Well, I did it. I’m sitting on the train back from what feels like 6 months of quite substantial things. Moving to London, having never really lived in a city. Running a marathon across a mountain. Passing my PhD viva. Making a solo show. Sustaining/scraping a living as a freelancer. And learning and performing 65-70 minutes worth of material for a 10 day run at Edinburgh Festival. I should feel proud, I expect. And in ways I am. But really all these are difficult in the anticipation, but once you get there, it’s just a case of putting one foot in front of the other, one word, or one line in front of the other, and trying to mean them.
The show itself was reasonably well received critically. A really intelligent 4 star review from Broadway Baby, 4 stars and a ‘hot show’ feature in the Scotsman, and a couple of lovely mentions from Lyn Gardner in the Guardian. Some very generous lovely tweets from people who saw it (some screencapped below). People who grasped my hand, who cried and hugged me, who said ‘we baby boomers are retiring, now, we who got our education for free, well we’ve got time on our hands now, and we’re fighting for you’, people who sent me messages talking about how talking about being allowed to be afraid is ok was very important to them, that made them think about the Troubles in Ireland, about a couple who lived between two police officers in during the Steel strikes – one who was up for the fight the other “the kind of police officer that was more like a social worker”, the older woman who told me about how her family had been victimised by the far right for years “actually, they are scum” she told me in reaction to a scene in the show where I talk about my difficulty with slogans. An senior arts council officer who told me afterwards he couldn’t work out why it was moving, that the quote of my flyer ‘unexpectedly moving’ was just it.
Some people didn’t like it. Some walked out with hardly a glance as I handed them something to take away with them. Others fidgeted, sighed in frustration, fell asleep. sat in stony silence when I show a funny picture of a funny jumper, and spent the whole time tapping into their mobile phone. I have become a much better behaved audience member after seeing how much you see and hear from that side.
And the show? I’m proud of it, I think. It does what I wanted it to. It fits together right and is as finely balanced as I could make it. I’d like to get it out to people who might more naturally side with the police if they were asked who ‘us’ and ‘them’ is for them. I did a lot of learning about performing. A lot about how each night is different, about when an audience doesn’t know you think you did it better last night, I started getting stubborn, not hurt, by people who demonstrably weren’t engaged, and that was a useful energy in that moment. I learnt about how tired I get, how much else I can sensibly do in a day, and that actually, things that engage my body and not my mind are fundamental to my being able to work well. Also the nerves of the first night make it feel like the best thing you ever did, and you won’t hit that again, but it’s ok. I felt like that anyway. Also, next show, make one that doesn’t require writing a thing out for every individual audience member. (spoiler).
And finally – massively supported again by Alex Kelly, technically, theatrically, and emotionally, throughout the two weeks. Thanks, Alex.
Where next? The lovely Gloria of Little Mighty is going to be booking me a tour for Autumn/Spring ’13/’14 (mostly the latter), and there’s been some other interest in it that might give it a life in other ways. More info if it actually happens.
Otherwise, I go into a couple of new interesting projects in October – as well as the Digital R&D project, I’m going to be working alongside an artist to help make a show about teenage girls and the internet (I’m sort of a digital/arts consultant artist), might get to work as producer on an exciting thing I can’t name yet, and am going to be making over at least a week and a half a NEW SHOW. One that this time is angry. And that will contain punk music. Stay tuned. And in the meantime here’s a screen cap of a section of the tweets about ACW on Twitter. I only know Jamie in real life, and Catherine as a brill thoughtful reviewer, the rest are genuine audience members. Imagine! People who paid to see me say things.