So. The curtains came up on Bump last night.
What was meant to be my first full length staged reading, an achievement I was pretty pleased with, turned into my first full length play put on anywhere, ever, due to the cast pushing themselves and getting off script, possibly with a few firm shoves from the director.
7th May 2013. Took me long enough.
I have never not been nervous on seeing a performance of anything I’ve written. I don’t think I’ll ever be calm. I am consistently amazed that people would pay money to see my extended mind farts. Friends and family make sense…but complete randomers? There was one I met on the door last night, an old fella trying to get his ticket. I didn’t recognise him, so had assumed he was one of the actor’s uncles or what not. Turns out he had literally just seen a few posters about, thought it sounded good and decided he’d come catch the show. Of everyone’s thoughts about the show, his was the one I wanted to hear afterwards.
First night is typically cursed to be terrible, and though I knew that Tim, Gopal and Tanith had put together a heck of a show, I still couldn’t shake the feeling something was going to go wrong. I’d be fine with that if it wasn’t for the fact that the BBC Writersroom representative was coming along. The many familiar faces took the edge off; sister, couple of her friends (Kev + Chris), CSSD Acting Alumni and finally Katherine et Ally, who read an early draft of Bump and helped me get it to the shape it’s in. Shamefully I realised I’d not fully implemented all of Katherine’s suggestions, though they remain very good suggestions that will improve the play no end. Will slip those into the next draft. The Jack hand out feedback forms to everyone so I’ll be looking to use the filled out ones of those to shape the piece too.
The doors opened bang on 8, and the people shuffled in. The lights went down. I don’t wish to describe the performance in detail except to say that the audience laughed in all the right places, and the actors mesmerised me. I completely forgot that I wrote the show, and got sucked in. Lights came up. People clapped. A lot. Double bow for Tim and Gopal.
I was very, very pleased.
Everyone seemed to like it, but most importantly of all, Mike loved it. His feedback form was in fact just a letter to me saying how much he enjoyed himself (more on this later). Turns out he was a man with a varied life, and many a tale. He dodged national service by going to uni to study English, even though he didn’t care too much about it. Basically he didn’t want to go to Kenya and fight Mau Mau. Naturally, I told him of the feature script I was writing set in 50s Kenya – wish I had time to pick his brain about how he felt back then. He offered me a pint, but I turned it down. If I was going to break my marathon drinking rules, I’d do it myself. And I did it with gusto. I was so bloody relieved!
As such, with regard to the rest of the evening, I am not a reliable chronicler. I can’t remember most of what I said, but I imagine it was very much like a tosspot-king holding court. If you think miserable writers are bad, happy ones are worse. Both versions have opinions, just one is much more mouthy about it. Save it for the plays, Patel.
Got the 172 bus back with Nick, one of the Central actors who’d come to see the play, and shot the scripty breeze. In an unfortunate final twist (unfortunate for my housemates), I had forgotten my house keys and had to ring the bell exactly at the stroke of midnight. Apologies, two waffles and a tooth brushing later, I flopped into bed with what I’m sure was a smile on my face.
I woke up late this morning with a slight hangover and I feel absolutely fine about that.