Sunday, February 13, 2005

English Reviewers [Without the Scottish Bards]

English Reviewers [without the Scottish Bards]

SSoB took its first baby steps into the world today. In other words we had our press preview. Not that there were many press there. Indeed the actual Oxford wide press don't descend until opening night. Today was for the student press, which is rather important in a town dominated by its university. The last press preview I attended was back in October 2003, for a production whose theatre bid I'd put together, which I'd enjoyed but not felt the thrill of nervousness that I felt today. After all, if the previewers hated that show there was no skin of my, erm, feet. My name wasn't anywhere, people weren't judging me. Today, however, was different entirely. Indeed it was probably different to anything I'd ever experienced before in terms of press preview. In many ways I've had the nice part of the bargain in this show. I've gotten to woo at the promo material, watch rehearsals and then get free tickets at the end of it but I haven't had to do any of the crappy stuff that theatre normally involves. The most intense experience I've ever had at a preview was for "Charity", a new-writing musical which was the first show I ever souly produced. For a term I literally lived and breathed that show. And because I was the Producer I had my fair share of crap to deal with, from running round for police hats, to bundling actors into taxis to go and perform in schools, to sorting out the legislative nightmare which was the OFS. I got the good stuff too [indeed I still rank it as my favourite show I've worked on], but the crappy stuff was there in bucketfulls. And because I'd been so intimately connected to every single aspect of the show, literally actors couldn't breathe without me knowing about it, I felt an overwhelming fear at the preview. I felt as if I were being judged. Of course I wasn't. Reviewers don't care who does book, or who dealt with the porters when the window in the rehearsal room got broken. With SSoB, however, I am being judged. Not least because it's explictly being sold as New Writing. It comes with a massive logo on all its promo - New Writing Festival 2005. Even the slowest amongst us can pick that up. So they're going to talk about the writing. So in effect they're going to talk about me. Which is an oddly disconcerting experience when in many ways I feel that since I haven't had the crap with this show, that I've gotten to flit in and flit out without having to make any of the tough decisions, that it shouldn't be about me. But it is. And it will be. And I know that come the end of the week when the reviews come out I'll be more nervous than I've ever been. Because SSoB is me and up until now the only people who've had access to it have said nice things. But the reviewers don't know me, they're not my friend, or a potential director, or an actor so they have lots of scope for not saying nice things. Which is scary.

At the moment, however, I'm oddly calm. Almost as if I'm surveying the whole process. And, added to this, one of the reviewers laughed. Repeatedly. Which has to be a good sign.

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