Week in review – projects collide and my motorbike gets stolen

The week in work
Well, it’s been a hectic and fragmented week, and to be honest, I’m looking forward to getting focused on Haroun and the Sea of Stories rehearsals next week. Too much colliding on too many projects!

Unexpectedly, it felt like the opera I’m doing next year – The Knife of Dawn – got the lion’s share of my time. Monday was spent going through the first treatment of the libretto and meeting with Irina Brown to get some opera directing advice (I can’t wait until the summer, when I’m going to dedicate a big chunk of time to learning more about the medium). On Wednesday I was in the hallowed halls of the Royal Opera House to meet with their Associate Director John Fulljames – he was full of brilliant and generous producing advice. Hopefully he’ll remember me for my talent and charm rather than the fact that I dropped water all over his table and within centimetres of his MacBook! On Thursday evening we were at Tessa’s house going over her brilliant first treatment in minute detail. It’s shaping up to be a very exciting piece of work.

After that, Instructions for American Servicemen had a lot of producing work to be done, not to mention another work-in-progress outing at the Bath Comedy Festival, which went fantastically well. Boy In Darkness looks set to tour next year, and there were meetings about how that might work. A Lecture on Doubt, the live art/music/performance piece I’m developing with Sarah Johns got an evening session and some pitch writing. Finally, I was desperately trying to get my head around Haroun and the Sea of Stories and put together a vague rehearsal plan. Not quite enough done yet, but I should be able to get through the first week unscathed!

I also managed to fit in an afternoon of yoga for directors at the Young Vic, and a very lovely coffee with the theatrical demi-god that is Mike Alfreds. Such a lovely man, and wonderful to soak up his independent spirit and wealth of experience. I hope I’m as sprightly, switched on, and relaxed as he when I’m seventy.

Theatre Shows
I only managed the one show this week: Politrix at the new Hackney Showroom. It’s a strange space – basically a medium-sized warehouse with folding chairs, a lighting rig, and an mdf-bar decorated with fluorescent tubes a la Dan Flavin – but it was used brilliant by the Big House Theatre company, and shows a lot of potential. One thing going for it is it’s immense size compared to most fringe venues. My worry is that it’ll be scuppered by it’s woeful transport links. If it can tap into the local community, taking in both the ‘real’ Hackney-ites and the gentrifying cool-crowd, then it could have a flavoursome future. It’s hard to see it appealing to a wider London community though; unfortunately, when it comes to transport, I think people are just too lazy.

I’ve been reading The Active Text – Unlocking Plays Through Physical Theatre by Dymphna Callery. Although I’ve only made it through the first few chapters, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect book. Essentially it’s about applying physical theatre and devising techniques to the rehearsals of a pre-written play. Haroun… is the first ‘play’ I will direct in nearly four years. In my head, I was inventing all sorts of rehearsal room exercises to develop the ensemble’s knowledge of the text and characters. Low and behold, I open Dymphna’s book, and there are all the things I was planning on doing, and more. Although I’ll also be bringing in a huge array of Gaullier and Viewpoints inspired practise, it’s great to have a rehearsals road-map that I can experiment from over the next few weeks.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Thomas Jack’s Tropical House mix-tapes. I’ve been knackered, but played while working, they’ve kept me upbeat and energised when all I wanted to do was sleep. A little bit of summer in my life.

Miscellaneous Thoughts
Without doubt the most traumatic part of this week has been having my new motorcycle stolen. Coming home on Thursday night, I was absolutely shattered, and must have dropped the key after locking up the bike. Returning the next day from Bath (where I’d spent most of the day fighting off a horrendous migraine), I walked past my parking-spot to discover it no longer there. Stolen. Through my own stupidity. It’s been a hard knock to take. I keep trying to remind myself that it’s only a motorcycle, that on every other scale of measurement my life is going stupendously well at the moment. Having Jean-Pierre visit from Paris has been an amazing way to keep my mind off it – no-one else makes me laugh so much. Ultimately though, I’m absolutely gutted. It sounds silly to say, but I had fallen in love with that bike. I was so proud of her. Every time I walked away from her I would gaze back, besotted by her beauty.  She represented freedom, anarchy, danger – the fact that my career was coming together and I could finally afford luxuries. And now she is gone, probably forever. She was not insured, and she was one of a kind. I know that in a short space of time I’ll get over the loss, but honestly, for the moment, thinking about it makes me want to cry.

The week’s highlights:

– Seeing The Real MacGuffins have a storming night at the Bath Comedy Festival

– Having Jean-Pierre visit from Paris

– A great session on Knife of Dawn with Tessa and Hannah

– Brilliant final show of Boy In Darkness by Gareth

– Very inspiring coffees with Irina Brown, Mike Alfreds and John Fulljames

The coming week

Can’t believe I’m starting rehearsals on Tuesday for my next show. Like with Boy In Darkness I feel woefully unprepared. I have a plan though, and I’m sure it will work out. At the very least, the script has already been written! Design meetings tomorrow, then on the train (grrr) the morning after. Southend here I come!!!

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