Amie, Hannah, Holly, Yoshi, Lucy, Sarah. A new company for us. Not a beard in sight.
Six flipping brilliant makers that joined us up here in North Yorkshire to have some dinner, read a play, have a sing, and have a good old chinwag on Tuesday night and Wednesday daytime.
As I said in a blog a while ago - we wanted to cast an all female Shakespeare because we're in a position help redress the gender imbalance on our stages. That was why. Like many arts organisations, we are historically guilty of working with too many men. We'll stop doing that. So many brilliant people got in touch to express their interest. We could have made this show hundreds of times over and, I hope in time, we can.
Yesterday it became more than that though. It wasn't just about redressing a gender imbalance. It kind of superseded that and entirely undercut that. Because now we get to make a show - we get to wrestle with it, imagine it, get it wrong, find it hard, and make it better.
Romeo & Juliet is a big play. It's bigger than we think when we casually think of Romeo & Juliet. A hell of a lot happens. And when we sit down and ask 'Okay, to put this play on now, in 2015 - what is it about?' the answers are endless. It's about rebellion, it's about a divided community, it's about social fear, it's about passion and recklessness, it's about getting in to fights when you're drunk, it's about accepting people for who they are, it's about realising what's important in life before you lose it. All of which matters, urgently, here and now in our communities, today.
And what's it about when you do it with a cast of six women? All the above.
Here's another thing. When we made Sherlock in August last year we had this conversation on The Guardian about placements. We said that we would try to do everything we can on each new project to offer a paid placement. And we will do that. We are waiting to hear back on some funding from the Arts Council. If we get this, we have budgeted for a paid placement. But we don't really want to rely on that - we'd like to be able to offer it out. I don't know how yet. But we're working on it.
But soon we'll put up a call for people's thoughts and hopefully ways we can invite people to be involved.
Romeo & Juliet is a big show, in the way I mean above. For us, it's also a big show in terms of scale. Six performers, creative team, crew. It adds up to about £55,000 for the first stage of the productions. Of course, we do careful maths and have applied to the Arts Council for about £14,000 of that. But, if you'd like to support the show then we'd like to let you. If you'd like us offer a paid placement, and you think you can help, then please do.
If you want to support the show, it's easy. Come see it. We want to make sustainable work that is interesting, inventive, relevant and offers new stuff for people along the way. And the best way we can do that is with a whole bunch of audience, community and friends at our sides. So Romeo & Juliet doesn't come with a crowdsourcing campaign, any fundraising stunts or donations boxes. It just comes with a box office link.
We use the money from ticket sales to cash flow the show - to pay people. We spend very little on set / tech / stuff - it pretty much all goes on people. So rather than have a hoo ha or a ding dong about money, we'd just like you to buy a ticket! We'll even do a show for you in return.
If you'd like to see it in York, head here. If you'd like to see it in London, then tickets will be available here soon.
If you'd like to have a look at a little trailer, the that is here.
But, whether you can come watch or not, we're excited to be here. To be in an International Shakespeare Festival, to be making our first Shakespeare, to be performing in a new venue, to be rehearsing in our lovely little village, to have six brilliant women making the show with us on stage and three brilliant women and one brilliant man (not including Brian and I) making it with us off stage. And to be telling a story which, when you sit and really look at, is about a heartbreakingly dysfunctional, overly proud and narrow minded society that doles itself out in wars and punishments - a society which doesn't look after the dreams, aspirations and passions of its younger members. That feels important.
All the best to the best of you all.
*There won't be a pool table in the show. Or graffiti. We're performing it in a church, which is beautiful. But you can come for a game of pool after.