On a gorgeous afternoon, me and some very dear friends of mine gather together in Hornsey Town Hall. Some of us have been meeting like this for years now. We haven’t got a clue what’s about to happen. But we’ve got each other, a work ethic, and a shared knowledge that runs deep. And there’s a whole lot of love in the room. It’s The Factory again. There are many of us. We come together and make theatre. Right now it’s Macbeth.
Crouch End Festival have got us a different venue every night, with no show on Wednesday which suits me as I’ll be in Birmingham training people to be better at peopling and won’t be back in time. This evening we are in the old council chambers at Hornsey. Wood paneling. Beautiful old window weights. Untouched period flooring. Gorgeous old clocks. It’s a stunning old interior that’s about to be ripped out and replaced by faceless cookie cut flats owned by conglomerates based outside the UK and rented to young professionals at just enough over what they can afford that they can never feel entirely free. It’s only the exterior of the building that’s listed. “We can rip out all these nasty old oak panels for you, darling. Put in some good quality chipboard. Lovely.” We are giving the place a last hurrah before it becomes poison.
I’ve come in a three piece. I’m trying to dress well. I’ve got three of them now. I loved my armour so much I bought more. As a result I end up on the festival’s music stage between acts, wordlessly flanking Leila as she announces the show on the mic. Why me? “You and Maddy are dressed beautifully. It shows we mean business. Wear your sunglasses.” Hilarious. And odd. What of my usual uniform of stained trousers and disintegrating T-shirt? Does that not show I mean business as a “proper artist”? It does to me. But the language of capitalism is entrenched over generations and our instincts are visually wired to this instinctive false-meritocratic tyranny of appearance. If you can afford to dress smartly, people trust you because it’s clear that you can afford to dress smartly. I may as well play the game for a while and see what changes. So I’ll be clean shaven a bit. But I digress.
I’m Banquo again, which is a delight as I know the words deeply without any thought so I can run endless interference on myself and not get discombobulated. It’s why I’m learning other parts, so I don’t get stuck in comfort. But comfort is a lovely place to start this, our first run of Factory Macbeth. It’s gonna be a lovely week.
We ended up on the street. We moved for every act. The show comes alive with the obstacles, and there were plenty of obstacles to overcome, including a huge amount of people who had been watching something else and had to walk through the scene to exit the building, in a continuous stream throughout most of act 4.
I’m looking forward to this week. Lots of joy to come. Crouch End is annoyingly far from my home, but our first show was ten minutes from me so I’ll take the rough with the smooth. Here we go! 7pm every night. Tomorrow (Monday) at Earl Haig Hall. I’ll be doing small parts probably. Tuesday (I think) sold out. No show Wednesday. Thursday Friday somewhere in crouch end. I think a church one night and possibly the town hall again? I’ll find out. Message me if you want to come. Only a tenner.