"All change please"
Who could have imagined when I was writing my last blog post to you, on the 18th February 2020, the reality that would sweep across the globe and become universally definitive of this year?
When theaters began to close on the 15th March, a month ahead of our first booked tour date, none of us knew just how serious or just how long the lockdown would be for the industry.
It soon became apparent as, over the course of the next week, our venues began to cancel.
It was strange as it happened. In one respect it was all expected in the circumstances; a formality, business-like. In another, terrifyingly efficient in dismantling, what for me had been more that 7 months of learning and work to put together this small, precious first UK tour...
7 months (unpaid) work - gone - it is hard to explain that
... in the same week the production of Macbeth I was rehearsing was cancelled (most of the actors waived any fee to try to assist the company in their most immediate losses), my 'day-job' closed and the patchwork of freelance events and engagements I had booked for the next two months one-by-one disappeared...
till there was nothing left
... and yet I felt lucky.
Lucky that my family was safe and I was able to stay safe too.
Lucky that our show could pack down and 'hibernate', when other creative companies I know and love were facing the terror of covering the overheads of a venue or staff, without any way of generating income.
Lucky that I had savings I could lean on and that the cost of our life, on our beautiful narrow boat, was low enough not to be a financial hardship.
Lucky - in the end - that I was furloughed from my day-work and that I had earned enough as a freelance creative over the past few years to qualify for the government SEISS scheme.
Others were not so lucky.
Many in the industry are seriously hurting and I implore you to support as many creatives as you can, whenever you have the opportunity over the next weeks, months and years.
On the other hand, totally at odds with the harshness of the situation, was the outpouring of expression, passion and talent I became surrounded by online. The wonder of artists and creatives is that you can take away everything and they'll find a way to do it anyway (there's no people like show people). My social media feed was, and still is, like a Royal Variety Performance every day of the week - the level and scope of talent and creativity was insane and that cannot help but be inspiring.
Beside this I was locked down, in what proved to be a glorious spring, on our narrow boat on the river Avon. I cannot complain. The glory of nature put on her best show (new life, otters, owls) and we had a front row seat. There was plenty of drama, mostly involving ducklings, two of which we found abandoned and being attacked the day we were supposed to be performing for J.M.Barrie's 160th birthday at his birthplace (9th May), we ended up raising them and released them two weeks ago, (we see them often and they are doing wonderfully). It was thoroughly rewarding.
Also, as lockdown was announced just two weeks before we were due to start rehearsals for our tour, there was the strange situation of our wonderful new music for the show coming in just after the tour was cancelled.
If life is art - spring 2020 was a beautiful, terrible, incomparable, unstoppable masterpiece.
There was another undercurrent for us in this time: Dan and I were planning to sell our boat in the Spring in order to try and buy something bigger for the next phase of our life. When we met, Dan had just begun to fit out what became our beloved first home from a metal shell and I always tell people, we didn't date, we built a boat. We built her, worked from her, lived on her, she even picked us up from the river outside the church on our wedding day. She was a physical manifestation of the first six years of our life together. However, she was finished and much as we loved her (and oh, how we love her) we were ready for a new project and in need of more space for Dan to have a workshop (not easy on a boat - though his on-board editing suite was something to behold). So in the time we would have been on tour, we loved her back into her very best shape and as lockdown lifted we put her on the market... Like the bird she was named after, she flew - sold within a week. A week later our offer was accepted on a gorgeous, but run down cottage, with a river at the bottom of the garden, a new 'shell' for us to love and build together. All going to plan we get the keys and move in next week. It's been a lot and it's been quick. As if life itself called 'all change please' and despite the naturally mixed emotions of so many beginnings and endings, there has been a beauty in the nature of these comings and goings that feel to me like the satisfying conclusion of a chapter of life well lived...
...and once we turn the page?
What will the next six months hold for us all, who can tell - and who would dare try to guess?
Betwixt-and-Between will be rebooking Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens at venues for February 2021, hoping by then that the theatre we all love is back up and running. We will return to finish our music - which is by the brilliant Patrick Neil Doyle and is everything and more we could have hoped for, and I will be pushing on with a little collection of writing projects I have been dreaming up in this fallow time...
... and we might get a dog!
Stay safe and hopefully we will be back performing for you soon.