The idea of “networking” makes my skin crawl. I picture dead eyed smiles and people listing credits and assessing each other’s relative importance while not really having a conversation. It’s surprising to encounter a context in which I don’t hate the theory of “networking” before I’ve even encountered the reality of the event. But an old friend and collaborator of mine this evening did a good job of derailing my habit of avoidance. Ben is just consistently Ben. I haven’t seen him for years but I knew he’d be consistent. He organised a “mingle” this evening. I went to it without a lump in my throat. I somehow knew it would be pleasant. I invited my friend Shama. Ben’s interests cross between theatre and science. So do hers. So do mine.

I first came upon Ben as a theatre maker. He made a strange, challenging and memorable piece called “Lost in Peru.” It was unlike anything I had seen at the time, fucking around with form, irreverent and highly intelligent. I was thrilled when we ended up working together shortly after. We did a show called “Confessions” about the things people are ashamed to admit. The frame and structure we lit upon worked very well, and he deliberately paired me with an actress who was very different from me. I still think that show with that dynamic would be a winner at Edinburgh. Perhaps I’ll make a show of my own for next year’s festival and then see if I can double whammy it and build that one into the schedule. No point doing Edinburgh by halves. And I’m in the mood for dancing. Although I’d have to get canny about funding.

Props to Ben though for being the person that made me abandon my distaste for “networking” and show up this evening. I don’t have business cards. About five years ago, I ordered some on Moo. I organised it all beautifully and then fought with myself on detail: should I put my personal mobile, my agent’s number, or both? I ended up doing both, but calling myself “Al Barclay – Nicola Roberts Management.” Nicola was great, you see. I thought we were going to run together. The very day the cards arrived, she rang to tell me she was retiring. In my memory I had the package half open and in my hand when the call came in. They went straight in the bin.  Networking schmetworking.

Lovely to have actually enjoyed something like that. I’m off now to the “leaving drinks” of a woman I admire hugely. A kind woman, who was a high level agent in this business in this town. Kindness doesn’t seem to work very well in this business, which sucks as she’s as good at kindness as she is at her job. But she feels she has to to get out and I understand. I’m upset to see her go. She represented some good friends of mine. She put one old mate into Game of Thrones. Back in the day she assisted my best friend’s agent. She went above and beyond the call of duty, reading conflicting scripts in order to help with difficult choices.

I want kindness to work in this industry. I hope it’s only a matter of time before the kindvalanche. But I’m l sad for our industry that she is leaving it. She is one of the lovely ones. She’d have done well at the networking thing tonight.

I have no photos. I took none as ever. So here is me and my friend Tim.




Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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