7 April 2020

Playwright Dan Sareen on Shadows, which Want the Moon Theatre were due to perform at NSDF this week

Nineteen months down the line it is equally intriguing and cringe-worthy to look back on a play that began life as a scene between two people smoking and talking about Radiohead. Working on our second show together as a company, we at Want the Moon set out to make something that would explore relatable and personal themes for our generation, and challenge us technically. The end product, our show Shadows, came from the idea of exploring modern day romance through exposing the difference between expectation and reality.

In its current state, Shadows is a play about dreams. The development process to get to this conclusive statement probably took a good 8 months and 3 redrafts, and the script only really resembles the shape it is in now because of a complete overhaul that took place during the first two days of a two week rehearsal period before our first performance – the very performance we had invited NSDF selectors to attend. Somewhere along the way, the two characters quit smoking in that scene, but yes, they do still briefly discuss Radiohead.

This piece is hugely important to us, and has been well received. But it took a long time to define what it was that we were trying to say – whether or not we believed it was harmful to indulge in the dreams we have, may they be lifelong goals or a workplace crush. What started as a simple romance became a way for us to highlight the frustration and distraction inherent within our peer group. The remarkable thing, 19 months later, is that we still don’t feel finished with this theme. I don’t think any one of us thinks that the current draft of the script is perfect, and what a joy it would be to be able to continue to develop a piece that we love – about people and their dreams.

Looking back, it is difficult to feel anything other than extremely grateful for the support we’ve received: from actors happy to help out with a reading or a day of development, and from other artists and industry professionals who gave us their honest opinion. Looking forward, we are so excited to try and start working on something new – to develop something from scratch that we are passionate about, and to work with more brilliant creatives as we do so, even if it means writing yet another scene where characters talk about Radiohead.

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Photograph: Milly Muxworthy