14/48 Summer 2021

It’s been a week since the echoes of the 14/48 festival have dwindled so it’s time to do a bit of reflection. 14/48, for those that don’t know, is the creation of 14 plays in 48 hours. It’s immense fun and a massive challenge. Like jumping on your old Grifter bike and riding no handed down a pothole strewn hill of cobbles.

But the pandemic changed almost everything and 14/48 was in no way immune. This festival was across 2 cities with live audiences and everything web streamed. It shouldn’t be possible.

But we did it.

I was a director of two plays and I was lucky. The two scripts by Emma Penney and Emma White were both corkers. And the actors the 14/48 Gods granted me were perfect.

But this post rummages around day 2.

The script was angry, staunchly feminist and held up a mirror to the patriarchy. It showed toxic masculinity for the horror it is.

If this had fallen on my lap outside of 14/48 I’d have run to Fran Richards, Heather Wastie or even Emma White herself and said, “You should direct this.” That’s not how 14/48 works. The randomness forces you to get on your Grifter and ride. Like it or not I had to direct something which forced me to confront parts of my past I would sooner forget.

I was such a fucking coward growing up. No way was I strong enough to deal with all those bitter tastes in my mouth. In the script a nude photo of a girl gets shared and has horrific consequences. We didn’t have mobiles when I was a kid but I had to ask myself a question…

Would the 14 year old Dave Pitt have shared that picture on Whatsapp given half the chance?

Of course he would. He was a prick. And what would have made it worse is I’d have known it was wrong. I’d have known it was doing damage. But I’d have been too weak to not be the one who shared it. That makes me worse than the tossers who would have shared it and wouldn’t have thought about anyone else.

There is a male character in the script. I saw shades of grey in the boy. A weakness which was also about the toxic masulinity surrounding him. I didn’t want this to be an excuse for his behaviour. What he did was wrong and this didn’t justify it. Talking about it to my actors I could feel my hands shaking. I could taste the copper in my mouth.

As I said earlier, I was lucky. They understood and we worked through it.

Due to me getting the wrong phone number I hadn’t had chance to talk to Emma about the script. When she arrived at 11am we had already pushed through the script and was getting it on its feet. She watched a run through.

I watched Emma.

The copper taste left my mouth. My hands stopped shaking.

Me and Emma had a few conversations during the day. There was a lot of nodding and gentle squeezes of the hand. We stuck stablisers on each others Grifters. The downward slope didn’t look all that scary anymore.

It was also tough on the actors. Olivia Dean in particular who had a heartfelt monologue at the end which brought her to tears. It seemed like all I said was, “Are you okay?”

But this is the thing about 14/48. Are we okay? Probably not. We’re all big bags of emotion trying to ensure tomorrow is a little better than today. Sometimes things remind us of yesterday and it hurts us and scares us. But with 14/48 you suddenly find you’re at the bottom of the hill, you haven’t fallen off and things are okay.

And then, because this is who we are, we look for a steeper hill.

Dave Pitt
4th July 2021