Final reflections – part two

Image: Julian Hughes

Now Ollie is away for four months I have time to reflect on how the show will be developed when he gets back before we tour in 2011. I think we could make more of the man dressed as a bear waiting for his stage direction, sitting in the wings, playing cards or Connect 4 for money. Maybe losing a tenner on a single hand of paper scissors stone. Like I did when I worked backstage on Grease in the West End. Ollie’s part-time job as a fire officer at the Nottingham Playhouse was an early influence on the process as he sits in the wings and watches plays, waiting for a fire that will probably never happen and, even if there is a fire, his job is not to intervene but to make sure everyone leaves the theatre safe and sound.

An audience member called Melanie said it made her think about growing old and how we say ‘You’ve lost your edge’ and how policeman look younger and how she got called Madam in John Lewis. She said it was sad and she felt sorry for me, working with someone younger than me. She understood how I felt, being pushed out of the way by the younger generation. Interestingly, a lot of Ollie’s friends identified with him and felt quite angry about how I was treating him. How his struggle for recognition and respect, reflected their struggle in their walks of life. At the same time, a lot of people noticed how Ollie is much better at falling and miming the ‘fourth wall’ so I imagine a new piece of text:

Michael: You showed me up Ollie. With your energetic dancing. And your enthusiastic deaths. And you can fall better than me. And you can mime the fourth wall better than me. Because of your drama school. Because of your acting classes. And I brought you here to show you the ropes. But you showed me up didn’t you Ollie. And I never went to drama school. I never went to acting classes. And the only advice I ever got was to look at the Fire Exit signs.

Matt thought the motif of the fall was similar to the motif in The Post Show Party Show, a central death that returns. He liked the central story of a show about a show surrounded by more abstract material. He liked the balance between ‘show and tell’ – ‘this is the last stage I will stand on’ etc. – and more contemplative reflections on where we are and what we are doing. He thought Ollie fell beautifully. Rosie said because Ollie is so good, it really works that he takes over from me at the end. It is obvious that he isn’t being shown the ropes. But I am.

He knows what he is doing and it becomes increasingly apparent that I do not. She said that at the end, when he is left standing onstage and I am lying on the floor, the journey is complete. Some people were not satisfied with the end. It felt incomplete, or unresolved, or an anticlimax. But one person described it as ‘sufficiently underwhelming’ which is perhaps a fitting way to end a show about endings. And perhaps a good place to leave the process. We are standing here. Where one thing ends and another begins. The End will be continued in 2011.


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