It’s a bank holiday and there’s not much I can do except worry. Everyone is having a well deserved break – but it doesn’t seem right – there’s too much to do! 30 days before opening and the anxiety dreams are kicking in – poor Amanda has to put up with me waking up suddenly, shooting bolt upright and saying things like “The Boy Band!” or “Paint! – where do we get paint!” or “Shit! The programme!”
If I think too much about how much we need to get together in the coming month it is no wonder I get like this. Three scenes need redrafting, a dance number needs creating, the props needs building, the costumes need sourcing, photos for the set have to be sourced, I have to make a plan to cover a cast member who just cannot make the last show – I could go on and on.
Of course, this is all happening – plenty of really good committed people are working together to sort it out – and with any project the last 3 weeks gives everyone the fear and we find ways of pulling it out of the bag. I just wish it wasn’t like that – and that it wasn’t just snatches of evenings and weekends in which to make the show happen. In my ideal world, I would have everyone locked away with me for the rest of the rehearsal period and we would only be focussed on the show. The trouble of making amateur theatre [i.e. for the love not the money] is that the cast and crew unfortunately have other lives – families to look after, jobs to go to, gardens to tend. It is hard for me to live with the fact of it, but unfortunately it is true.
So, I walk around with an increasing ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, and have to be careful I don’t become a bit too edgy. The other Sunday one cast member, around whom I had planned the afternoon’s work, was suddenly unable to make it – and all my plans had to be changed on the spot. This, coupled with my ridiculous decision to give up smoking on the same day – meant I was a bit of a sore-headed bear that day.
Thank god for those that are used to working with me who were able to reassure the newer cast members they had seen it all before and say things like “…he doesn’t mean it really“. I wish my friends didn’t have to mop up after me – I wish I could sail in looking calm and leading by example – I don’t. I am a ball of nervous energy and driven by fear of not pulling it off and the desire to ensure, with all the constraints and time pressures on us, we will be the very best we can be: “Strive to be brilliant!”
We will pull it off. Even as I type those words I can hardly believe it. But we will – and all those working hard to make it happen will be rewarded by that sense of achievement that is, every time, worth all the agonies and doubts.
It is only theatre – but it’s free and expansive and important – not just to us, but to the people who share in it. Our show will make for empathy, understanding and interest in the other. It will serve to develop our sense of identity as a city – built on tolerance and welcome. So, it does feel important – and I guess that’s another reason why the anxiety takes hold. I so want it to matter, and for those that see it to remember it.
I also have to comfort myself – hard as it is – with the good things that are happening: the start of the community art workshops on the estates tomorrow; the massive reach we are achieving within the city’s schools; the new friends we are making and the love, support and great goodwill that is growing within the group.
And maybe, perhaps in July, I’ll put down the fags and finally get some sleep….