Theatre of Blood is unique in the history of Improbable in that a script (of sorts) exists before we go into rehearsal. Why did we take this unprecedented, and for us, highly dangerous step?
As a movie, Theatre of Blood has style, some splendid set pieces, a cast to die for and an enthralling central performance by Vincent Price. But we felt that it needed some changes to make it work as a piece of theatre. Normally this is something we would address in rehearsals, but Theatre of Blood has a lot of plot and we thought it would be best to have the basic narrative figured out before we started. That way we could wander off into whatever flights of fancy we fancied, knowing that the structure of the piece was chugging along nicely underneath.
Phelim and me had some sessions where we came up with ideas for a theatre adaptation of the film script. Then someone had to go away and write the ruddy thing. So I did.
About half way through I gave what I had done to Phelim. He read it. We both agreed on what it was. It turns out I’d written a slightly creaky, rather traditional, old fashioned, west end style play. This got us very excited. This felt like the kind of thing we could take into rehearsals and use as a solid base from which to build the show. We invented a story, in which we’re wandering round an old theatre, and in a dressing room drawer we find a dusty French’s acting edition of an old play called “Theatre of Blood”. We wonder if it might be Arnold Ridley’s follow up to “The Ghost Train” which never got produced because it wasn’t quite good enough. We liked this story for the script. We decided that I should carry on writing the creaky, old fashioned play.
And that’s how we ended up with a script.