The run is now finished.  It’s been a very tiring, but very exciting and satisfying three weeks.  It’s hard to believe it’s over.  This last week saw sell-out houses and enthusiastic audiences.  There lies one part of this last lesson, and this is a part I often forget.  Ultimately, the point of the exercise is getting “bums in seats.” You put on a play so people can see it.  In London, at least, you need to run a minimum of three weeks in order to get reviewers to come, reviews printed, word spread.  That much we know.  And it is ultimately the responsibility of the producers to do all the marketing and pr that ensures that those bums find their way into our theatre.  Ticket sales for the first week are rarely a problem.  Everyone’s friends and families come and the excitement of the opening carries you through.  But then comes the second week. Word hasn’t yet spread around.  People think they have plenty of time to get there.  And then you have the theatre sending you emails asking what we are planning to do about those audiences of 4 people.  It gets scary.  But you do live through it and week 3 , the final week, arrives.  The audience picks up, you’re playing to sell-out crowds, and you start to ask yourself why you didn’t book in for a four week run instead.  Well, we  haven’t yet taken that risk.  Perhaps if ever we have enough of a cushion in the bank account we will.  But for now, we are left wondering how much money we might have made if we had been able to do it.  It’s frustrating, to be sure, but I suppose there’s also a lot to be said for leaving them wanting more.

And so our run is over.  One of the highlights of the last week was when playwright J.D. Smith flew over from the States to see his show on its feet.  Watching his face while he watched his show was priceless.  Happily, he was thrilled with what we did with his play, as were a group of other local writers and friends who came out that night to support him.  Two of them, Vanessa Gebbie and Tania Hershman, were fellow alumni of the Irish writers’ retreat, Anam Cara, which I’ve mentioned here quite often.  Here’s a picture of the four of us outside the theatre…

J.D. came to two further performances as well, so he had the  chance to experience the show without being nervous, and see the subtle changes that occur from one show to the next.

Then came the last performance, and although the show is over for the cast (but for the drinking), there is still more to be done, namely “the get out.”  This is where the production team comes back to the theatre and works well into the night and over to the next day to break down our set, get it out of the theatre and carried away to wherever the various bits and bobs are going, and then repaint the entire place black so that it is left in the same condition we found it in three weeks earlier.  By noon on Sunday, the next show is being moved in and the entire process starts all over again.  But not for me.  Now I take a breath, head off to the States for my summer holidays where my writing shack awaits and I can get down to the business of completing final edits and beginning new research. Every year I struggle a bit with this transition from one part of my life to the other,  but this year is especially difficult.  After five years and  four CurvingRoad productions,  I’ll be saying goodbye to my co-founder, Executive Director and dear friend, Sonja Rein, who is moving on to a new life in the States.  I’m thrilled for her, but rather devastated for me.  Of course our friendship will live beyond the distance soon to be between us.  But CurvingRoad will now be taking it’s own next curve, moving into a new phase, and that sort of change is always painful and frightening.  We will continue, of course.   Come September we will be involved in an exciting Fringe project which I’ll tell you about later.   But I’ll be doing it without Sonja.  And I’ll be looking for someone new to join me in this crazy and wonderful part of my life.  Someone who longs to be a part of the theatre.  Someone with lots of creativity, lots of drive, some extra available time, and the ability to work for nothing (at least for now). If anyone out there is interested, or if anyone of you know of someone who may be, do let me know.  But for now, we’ve put this baby to bed.