Mummified cat

One of the lovely things about doing the mad job I do is that you get to go to beautiful places at unusual times. Right now I’m sitting in The State Room of Mansion House in York, eating a sandwich while Sam sews my costume up. It’s closed to the public now. Three huge chandeliers hang over my head from a high vaulted ceiling. I’m trying not to get crumbs on the massive expensive carpet. Staring down at me as I munch, the stern faces of various York dignitaries judge my choice of a ham and cheese toastie from the vantage point of portraits taut with symbolism. There they are, strangers every one of them to Pret a Manger, brandishing swords or pens or bits of paper, puffed up. Painted eyes of men forgotten to the dust, but remembered as a story. “You see the one above the stairs? He was banged up for fraud. They took the picture down for years, but we put it back up in the refurb.”

I met the Lord Mayor of York yesterday. Very different from Majid. Maybe he’ll have a portrait in here too one day. He came into the room and told us we couldn’t do the show on Friday. Thankfully we already knew that and had catered for it. The Sheriff is having an event in here tomorrow. She will ride to all the gates in town and do a little ceremony, then come here to the state room for mulled wine and nibbles. It means we get a day off, which will be lovely, even if there are only three shows left. But we might have to pack away all of our props. There are plenty of hiding places in here.

There’s a picture of George IV as Prince Regent. He’s being dressed by his servant and looks like he doesn’t give a toss about anyone. If you know where the catch is, he swings open revealing a secret hidey hole. We’ve built it into the show. It contains a mummified cat, an old hammer and a bunch of bones. Things they found in the walls during the refurb. It’s crazy doing the show in a room like this. So much history. So much that might get broken. But the cat is bizarre.

In the 18th century there was a tradition that if you buried a cat in the foundations of your house it would ward off evil spirits. This creature has been deliberately and expertly mummified. It was placed in the foundations. Now it’s in a cupboard behind the Prince, and yet since it was taken out of the foundations there have been twelve floods in the building, and now they’ve got actors.

I’m hoping that this centuries old unhappy looking guardian will continue to protect me as I run out into St Helen’s Square. There are lots of cops with guns in York today and I’m a bearded man with tanned skin running around in a white gown shouting things. What could go wrong?

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Yorkmore

I will finally be home in five days. I just went to meet one of my agents for lunch, knowing she would be impeccably turned out, and noticing that I still have my walking boots on, along with my brasher trousers, workmanlike ski jacket, and hiking socks. Five days before I can roll into a three piece suit and prance around my Chelsea pad like a posh Christmas fairy. Right now I still look like a pilgrim. And sure enough she looked a million dollars. Damn. Still, she’s fab. I’ve finally found the people I’ve been looking for, for twenty years. Thank God.

There are lots of Christmas pick-ups to do, some as far away as Guildford, and it’s not too late to join the madness. The Christmas jaguar is properly doing the rounds. Numbers are close to 14 now I think. The week after Christmas I can chill and I damn well will. That’s what I’m looking forward to most. A week down, and because Carol paid a week in lieu, I’ll get a paypacket on the Friday after a week of lounging around.

Meantime York, craziness, Carol and fun.

This little city is ramjammed. Everyone is Christmas shopping. Lots of people are off work now. It’s all go. Our audience for tonight almost doubled in a day. Maybe we’ll start to pack out now. After all, it’s hard to get a seat in the coffee shops. Uber is constantly surging. It’s chocka in the centre. I’m running out into crowds at the end of the show, which makes a change from a Sheffield car park with the occasional teenage drug dealer.

Right now I’m enjoying a rare moment of calm. The last few days have been bonkers. Tonight as I’ve mentioned, the agent is watching. But that’s fine because I like and trust her and the show is unbreakable so it’s not a pressure run – it’s going to be good to share it with her. But I’m getting my blog down early because I’m anticipating some booze tonight. Even though all I’ve done today so far is have lunch.

I’m in a coffee shop on Davygate. Everyone is thronging past below me with their shopping. I’ve been tempted for a while to go and get a new coat, as the only thing I’ve got is my ski jacket and Jack keeps taking the piss out of me for wearing it, but I’m home in less than a week and I blew more than I should’ve on Camino, plus this is the worst time of year to buy things. Which reminds me… I’m off to the butcher to see if I can order a turkey…


They’re out of turkeys, but they’ve got goose. I ordered one from a butcher in the shambles. I’ll have to buy a bird, sorry vegans, but i have neither the time nor the ability to cook non meat alternatives this year but don’t let it make you think I’m not working that shit out. This year, appropriately for Scrooge, it’s a goose. Brian and I will hammer out the details nearer the time. We are both crazy busy. For now, having the bird is enough. Meantime I’m awake, reading my book in the kitchen, hoping that the washing machine will finish with washing the tablecloths soon so I can hang them up to dry and go to bed. I volunteered it tonight. Sam is with her boyfriend. Jack is sick. Every year the tablecloths are an issue, but in this venue the lighting is so bright that it exposes all the stuff we can usually cover as flavor. We laid out damp rags two years running, and built it into the show. But the room is open to the public in the day as a museum space, and there’s only so much we can do to stop the cloths looking cockawful.

Anyway. The washing machine just stopped. I’m gonna find ways to hang everything…

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And I did. Oh how I did. I challenge you to judge my hanging. All over it? That’s what they say. All over it. Acting hanging laundry king.

First night York

I am in bed. Today was long. I forgot about the blog until just now, as I was about to switch off the bedroom light and crash. That’s unfamiliar. I usually get an alarm bell in my head. But maybe it’s because today has been full of those alarm bells, inevitably, as we have been working stuff out. Still. Just as the light went off it was Big Ben. BLOGGGG.

Early this morning we arrived at Mansion House. If I think about it I can’t quite believe that we walked in there less than 24 hours ago. I started by rigging the sound system, and taping cables to the underside of tables. That’s a really good stomach workout. If I’m ever peddling “Theatre Fitness” as a desperate money-spinner, I’ll include “Gaffering Wires to the Underside of Tables Fitness Fun” – AKA CableTables. It forces you to stay in the sweet spot where the best stomach work is done. And it means that nobody will kick the wires and unplug the speakers mid show. I knew it from last year, managed to outsource it to Dan in Sheffield, and it’s gone back home to me now.

We still have a tiny bit of tech to cling onto as Jack and I play this low-fi beautiful room in York. I hesitate to say it – because we will find out tomorrow whether we can leave the room in show-state – but if they are as reasonable as they have been tonight then we might have a glorious run ahead of us. We left things loosely dressed…

We had a great house tonight. Teething problems around the speed of the dinner. But all of that is secondary. We have worked out the show in this room. And it’s the show we love, minus tricks, plus fluff. Now we start to refine it here, where it takes time and effort to even adjust the lighting state. Sam Jack and I just work together to improve and develop. This immersive work is often much broader in terms of skillset. Yes, you can portion yourself off, and insist that it’s beyond your remit as an actor to work out how you can make the moment right for you. You can show up at the half, warm up, and then complain about the set or the marketing or whatever. I’ve done similar. Most actors have. But we are making theatre here. Theatre is about community. If you accept the fee, you become part of the team. I learnt the hard way – while working in a pub theatre over a decade ago on a show I actively didn’t believe in – that you directly get out what you put in. And I want a lovely week, so I’ll put the work in to make it one, knowing that Sam and Jack will do the same. We could both just pitch up at the half and do the show. It would survive. We would look comparatively crap but acceptable because the show works.

But Sam, Jack and I are away from home, in a new room. We could show up at the half and ask her what she’s built for us. But all three of us would prefer to build it together, and our self-identities as makers trump any self-esteem hangovers about how actors always have to show up late, test the doorhandles and say “uh … excuse me…” We both went to top drama schools darling. We know what it means to be an actor. In fact, we get to help define it, as werew still going decades later. With that in mind, my advice is “climb down, darlings, and look at the people you’re not looking at. Not yourself in the mirror again.”

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Beware of the leopard

Morning found me stumbling with my rucksack from our Airbnb. Another dry night and I was coughing, clearing my throat, testing my range. *cough* *hack* *mumble* *sing* In one hand I had loads of plastic bags. One with my laptop. One with my costume. One with random bits. In the other hand was an open bottle of red wine. We had lost the cork. I was taking it to Deli to cork it there. Waste not want not. I was wearing my heavy clothes. Horrible old ski jacket covered in paint. Hoodie. Walking trousers. Walking boots. Pre-coffee, jolting through the morning, occasionally loudly saying random words. I couldn’t work out why Jack was so far behind me until a bunch of lads going to work on the building site turned round after one of my loud ejaculations and looked at me for a bit longer than is polite. This shambling grumbling hulking bearded bagman with his open red wine first thing in the morning…

We were going in to tear down the rest of the set. Flats down and carry the buggers back upstairs. Rostra back where we found it. Everything into boxes, in some loose order. Rebuild wardrobe. Take down the fireplace and the mirror. Tear off all remaining dressing. Wait for the van. They’re half an hour late.

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Eventully we all load the van, then we all drive to York. Our individual cars can’t stay in Sheffield.  After a morning breaking things up and resetting for Deli, we all just drive. Then we meet the van and unload it into Mansion House. All the muscle for the unload? – it suddenly needs to be somewhere else. So it’s Jack and I again, on our day off, hoiking really unwieldy tables upstairs while Mark helplessly watches us to make sure we don’t hit the expensive walls. He occasionally lifts a finger. Mostly he worries. Jack and I get to work. We shift it all into the room where the show will take place. Usually it’s open to the public but not tomorrow. We build what we can but we are running on empty now.

“It’ll give us ownership,” I say to Jack. And that’s very true. We are already running the possibilities of the space. We’ve learnt the light switches. When you double as actor and tech you have a much deeper understanding of what is actually possible in the space, and why. We are thinking about what to add, what to change, what we can solve, how we can respond to where we are. But right now we are back at home and it’s just approaching 1am. We both adore this job but it’s all encompassing. I just had the best bath I’ve had for ages, and now I’m going to read for half an hour and turn in. Tomorrow we work 10-6 on build and then 7.30 to late on show. This unit of three massive geeks. We are going to make something seriously glorious in York. And everyone in your address book should come and see it. SELL SELL SELL. But yeah, frankly, it’s glorious. It’s the ultimate Christmas show. You get a good meal and you get two very different very dynamic actors literally working to the very edges of their energy. It’s a steal. But the tickets are impossible to find online. Literally impossible.

Check out this teaser for Arts York. It has an interview of sorts with me. Marketing has been brilliant.  But imagine you were impulse buying. Follow the links on the site provided. You won’t find us.

If any of you can find our show (not the one man Christmas Carol in the de Grey rooms) I’ll give you a bun. I had a good old dig and found nothing but that one man show, after diligently following the York link in that article. It’s all very well for York Theatre Royal to host our ticketing but not if they bury it completely. No wonder we haven’t grown our houses for a fortnight.

Here’s a ticket link that should actually work.

The timeless Douglas Adams springs to mind:

“But the plans were on display!”

On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes …yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”


Come see Christmas Carol. Beware of the leopard.

Last Sheffield show

It’s ten past four. Our last Sheffield show is at six this evening. Then we’ll break up the set and get it ready to load the into the van for York. Jack and I have got use out of our Ikea flat with its dry heat and sweaty bedsheets. Sheffield has been good to us. Who knows what York will bring, but whatever it does it’ll be fun.

There’s a pleasure in the prep. Here we are again, dimly lit, adjusting candlesticks and moving books. Even if we were doing the last show ever we would still be tweaking and improving. It’s in our nature.

But today we’re knackered. It’s not about to let up either. After the show we have to break the set. Then tomorrow in our day down we’ll be dragging around steeldeck and dropping flats and loading a van. Then we’ll drive to York and unload a whole load of tables and build an approximation of something that’s playable, and do it all again in an amazing room in York with a very expensive carpet and no tricks.

It’s going to be lovely… Send your Yorkshire auntie. Consider coming on the 19th. We have 8 people in that day, and one of them is my agent. Tiny audiences can be very special, but it’ll be the devil’s own job to persuade Jack out of cutting Fairytale of New York…


Last Sheffield show done. We had a good Sunday house too. Lots of kids. Some Morris dancers. Friendly geeky people. I got them to sing a beautiful song together. They took no persuading, really. They are company regulars, and had come dressed up – they tried to persuade Ebenezer to let Jay Gatsby off his debt. I refused. “He’s an Oxford man”. (Oh God. Immersive theatre in-jokes. Here we are eating our own tail).

Then after the show we took the set down. Still filled with adrenaline, occasionally slurping alcohol, the three of us went at it with knives and wazzers and sweat. We worked out what we have for York. We put things into piles. We stripped wallpaper and moved furniture and took off shelves and dismantled tables and hazers and sound systems. Some of the audience were still the other side of a curtain from us as we deconstructed the magic and put it in boxes for next year. We have to treat York as a totally different show. Because, essentially, it will be. The focus will be much tighter on the two of us. “Oh look! Traps!! Shiny things!! Shadows!!” Nope. It’s gonna be Jack and Al in a bright room vs buskers. “Do some acting, you wankers.”

We will. York is the city this show was made for and made in. It’s a city I’ve worked in so many times now it really feels like a second home. I’m really looking forward to going back to basics. And the experience of unscrewing all the traps is only going to help me remember to let go of them.

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It remains to be seen what form of vocal subtlety will be possible in that room. I kind of look forward to finding out live on Tuesday.

Parents

Jack had his mum and dad come up today to see the show. He gives them a great big coin from Scrooge’s money pot and tells them that all they have to do is show it to the staff to be given free drinks. They believe it and they show it proudly. The bar staff take notes and Jack discreetly settles the tab at the end of the night.

Sam had her mum and dad come up last week. They came a long way to attend. She doesn’t get to see them regularly. Her dad has a steamroller museum, and she knows how to operate all of the machines. They have  a beautiful father/daughter friendship…

I still struggle with the whole dead parents thing… Camino was about packaging my grief regarding mum. “If only I hadn’t been focussing on my career etc” I’ve taken the time to understand that and put it away. But seeing both of the other members of our three person team bringing their family units -that triggered interesting, powerful feelings.

Three times today I’ve picked up on meaningless logistical details related to Jack and his parents.  Three times today, grief has poured its icicle down my throat and squeezed salt water from my eyes. This is a new grief though. A simpler grief. I find my parents finally have equal weight. Now it’s just the fact that there is nobody to risk embarrassing me when they come and watch my show. My dad isn’t there being clever and subversive. My mum isn’t there making friends with literally everyone and then suddenly artlessly throwing out an opinion she learnt from Paul Dacre. I miss them both, my mum and dad. I’d love to feel that tension.

I wish my recent friends knew my parents. Everyone in my year at Guildhall remembers my mum, as how could they not… She was a huge personality and got stuck in with them. And those few people who knew dad – even when he was sick he was a legend.

They were my parents. I learnt through their example, and defied them as much as I later came to match them. They were very much not the parents who get mardy with you about how your baby should sleep, or what colour you should’ve painted the living room …

I know how to safely stand on top of a moving car. Thanks dad. I have no concern about speed if I’m in control of the vehicle – my reflexes are needle sharp when I’m focused thanks to training from the year dot. I am – though – addicted to adrenaline, and speed is my home. Thanks again, dad, dammit . The world usually feels too slow.

Then mum: I listen to and understand people’s troubles, and it’s a big part of how I live my life to do so – I am available to my friends emotionally and spiritually and I take time in that without noticing. Thanks mum. She taught me that. She was centre of a remarkable web of self confessed imperfect people.

Seeing people with their mum and dad always makes me wistful. They lived well those two. And maybe that’s worth the years they missed… I’m the youngest, after all. And I’ve avoided babies so far, even if I’ve always liked the idea of being a dad. But fuck it, I’ve only got their memories. Memories can’t babysit. And if they did I’d come back to find my daughter driving an antique dragster while phoning someone up to ask how they are…

Hey ho. I had to run into this tonight in my nightie. Both of them would’ve laughed at that one.

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Waxing lyrical

Jack is screwing around with candles. Everything always gets covered with wax on this set. Everything. Wax on your clothes. Wax on the pages of the ledger. Coins and carpets covered in wax. Wax on my arm, dropping hot as I’m talking. Wax on the tablecloths, that we scrape off with knives before the show. Wax all over my hand in the dark. Wax on the armchair. Wax in the mug, on the table, on the ring, on the walls, in my hair, on my slippers. Wax wax wax.

Sixty people in tonight. I think I’m coming down with a cold. Either that or I was snoring all night last night. I hope it’s the latter. All I know is that my throat hurts and I feel tired. It’s a Friday too which means it’s likely to be carnage in here. We’ll need to have our wits about us. The next two days are likely to be full on.

Jack and I are in hours before we should be. We’ve been attempting to do maths with seats. Sixty is about as many as we can fit. We reckon we can cram them all in, so long as it’s not the Sheffield Hamburger Appreciation Society Christmas drinks. I’m letting him do the work right now though. I’m sitting in Scrooge’s chair talking to you while he cuts candles. Call it character research.

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There are only 4 more shows in this space, but we are still adjusting things obsessively like the pair of geeks we are. We think we have solved the problem of wax all over the tablecloths, without going too far in the direction of nobody being able to see my face. We got some tea light holders from Poundland and Jack is shoving tiny little mini candles into them. The show doesn’t start for two and a half hours, and all the traps are already set. Music is playing. The spider festoons are casting their warm glow over me in my comfy chair. We always make a home. This is the best one yet, as we aren’t sharing it with another company and its not freezing cold. Manchester was a bit like this, but back then we were treated more like actors, and we weren’t involved in the build. Oh how times have changed. It’s great to have ownership over the space.

York is looming next week. A totally different show in a totally different room, with a guy that runs the space who keeps changing the rules. A new host of questions which will have to be answered live. It looks like I’ll have to run the bar through my iPad. We won’t have any tricks, we will have no darkness and no silence. We have gotten very used to being able to hold simple moments in candlelit silence. I fear these will be the last few shows this year where that’s possible. And then it’s back to London, to uncertainty, to home, to day jobs, to friends, to January.

Messy

I miss home. My flat. Brian and I winding down on weekends. Pickle. The view. Being in London. That’s where I seem to have shifted my centre for now. Maybe one day I’ll go home to Jersey or The Isle of Man. But for now, while I’m still in the struggle, London is the epicentre. And frankly I can’t imagine being in a position where I can sod off and live by the sea again between jobs. There are some serious jobs between me and that sort of freedom. I’ll find them. Or they’ll find me. If this industry cracks before my head.

Meanwhile I’ll keep having a ball doing stuff I believe in. This show continues to be a joy. But I’m still on the road. It’s pretty normal to be on the road in this job, living out of a pack. I probably wouldn’t think twice about this time away if it hadn’t come right after my Camino. I’ll probably be doing a lot more touring in the next few years as a direct result of my inability to fall in love again. Men my age often have infants. I can’t predict the next year but I suspect touring theatre will be part of it unless my heart thaws.

Sheffield has been good. Delightful audiences, who get behind the fun of it, and get stuck in. There are occasionally some weirdies, but usually it’s people here to have fun. The weirdies usually get subsumed into the general roar of the crowd.

The audience tonight was lovely, but with three people identifying themselves as coming from The Crucible – the Sheffield theatre that used to be run by our ex Guildhall man Dan Evans. It’s one of the many regional theatres I’ve never auditioned for. Well I’ve auditioned for none of them if I’m honest. I think that’s why I’m still plugging. If you haven’t had the chances, you hold on for them. Anyhow suddenly afterward the show there are these three humans. They were making out like they were in marketing, then saying they were front of house. It was all a little shifty really. They seemed lovely though. I engaged for a while but moved on when I sensed they were holding. Still, they suggested I get in touch when I’m next up. They asked if I was going to work at the Crucible. “Definitely in the next two years,” I told them, with the confidence of someone who has never auditioned for the place and doesn’t even know who the casting director is and can guarantee that the casting director doesn’t know who he is. Unless it was one of those three. My esprit d’escalier was very much an “oh. I bet they are super big at the Crucible.” Still . They had a good show i think. One of them was the Blind Man Buff idiot. Here’s me sneaking an audience photo through the two way mirror as they were coming in… Shameless…

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Jack just caught my attention as I sighed long and hard. I’m fed up, it’s undeniable. It’s great to do this job for five years. I love my craft so much. Time to stop feeling shit about it and get more work wider and longer. Or make my own and teach it to sing…

Charity

It’s not far now from the end of our run in Sheffield. We no longer have a charity bucket for donations at the end of the show, because the one we were using belongs to the venue. Last night we used a pint mug because it vanished. Tonight, I think, nothing – which I didn’t realise until too late. Every night after the show I tell people about this year’s charity, and I ask them to donate. Every night we get lots of donations (apart from tonight.) We can’t use a venue bucket, you see, because what if people actually intend their donation for them? That’s the issue, I’m told. “What if we tape over everything that relates that bucket to them?”, I ask. “No”. We can’t use it because it’s theirs. That’s what it comes down to. Knowing this now, we will just use one of our hats going forward. I’d like to have known that properly before the bucket was taken. It was just … taken, no solution offered. “Ours”. We lost the donations of a lovely audience because I couldn’t get my head around “better no bucket than the wrong bucket”.

I try to ignore how bureacracy can become more important than people. It’s societal, constant, universal and completely at odds with the message of this show. I’m sure in this case it’s just a miscommunication. Our hosts are brilliant hosts and we have been really happy here. But it reminds me how we all isolate ourselves into little sad Islands.

Jack and I had a ball this evening. The audiences are lovely generally, and this evening we had the amazing drunken R, front and centre, unbelievably hammered with atrocious hiccups in all the quiet bits. For a Wednesday audience it felt like a weekend. I suspect everyone is winding out of work now, and shifting into the Christmas season. It’s becoming socially acceptable to go crazy midweek. We can build around most disruptions, and her hiccups became part of the show. It’s always better to get something than nothing. There were some moments where we had to work very hard to win it back, but mostly I was glad of hiccuping R.

Now we are relaxing at home, winding in to an early bed. Jack and I had a little squabble tonight, but it’s solved. I’m a sensitive soul. It only takes the tiniest bit of division and weirdness to influence my mood. If people start vanishing down shouldholes, or setting themselves up as better than their equals, or making a fuss for the hell of it, or throwing weightless weight around, my hackles go up. There is no negativity whatsoever in our little team though thank God. And nothing is coming to me from the venue either. Front of House has been constantly very helpful to us. I’m not sure why I’m sniffing bad air. I suspect it was just a brain fart. As I say, I’m extremely sensitive.

I’m going to miss this space. Theatre Deli Sheffield is an awesome building with huge potential run by a very old friend of mine – it’s great for us to build their audience, and push people to their bar to make a bit of basic profit for them as they facilitate us as makers, and put on a big Christmas party.

We’ve built a glorious playing space for this show and we’ve used lots of their stuff. We’re using their steeldeck to provide better sightlines than we are used to having so people can really get the message. It’s their flats providing the backdrop. We are using  their furniture to raise Scrooge, to tease out moments and generally to dress the set. They’ve been ace and have helped us build the best set yet. If it’s a bucket that’s the sticking point then we can use a hat.

Sam, Jack and I are making a beautiful show here out of energy, time and positivity. I’m proud of what we’ve done and looking forward to the coming week. Here’s a mid clear up shot – the only photo I took today.

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Scouting York

The fog is down today, the sun a cold joyless distant ball at the back of the clouds, almost unrecognisable as the sun. Jack drove us to York through this apocalyptic haze. Time to see where we’ll be the week before Christmas.

It’s the newly refurbished Mansion House – home of the Mayors of York, overlooking the extremely busy and vibrant St Helen’s Square. This won’t be the first time I’ve run around that square in a nightie. There’s a lovely lamp-post. There are absolute bucketloads of bewildered shoppers to wish a Merry Christmas. But it requires a bit more courage than the current venue.

Sam, Jack, Brian and I built this Sheffield playing space into a huge empty hole. We rigged it up with all sorts of traps and lights and tricks. We managed to align it with a giant blackboard. We went drilling holes in flats and running wires through them, screwing rat traps to desks, taking the backs off wardrobes, turning chairs into stools, dragging in steeldeck to raise the audience, wallpapering and painting and tweaking and filling everything with smoke and lights and sound. We keep adding to it as we perceive a need. It’s just as much a growing part of the show as the show. In York we will lose the lot, but it’ll be replaced by a very real and striking room full of portraits of old Mayors. We gain a grand room, and all the things that that can bring to us for free. We lose the control we currently have over lighting and sightlines. We have to open doors with care but the doors are impressive. We can’t swing on the chandeliers, but we can use them instead of our spider festoons. We gain ridiculous unavoidable environmental pomp. Scrooge is going to have to be more pompous than ever before…

It could well be unwieldy, this York run, let’s face it. Even if it’s unknown right now. The fear is there’s a lot that can be shifted by the wrong busker in the square at the wrong time. I suspect it’s going to be impossible to avoid noise and light as we work. It’s down to Jack and I to abandon all of the things we’ve grown to love in Sheffield – the quietest space we’ve ever worked. To adapt, and to make a new show that fits this York space. No smoke, no mirrors. No silence. No darkness. Us. With that in mind we need sightlines to be ace.

At The Arts we had a terrible busker outside with a traffic cone. He would come and set up shop almost like clockwork in time for “Yet to Come”. He’d be there shouting “When the Saints Come Marching In” through his cone as Scrooge went inside himself. We will probably have to work out what to do with the buskers in St Helen’s Square in the two tender moments of past and yet to come. Then it’s just about how we adjust lighting states etc.

We are excited about it, this York run. We can let stuff go and have fun. Jack and I can make theatre anywhere now, and we’ll continue to do so. And we have SJ working with us, who is brilliant at all the things we aren’t. It’s the perfect triumvirate. I know that the three of us can solve all the questions that were thrown up today by our York site visit. We built this beauty into an empty Mothercare building in Sheffield and have had nothing but joy for weeks with one week to go…

I love York now after years of working there. I’ve had so many jobs up there over the years that it’s started to feel like a second home. I’m looking forward to a week there again. It’ll be a homecoming.

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