To Be Done is an absurdist piece of theatre, currently showing at theSpace on North Bridge, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting For Godot. Based around two girls waiting for a train that never looks like it’s going to arrive, it features an all female cast and a fully original script. Deeply witty and philosophically intriguing, the play is oddly inspiring, not just in the play itself, but in the fact that such a young creative team have produced such a strong and compelling piece of theatre. I spoke to Meghan Tyler (writer and performer) about how the play came into its current form and the ambitious life philosophies it aims to explore.
How much has Nothing To Be Done evolved since the first script and how does it build on the Godot inspiration?
In Waiting For Godot they [the two main characters] just enjoy each other’s company. In Nothing To Be Done, it looks more at their relationship, and that’s the theme that I went with and explored in this version of the play. That dependence came out more in rehearsals when we were working on the first version of the script, which was just 15 minutes long. It was a really beautiful relationship in the 15 minutes that we had, so I wanted to take that and explore that a little bit more. I wanted to move away from the strictness [of a Beckett play]. I love Beckett and I love all of his plays, but I sometimes feel they can be very restrictive.
I suppose there’s a divide in theatre between keeping it pure and letting it evolve. Would you say you’re much more for letting it evolve naturally?
Yeah. It’s helpful being involved with taking this to the Fringe, rather than writing the script and letting other people work on it. It’s useful to have other people involved [in adapting the scipt] so it can grow in a better way. When you write it, you’ve got your vision of it, but someone else can bring out more of that vision, so it’s more of a team effort. There’s a skinhead version of Titus Andronicus which I have to see. Theatre should really come down to the idea of playing back and forth. I think if you’re too strict with it, you lose the main thing theatre is about, which is playing with the world. That’s why my theatre company is called Chaseplay Theatre, because it’s about playing.
The play is about playing.
Yeah, the play is about playing. Wordplay, and all that.
Have you seen anything else at the Fringe?
I saw Chalk Farm. I thought it was brilliant. I like ThickSkin’s energy that they go for, it’s quite sporadic but it’s well contained, if you know what I mean. They always bring up current issues which are relevant. Joanne was involved in their production of Blackout about two or three years ago. Chalk Farm had little bits of physical theatre that were quite succinct and quite slick. I think physical theatre can be really exciting for an audience to watch. Whereas breaking the fourth wall I find really exciting. Breaking stuff is always exciting.
Is there a conflict between Lulu and Cece in that each of them takes on each side of the conflict of being playful about life or taking on the big questions?
Yeah, to a degree. I think Lulu definitely takes on these big questions and gets sucked into that kind of vacuum. I think if Cece wasn’t there, that would be her life, she would just be sitting there thinking. Cece provides a certain distraction to an extent because she’s so playful and she’s so about ‘look at this bottle on the floor that I’m going to play with because I can see it and it’s funny’, whereas Lulu’s like, ‘why are we here?’.
Do you think it possible to go back to that playful state once you’ve taken on those questions?
I think it is. Me and my friend Sarah Swire are in talks of making a play about middle class boys or men of our generation who aren’t content with being happy, so they find fault in everything, which is very common these days. I think a lot of people are happy to be miserable and kind of delve in it, and me and Sarah are like, what the fuck’s wrong with just being happy? In the ’80s, they were asked to draw what the future would be, they drew flying cars, and spaceships, and all this technological advancement. Then someone today was asked to draw what the future would be, and it was the end of the world, devastation, things on fire. I think our generation has become a wee bit more cynical, because we’ve got so much information, we’ve got a wealth of information. We get news from all over the world telling us how bad the world is, what a state we’re making of it, that it’s a bit like ‘well I might as well just be miserable and I might as well be happy being miserable’. My philosophy of life is try to be happy.
Do you think the play tackles that issue of taking life a day at a time?
Yeah, so Cece takes it a day at a time, which is helped by the fact that she forgets everything, so she’s forced to take it a day at a time. She’s playful but she’s confused, whereas Lulu remembers everything, and she doesn’t take on a day at a time, she’s like ‘we’ve been here forever, I can’t do this any more’. I think the best thing would be for the two characters to amalgamate, if they were one character it would be to take it a day at a time, have the knowledge and acceptance that those questions are there, but maybe not dwell on them as much as possible. I had a brilliant philosophy teacher back in high school who could philosophise for days, then go home to his wife and he was the happiest man in the world. But people who are quite bogged down by these questions let that get in the way. I think if everybody really questioned the world, we’d just be sitting in our rooms with a blanket over our head. That’s why we don’t do that, because it wouldn’t be economical, and it wouldn’t be beneficial to us.
What parts of life do the other two characters, Happy and Titsi, represent?
For me it was kind of taking the piss out of this Made In Chelsea generation, which is just ridiculous. I thought it would be interesting to put a character like that in this kind of world. At the same time, it does explore Titsi and Happy’s more abusive side of human interaction, although Titsi needs Happy and Happy needs Titsi.
What do you think Happy’s speech reflects on in that abusive relationship?
Her speech sort of takes in all the scientific views of the world, it tries to amalgamate things like physics, the big bang, then there was this, and the Earth, and there was meteorites, and then this happened. There’s a massive list of the things that came after the other. Then there’s the God element thrown on top of that. Me personally I think religion and science can come together and can kind of help each other out, but most people think that they clash and don’t fit together. In that speech I was trying to philosophise that relationship. Darwin was a Christian, and he came up with evolution. Then the Government at the time used that to say that the strong are above the weak. Then the ‘weak’ in inverted commas are outnumbered. It’s amazing to see the protests going on in Brazil and Egypt etc., where the people aren’t happy with their Government, so they’re like ‘fuck it, we’ll protest’. Whereas I think in America and the UK, like with the NSA, we’re all really angry about it, but we’re like ‘eh, what can we do?’.
Nothing To Be Done is showing at 22:10 at theSpace on North Bridge until the 24th of August.
Director – Joanne Thomson
Assistant Director – Laura Wooff
Writer – Meghan Tyler
Lulu – Meghan Tyler
Cece – Emma Curtis
Titsi – Cliodhna McCorley
Happy – Laura Wooff