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Our National Theatre Adventure: pt2

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

The Boy Preference was ready to go.

Unusually for us we had a powerful tech team to - Jack Wills on lighting, Cristabel Gordon stage managing and Alex Eales live mixing his own music. It looked and sounded fantastic.

Annette and I had driven up to Lincolnshire to find some dead sunflowers which adorned the set and the flats and gauzes were painted with sunflowers too, heavily influenced by Anselm Kiefer

Our home shows went extremely well and our National Theatre assessor Paul Hart seemed very happy. But you just can't tell...

Here is the item I wrote at the time:-

In my last messageI referred to a potentially very positive development during our partner theatre day at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton about which I didn’t want to say any more at the time.

After our Northampton show, our assessor Paul came to say hi with another person – Dan. Now I hadn’t got a clue who Dan was but I had the sort of feeling he might be important to us. This was confirmed when our host Erica mentioned a VIP in the audience and wished us luck. Dan had seemed very positive about our show although I confess in the immediate afterglow of the stunning performance (it genuinely thrilled and surprised me) my mind was really elsewhere. But on reflection I had the glimmer of a spark of a glow of hope that we might have put ourselves into contention for an invitation to the National.

And so it happened – on Tuesday this week my mobile rang with an unfamiliar number – it was Rob from the National Theatre Connections team. He asked how we’d found the partner theatre day and I told him how much we’d enjoyed it. He then asked if our show had gone OK – and would we like to perform it again?

It only took a couple of seconds for the dots to join and I kind of turned to mush. We are going to the National! I don’t really remember anything else about the call except hearing the plea for me to keep this to myself for a few days until the schedule was fully confirmed and the other participants in the Connections programme could be briefed.

Of course I told my wife, Annette, immediately (and my sons, dad and siblings) but after that there was a kind of anti-climax – we couldn’t tell the world!

So between then and our release of the news we’ve been getting things ready – press releases, rehearsal plans, letters to schools etc. etc. so in a way the embargo was a blessing in disguise.

But I hated not being able to tell our wonderful cast. I knew there was no way I could get them all together to hear the news due to exams, D of E expeditions and so on, most of them did mangae to make it – here’s what happened…

They have been such a fabulous group throughout and you could not wish to meet a nicer group of young people.

Between now and the first week in July there will be lots to do to get ready for the transfer and the various stages will appear on this blog. But for the time being I am absolutely elated /proud /excited / nervous / bewildered. And I think back to an early rehearsal back in November when I sat down with the cast and I said to them then that I thought we had the concept of something very special and that if we worked hard as a team we could do something extraordinary. They did work hard, always as a team, and they have indeed been rewarded with something extraordinary.

So now it’s official and I can say it:-

Emily W, Luke F, Alex, Harriet, Alice, Megan, Christabel, Maddie, Emily B., Dominic, Niles Luke D, Harry, Sophie, Lucy, Gina, Betty, Nancy, Ruby, Sienna, Louis, Jack, Tegan and Lisa – our Best bunch of stars - you are going to the National Theatre!

In the last part of this story, I'll describe what actually happened at the National Theatre...

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