Up and down to Nottingham

“Surrender to the hibernation,” comes the text message just as I’m settling down to write. It’s good advice. January should generally be cancelled in this country anyway, and apparently Mars is doing something astrological which means we can legitimately chill out on the ambition for a while and blame it on the stars.

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay
his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!” Good old Will. Typical of his wonderful human voice. He puts this opinion about outsourcing responsibility for our behaviour into the mouth of someone whose subsequent actions make them villainous. Edmund eventually goes back to the bottom of the wheel, but the whole of Lear looks at this outsourcing of divine responsibility, the difference between action and expectation, entitlement and the assumption that we all understand one another. Even Cordelia, who just assumes that the simplicity of her assertion of honest love to a parent will carry the weight of her complex feeling. We can never assume. But yeah, I guess my thought is that we still outsource when we want to justify behaviours – we call it different names but the impulse is ancient. “It’s SADS” “Too much coffee” “Lack of vitamins”. We are flawed and will continue to be so. But we are ALL flawed and really the only ones I’m concerned about are the ones who try and pretend that they aren’t.

I got up and picked up a load of dry cleaned costumes and took them up to Nottingham. Then I dropped them off with lovely Joe. There’s a big old scene workshop there and a little corner of it is reserved for Amelie. “When are you gonna remount that show?” That’s what they ask me every time I go up.

I was at the press night for it at Wimbledon Theatre way back when. At the time it hadn’t gone to the West End or had anything like that run it was going to have. I was friends with one of the actor musicians and have done a lot of the driving for it since it started. I know the set and the props backwards because I had to photograph everything in order to send them to South Korea to reproduce. I believe it’s still touring there. It is genuinely one of the most strikingly beautiful heartful romantic shows that I’ve ever seen. It’s an artist’s show. It’s an artful show. Puppets and songs. Handmade magic. All the stuff is mothballed up in Nottingham, which in terms of storage is much better than the place in Bishop’s Stortford where Rotterdam rotted in the damp. It would be easier to remount and might even be profitable. “When are you gonna remount,” asks Joe from the storage. “You know what mate, I might see if I can get the ball rolling on that. I’m clueless about producing but could maybe roll the dice. I’ll call Chris…”

The original tour was so wonderful. Chris was friend of a friend and he met, fell in love with, married and bred with his co-star, the perfectly cast Audrey. I wonder if they could be tempted back onto the road together with the right venues and childcare terms. There’s certainly life in it, especially now when we need optimistic stories so much. But… It’s always about the bottom line. Can an adaptation of a much loved but niche French independent film from the early noughties still pull in a big audience? Likely not without a ton of money on PR. The sad truth is that it can be a great show but you have to put bums on seats with it too because you are paying your workers no matter what sells. If Audrey Tatou defeats Vladimir Putin in single combat and then goes on to solve world hunger then it’ll run and run. But considering the venues they’ve already played, can a remount command the same and bigger audiences? Successful touring has always needs a familiarity to fill out those huge houses and justify the ticket price. Mamma Mia etc. It’s why they’ll milk your previous credits for all they’re worth. They have to.

I can see why it’s sitting there. It would be a full time job for someone to make sure it was known and sold for like a year even before the first performance. Still… Might be worth it… There’s a wonderful romantic story at the heart of the company. There’s meat for PR. I’m tempted to work out who to talk to and put on my producer hat again, but the scale would be such that I would likely have to be just a catalyst and junior to someone who really knows what the heck they’re doing. Still, sometimes you have to roll the dice.

Drop off… I didn’t need a forklift

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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