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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

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White Rabbit, Red Rabbit: how it felt to perform Nassim Soleimanpour's theatrical experiment

Monday 18th August 2014

Stephanie_Merritt_in_Whit_014_caf5113c93ff.jpg

Ihave a recurring nightmare where I'm standing on stage in front of an audience and I realise I don't know the lines of whatever I'm supposed to be performing. Last week I made it come true by taking part in the play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, a theatrical experiment by the Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. The play is performed by a different actor every day at the Edinburgh festival and handed to you in a sealed envelope as you step on stage. Neither the actor, nor the audience, have any idea what is to unfold over the following hour.

The script begins in the first person, as I address the audience. Straightforward so far; as an author I'm used to public readings and the script in my hand is a lifebelt. As long as I can cling to the written words, there is a sense of safety. If I just keep reading, line after line, I will not be left standing alone under the lights groping for words...

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