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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Perspective: The Show Must Go On...

This is going to prove a far more autobiographical post than I typically write.

So when do you call off 'the show'? I'm talking literally in my case, but figuratively, if you want to join in and think of your own projects.

For a good three months, Adam has been working extremely hard to get together a production of Steven Fechter's 'The Woodsman', a controversial little piece about a convicted sex offender. I don't need to tell anyone of the work the director of a small company puts in. He was the one sourcing set pieces, blocking and designing the show (as well as learning lines for the part he was playing).

From the outset we were confronted with a reluctance to engage with the subject matter, and were unable to cast a young actor in the child's role of Robin, instead having to settle for a young looking actor of twenty years of age. I posted about this before, so I won't go into it, but it's useful to get an idea of the challenges we faced from the beginning.

We didn't call off the show then. We cast someone three weeks before opening.

Then there was my work for this. Setting out with a new found confidence, having got a much sought after job with the South West's Literature Development Agency. Spending time with the lean mean bid-writing machine known as Tracey Guiry, is enough to make anyone eager to start raising money for arts projects, so I took a stab for this show. I gave up weekend and holiday time to do it.

We heard nothing and we still didn't call off the show. We received word of our funding a week before the press preview.

I spent time drafting a sponsorship agreement, which ultimately yielded no results. We still didn't call off the show.

With a week until opening, Adam fell ill. Now atopic dermatitis sounds like a bad rash, but it's really no joke when you're up night after night scratching at swollen and broken skin that covers your entire body from the neck down, and shivering because your body temperature is all over the place. After a hospital appointment the day before opening, our director was instructed to take off two weeks and stay in bed, lathering himself in ointments and taking some strong pills to boot.

Did we call off the show? No we most certainly did not.

Our goddess of a stage manager Claudia called around the actors she knew and had replaced Adam within the hour. We were ready to push back opening by two nights. Claudia gave up her precious free time (she works full time) to rehearse intensively with the new actor and our lead.

Then another actor fell ill. We were determined to carry on, pushing back opening until the following week, when it was hoped he would be recovered.

Did we call off the show?

No. We did not.

Given how much time, effort and passion had gone into this show, we did not wish to call off it off. We're locked into paying for the space, and we feel that this show is an important one to stage because it raises awareness of 'the issue' of child sex offenders in the conservative vacuum that is Exeter.

The actors in our show worked hard and were performing well. You only need read the reviews from our Press Night to realise they had nothing to worry about. But once one person loses faith, we can't do anything else. So, readers, if you are an ardent fan of Random Acts, be assured that it's not through lack of effort that this production has not made its way to the stage.

But the show must go on, and despite being denied inclusion in Exeter's Fringe Theatre Festival (you can work out who is responsible for denying a very marketable piece of new writing from being produced), it is onwards and upwards for the Random Acts Team.

Adam is writing two new plays, one of which is a topical drama that discusses the Occupy Movement, a play we hope Claudia will direct.

I have a poetry project I've been meaning to dig into, thanks to the NEO salesman who sat next to me at the NAWE conference (you meet the best people at writer conferences).

The show must go on.

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