Monday, 1 June 2015
My day started with a start after waking up from the most peculiar dream... I'd gone back to my senior school to reprise the role of Alfred P Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady. The only issue was that I'd entirely forgotten the lines, having foolishly assumed they'd merely come back to me after an absence of 24 years! It's fair to say I didn't know them properly back then!
So anyway, the show had already started, I was hiding in the loo, and I could hear my drama teacher angrily shouting my name. It was a classic anxiety dream brought about by the forthcoming final day of this phase of Brass.
So today was the day when the cast, and a series of friends of the production, got to watch the films we'd made and hear the album for the first time. It all happened at NYMT Central, better known as Westminster Under School in Pimlico.
On the way down, I could feel my stomach churning with nerves. This was the last day on this project that something potentially could have gone disastrously wrong. The films could have been in the wrong format, for example, or the CD might have sounded dreadful on the system we were playing it on. I was frantically trying to work out what could go wrong as we drove along. Nathan calls me a pessimist, but I like to have at least considered every negative outcome so that I can have a plan B formulated in my mind.
As it happened, Jeremy had brought NYMT stalwart Charlie in to deal with all the technical issues, and he immediately got stuck into a persistent buzz on the sound system. He's a techno-God and basically ensured that my task today was simply to relax and enjoy the experience of sharing my creativity with everyone for the first time.
It was such a special and magical day. The vast majority of cast and musicians were there, and watching them responding to the music and the films was a great joy. They whooped, cheered, wept, laughed and felt proud of themselves. The cast introduced the songs, and, in the process, shared some of their memories and thoughts, many of which were deeply moving. Andrew Nance dug up a chilling quote about the Leeds Pals: "We were two years in the making and ten minutes in the destroying..." There was a collective sigh from the audience as he said it.
I made a little speech at the end, encouraging the wonderful cast never to become jaded or grand, and always to find the time to offer their skills for free to young creatives, particularly writers, who might not be able to afford to pay them. That is, after all, how the world of theatre will continue to turn, particularly now that the arts are being strangled by successive governments.
Jeremy sold CDs in the interval and they literally flew off the tables. Everybody wanted one.
After a presentation of two films and three recordings, everyone milled around and had some wine and nibbles provided by the lovely Victoria, before sitting back down again to listen to the entire album. At the end of every song, I encouraged the singers and musicians who'd featured most prominently in the number to stand up and take the applause from the room.
When we'd listened to the last song, I noticed that everyone in the room had started standing up, so I went to follow suit until Nathan whispered in my ear that they were standing for me, at which point I obviously became incredibly emotional!
I sincerely hope that people will now go away with their albums and listen to them on a loop to enjoy every subtle nuance that PK has imbued them with. I have already had some wonderful feedback. People have talked of listening to the album repeatedly on their way home and weeping copiously. Many parents came up to me afterwards and shook me firmly by the hand to thank me for giving their children such a fabulous experience.
We went to Pizza Express afterwards to put the experience to bed with stodgy dough, tomato sauce and side salads. I shall miss it hugely.