Sunday, 18 June 2017

Done and dusted

I took my first ever night tube today at 3am. Celebrations after Em found me out west, and actually close enough to Grenfell Tower to see it, looming in the distance: a charred silhouette against the night sky. The housing blocks around it were lit up like Christmas trees. Scores of lights denoting scores of lives. But Grenfell was dead. Pitch black. Blacker than the sky. I was actually quite shocked by the sight of it. I think it's probably the knowledge that it's essentially a very public mausoleum. There are still goodness knows how many dead people in there and it feels somewhat brutal that they're suspended in mid-air rather than being with their families.

I suppose I'm in something of a reflective mood. Em is over. The run is complete. We went out on a corking, emotionally-charged performance. I actually ended up chatting to a lovely chap from the Royal Theatre in Northampton afterwards so didn't get a chance to see people leaving the theatre. It was incredibly hot in there, so it became a little difficult to know whether people were weeping or sweating profusely! The two performances today were accompanied by the sight and sound of audience members furiously wafting their programmes as fans. There's something about my shows which seem to generate inclemently hot weather conditions. Last year's performances of Brass took place in a mega heatwave and I remember a university production of The Crucible sending the audience into a complete torpor, largely because we'd creosoted half of the set the night before the show opened which meant dangerous petro-chemical fumes were dancing in the heavy, sweat-laden air.

Most of the films I've made have also been shot in heatwaves. I burned to a crisp making A Symphony for Yorkshire.

Theatre can be a brutal industry. You spend hours and hours rehearsing a show and then, just like that, everything comes to an end. Em is the product of a year of almost solid writing and probably another six months of fairly intensive research. It could well be that those six performances represent the only public outing for the show. Despite my best endeavours Brass has only been performed eight times despite some of the best reviews I've ever read for a piece of theatre. And yet a cheap and nasty jukebox show like Mowtown hurtles towards a thousand performances.

I nevertheless feel incredibly proud of Em. Various people have described it as epic, which I rather like, especially as I'd wondered whether it was a little "kitchen sink" in its outlook. Almost everyone has described it as highly moving. Some say it's more moving than Brass, despite no one actually dying in Em and my continued belief that it's a fairly light-hearted piece (until the end.) I was highly touched by one of the students from one of the lower years at Central sidling up to me and gushing his praise for the piece, "I'm a working class Northerner" he said, "it touched me like nothing has before..."

I feel so proud of the cast. Some of them have grown beyond all measure during the experience. I was thrilled with them all, and very honoured to have written the last show they'll ever perform together as a year group. I ducked out of their after show party. I'm a bit too old for student union antics and felt they probably needed to let their hair down without me cramping their style. They'd all dolled themselves up and were looking terribly glamorous when I last saw them. I bet they won't be looking quite as sharp when they get home tonight!!

Right! I'm at Archway. I think it's time for me to sign off. Night tubes are hugely efficient. I thought I'd be hanging about for hours. Actually I've sped my way home.

Night all. Look after your loved ones.

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