….eee’s making it up as he goes along…

Monty Python

So we are leading up to our launch on 12th March at the ever supportive Norwich Arts Centre. Before I left for 4 days of blissful forgetfulness with my lady in Amsterdam, I felt a certain relief that we now have a some key people in place – as well as the research team we have commissioned three committed writers through the UEA creative writing school, a brilliantly bouncy musical director with a band to back him up, two stage managers and then, finally – and brilliantly – a production manager to take some of the logistical headaches out of it all. They are not good for us creative types …

Now I am back at my desk and head scratching again over schedules. When we had our first Common Lot meeting about the project – with those who have now been diligently researching away – I said “We don’t know how we’re gonna do this – but we’re gonna do it”. And it strikes me as we move forward – with no script or cast as yet, and no idea of the practical demands that will ensue – that we still don’t know how we are going to do it. Not only that , but the idea behind the project is so relevant, and so important that there is a great deal of scope for what our imaginations [and our budget] can achieve.

For example just this morning I got back to emails from a local school in the area of one of the estates we are playing to, a message from a museum curator looking to set up a migration network with academics and creatives, and a notification that Refugee Week 2017 is one week before the show itself goes up. These things alone hint at the possibilities for participation, enjoyment and learning that can accompany the show. Publications, singing sessions, art and story workshops, maybe even dance classes? Theatre as the excuse for all kinds of fun. I am grateful that the Town Close funding is flexible so that we can use the money next to “Creative Practitioners” in interesting ways. The Common Lot’s soul is one of inclusion and – now we have the capacity with the funding – we must reach out.

At the same time I am struggling to pin down exactly how we involve as many people as we can AND create a lock-tight production with a well rehearsed cast. I have a first production meeting tonight – with the god-sent production manager – to try and work some of these things out in time for saying something a little more concrete on Sunday.

One of the Common Lot principles is “We have what we need – and if we don’t we can find it”. I am getting used to things emerging out of the mist as we approach them. Only just over one month has gone by since we received the grant from Town Close and in that time a creative team has found its way to us and several other very useful people have committed to the project. Together with our researchers, we will discover the ways to produce this show and make it an event that, especially for the communities we are visiting, will be something they can involve themselves in and enjoy.

After Sunday we will have a better idea of others who would like to take part or support us in different ways. I daresay a few happy surprises will be thrown up and give us more thoughts on the possibilities that the big idea brings us. And yes, necessarily, we will be making it up as we go along.

We just have to keep moving forward …