In Sheffield, next to an Office Outlet, in a huge car park, there’s a great big old retail space that is currently occupied by Theatre Deli. Deli have existed for over a decade now. They’re a charity, set up by three old university friends who care about community and theatre. They’ve all been mates of mine for decades, and they are still making opportunities for emerging artists, as well as old lags like me. It’s a coincidence that I’m in one of their spaces, in that I didn’t drive the connection, but I’m thrilled about it. One of the three, Jess, showed up today in the venue. I run into Roland frequently in London. Effie is more elusive. She’s in LA, and I couldn’t raise her in pilot season when I went and kicked that particular ants nest and started this blog all that time ago.

Theatre Deli take over unoccupied buildings for a short while and they fill them with life. They make jobs for arts professionals. They make theatre for communities. They take empty space and turn it into life and joy. It’s a great business model and a great calling. Jack and I are going to have a lovely few weeks doing Christmas Carol here. All we need now is an audience. We even have all the candles.


BBC Radio Sheffield came in today and recorded a bit of rehearsal footage. Then they did one of those interviews where we get really enthusiastic about everything. It was a pre-record, so they can save it in the edit. It’s going out tomorrow I think. I won’t be listening if I can help it.

Every year we partner with a charity for this show. This year it’s St Mary’s “Timebuilders”, a local Sheffield charity that provides community and meaning to dissociated people who might otherwise have slipped through the net. The catering is being organised by them, and I have a feeling we are going to have some strong personalities bringing dinner in to Scrooge’s Parlour over the next few weeks. We met Graham today for the radio spot – he seems to be in charge of the team and he’s a man that positively radiates both calm and kindness. We are in good hands.

Jack and I are settling into our minimalist IKEA digs, although we are bemoaning the lack of various basics like dishcloths and bedside lamps. It’s as spare as spare can be. Even my wardrobe is basic. I couldn’t work out where I’d hidden all my clothes before I sublet my room in London, so I went to Primark at lunch and bought sweatshop stopgaps to take me to Christmas. Now at least I’ve got some pants and socks, lovingly made by crying Bangladeshi children.

I’m settling down to an early bed now in my ripoff Star Wars jimjams. Rest is going to be important these few weeks. At capacity we will be playing to a very big long room, which I did the first time I played this show in Manchester, and which I know is very tiring energetically and vocally – but I’m fit. Although weirdly I’ve got shinsplints. I never had them for the whole of the walk but they kicked in yesterday just strolling from A to B. My lower body, which mended itself so effectively while I punished it for 50 days – it’s now doing the things it refrained from doing when I had to walk fifteen miles a day. Glad it saved it until now but it better damn recover fast.

So – an early bed for us in our warm empty rooms. And tomorrow it’s building the set. Joy.

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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