Friday, 12 January 2007


The unimaginative title of this entry refers to the myriad pieces that we are all juggling to fit into the puzzle that is this most important of all seasons. Although I should add, there is an expression in London -"Doing my pieces" - which essentially means being driven mad. I'll make no further comment on that.

Building a new theatre has, up to this point, felt very much like a purely functional exercise. One just dives in and deals with all the practical issues, architects, engineers, designers, seating companies and the like. There is a domino effect in that one problem solved opens the door to another and so on. Raising the lighting rig means you have to reassess the stage height; giving more legroom means finding more foyer space, putting a staircase here means moving a bar there etc. I have started to feel like one of those variety plate spinning acts. And then there are contractors who don't deliver as promised, or those who tell you about new costs that weren't there before. But recently, as we drill down into the detail of things, some of the tasks have taken on a more creative aspect. There have been surreal moments, like the recent meeting with the seating manufacturer. Our office is pretty crowded and there is very little meeting space so we often decamp to the coffee shop opposite where we can get (as on this occasion) 10 people around a table with large plans and drawings (and have good coffee at the same time). The company brought with them a sample seat on a frame and there were a few odd looks as we debated the thickness of padding and upholstery, the shape of the moulding for the buttocks, lower back support and the height of the backrest. We chose midnight blue upholstery by the way. Despite the incongruity of this meeting and venue, it was refreshing and rewarding to at least get to think about nice aspects of the build. After all of the recent talk of soil sampling (we sit on London Clay in case you are interested) kilonewtons and hexial screws, a bit of interior design offered light relief. Next week: carpet colours.

James and Kate are really under the cosh at the minute. Chorus casting for six operas is quite a feat. James likes to use boards on the wall (he's no Luddite, he loves his Blackberry). Pencilled in cast members are ritually inked in with black pen once signed and it's a lovely visual representation of how the productions are coming together. Right now, the wall is fast filling with black pen as he and Kate recruit what seems like hundreds of singers. They need a break.

So would Clarinda, my assistant, if she hadn't just come back from two weeks in the Far East. So many tasks have passed to her whilst I find myself so embroiled in the theare project. But she sails through them with ease. I often need something to moan about and she provides little grist for my mill but I really shouldn't complain. Editing a magazine comes as easily to her as filling the website, doing Equality Impact Assessments are brushed off as nonchalantly as audience geographical analysis. I'll find a weakness though, I will. Since she doesn't make coffee, I am proposing she does it more often. Even the cleverest people can make shit coffee. And there is nothing like moaning about bad coffee. What with Clarinda, Kate, Claire & Kiki (Friends' administrators) and Lucy, our new events manager, we have a terribly well educated and well spoken office. Since James and I are neither, I think we should be commended for not having chips on our shoulders and offering them all an opportunity. Anyway, I doubt any of them would be happy in proper jobs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's very exciting how comfortable everything will be if you make the right choices. I can't wait for the Friends brochure and physically obtaining the tickets.