Another Monday, another trip in a van for Geddes Loom, this time on our way to sunny Bradford.
(Perhaps it is sunny in Bradford? Just because in Manchester is the sky is looming like an enormous wet dog it doesn’t mean that in Bradford it isn’t twenty five glorious degrees and everyone is about to have their morning cocktail. We drive in hope.)
By Saturday evening we had all got used to living in Stockton. Our lives were pretty simple in their routine. We got up, took turns in the shower cubicle the size of a tube of Smarties (a normal one, not a novelty one from duty free), walked to the Arc, had coffees and small caramelized biscuits and got to work. At times we played Foursquare, an extremely exciting game that, even in spite of the necessity of a ball, can be played by the sporty and sports-unfortunate alike (we largely fall in the latter camp). We wrote things, rehearsed things, and played things, every so often Dan swore at some bit of technology. It was nice. In the evenings we would go to one of our restaurants to stuff ourselves full of some delicious Stockton treats, then we would retire to our guesthouse. Ben would usually spend the night sending malevolent thoughts to the man in the adjoining room whose enthusiastic snoring made the water in Ben’s cup ripple ominously and the walls tremble. It was all marvellous.
Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple. As we said in our previous post: this has been a tough show to make. Sometimes it has felt almost impossible to navigate through the weird, twisted maze of What We Actually Want To Say. Even now everything is set and scripted and worked out we still keep having those twisting moments of panic. Perhaps it is inevitable in any process to hit those moments. Leo, the director, quoted someone the other day as saying that you should always feel like you’re walking the line of possible embarrassment when making art. You are meant to feel like you’re taking a risk. That said, sometimes it feels too scary and you’re a chocolate biscuit away from suggesting jacking it all in and just doing Calendar Girls.
Not simple, then. But being in Stockton was the easy bit. We were made to feel so welcome and supported that by the end it felt weird that we weren’t just coming back next week. We did a small gig in the foyer which ended up with mostly me singing a Britney cover to/at Dave on box office, until we both got too embarrassed and I forgot the words. There were some lads there from the break dance group, who gamely did some dancing to our songs and made us feel excellently down with all the kids, and clapped enthusiastically at the end. They even made a valiant stab at not looking too horrified when we said we were doing a show about maths (it is a hard sell sometimes) (“It’s about maths, but not just maths! And there’s beatboxing in it!”).
Then we loaded up on fish and chips at Barnacles (“Stockton is trying to make us fat” said Ben, ruefully, through the mushy peas that were quietly but determinedly congealing in his beard) before heading back to The Storytellers for the open mic. This time we knew people and felt like this was what we’d done every Thursday since we’d all been at school together. We played some songs, I got a bit excited and made a terrible joke before telling Leo off when his eyes drifted to the TV screen (“Stop watching the football! I’m doing a SONG.”*), we chatted with some students who promised to come to the show. It was all lovely. We were just about to leave when Josh (who runs the open mic) got up and started doing an excellent cover of No Diggity. Someone suggested Ben get up and beatbox to it, which he did with undignified enthusiasm. It was a wonderful combination.
*I’m a bit sensitive about people watching the telly while people are performing. It’s nobody’s fault, our eyes can’t help being drawn to the pretty moving colour box. It’s just that once we did a gig next to a massive screen that was showing X Factor and it made me want to weep and scream and die (in that order).
On the way back to Manchester on Saturday night we dropped all our kit in Bradford at the Theatre in the Mill with the help of a quietly disgruntled security guard. Now we are trundling back through the wind and the rain, ready to start our two weeks there. Today Florence, our set designer, is arriving with the set, so it all starts looking a bit ready and real. We have a lot of work to do, but a lot of it has been done, and we are really excited to see how it will continue to take shape this week. We’re looking forward to working at the Mill (can we call it that? Not sure we are on nickname terms yet) and meeting everyone there. The Lowry and Arc have been delightful, and we’re sure that these next weeks are going to be just as interesting and inspiring.
Prelude to a Number may contain the following:
Music; comedy; maths; sadness; questions; confusion; joy; honesty; rabbits.
Prelude to a Number – Routes North commission by Geddes Loom