We didn’t want to give it all away just like that, but how do you suggest we contain the excitement?!
Let’s proceed, however, chronologically.
December 2, 2015 – the meeting with the first director
Lizzie Fitzpatrick is no school-girl. She is ambitious, firm, and passionate. I am a new playwright, very shaky, very uncertain, splitting dinner with her at the hotel where I am working. Lizzie instructs me that we will do previews in London in June 2016 (three nights) and we will then fly over to Edinburgh (budget-wise we are probably going to have to walk there) and perform Our Baby for fourteen nights.
January (sometime), 2016 – budgeting
We don’t have the money. Also, we don’t have the administrative backbone to handle what, in reality, are two productions in a very short amount of time. We are short of people, resources and gold. I am full of doubts, but Lizzie reassures me and also offers economical support.
February (sometime), 2016 – net surfing
I am still convinced that we don’t have any of the above, not to sustain what has been our purpose from the beginning: doing the right thing and paying absolutely everyone. The chunk of budget that is there for the cast and crew right now looks like is going to barely cover the price of transportation to Edinburgh, the festival fee, the thatre hire costs, meals and accommodations, and all those headaches that a touring production needs.
In any case, I send the proposal for the three opening nights at The Bread & Roses theatre in London for sometime June this year.
I also find the Camden Fringe Festival. And I think: Why are we going all the way up there, when we have a festival here at home? A fire explodes within and I fly out applications like a tennis ball machine.
February into March, 2016 – does anyone have anything stronger than Lorazepam available?
The Cockpit has replied to both myself and Lizzie to offer the space for Our Baby at the Camden Fringe; aside from the fact that the theatre is expensive as hell – cute to receive a yes, for a change, though! – I had meant to tell Lizzie about the Camden Fringe, but I didn’t do it. The email reaches her out of the blue and, although we have never talked about this, I don’t think she feels that well about it.
I am freaking out on so many ends it’s unbelievable. I end up convincing myself that I do have split personalities, or else I would be feeling so many effing… feelings, all at once.
I feel isolated. Lizzie feels betrayed. Nevertheless, she pulls it all together enough to offer me a tea and a tour of the RA and explain to me, calmly, that she won’t do it. We agree that we are at different moments in our careers: she already did the whole whambam of amatorial production in a tiny theatre in London for six spectators a night, it’s time for her to fly. Me? I am still a mangy, little duckling that doesn’t even know how to say “quack”.
March and April, 2016 – does anyone want to direct this bloody thing?!
While I am too busy looking at my own armpits to notice a certain person that will become another shining star of this production, I begin a fertile dialogue with both The Bread & Roses and The Hen & Chickens. I decide to step away both from the preview in June (you didn’t think we would be ready, did you?!) and the Camden Fringe and simply get a long slot in Septeber 2016, when, director or no director, cast or no cast, I would have run the production, even by means of transforming it into a one-woman show (me, obvs.)
Tessa at The Bread & Roses and Felicity at The Hen & Chickens are both great to deal with. Quick to email back – quicker than me, that’s for sure!- positive about the production, and completely clueless of the fact that I am plastering a smile on my face when I would rather curl down in a corner and speak to a wall until the end of my days.
I have seen many productions at The Hen & Chickens; it is an end stage space well located in Highbury & Islington, above a pub that used to be one of George Orwell’s favourites (there was an article about this, but I can’t find it!!) I have always dreamt of running a production there and I was very keen, as they also operate on a partial box office share agreement combined with a small rental fee. You should never walk away from theatres which ask for part of your earnings, because they will then do everything in their power to push for your show, as it becomes their show, too.
The Bread & Roses theatre was a completely new space for me, however rumoured to me already as a well-run fring theatre. Tessa and Rebecca, both actresses, run in fact their own theatre company together with renting the space to other companies, showcasing new writing in what has become, in less than two years since its opening, another vibrant theatre venue.
April 30th, 2016 – when everything falls back into place
Life is a rollercoaster, a box of chocolates, a tree of cherries, whatever you want it to be. Life is life and it’s complicated and fun and terrible and fun.
So, within a week, I find myself with a director and with a theatre.
I have opted for The Bread & Roses as the space suits better the scene (I won’t tell you more, you’ll come and see for yourselves!!) and the deal was slightly more convenient than with The Hen & Chickens, almost annulling my pre-production costs. I walk away in good terms and in full transparency from Felicity and Mark and email my signed copy of the contract to Tessa.
Whilst we run our callback auditions this coming week to soon announce the cast and crew, head over to The Bread & Roses Theatre website and purchase your ticket now!!