All done!

On Thursday morning I felt ready for the day ahead and the show that night. We’d had a good dress and tech rehearsal the day before, the show was looking really good – we were ready! And then as the day went on, the nerves started kicking in. A lot of people I knew were coming to see the show that night and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I was suddenly afraid that it wasn’t funny and I should have put in lots more jokes. By the time I had to leave for the theatre, I wanted to run away and hide.

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When I got into Smock Alley, it was buzzing. It really felt like something exciting was happening and that distracted me from my nerves. We ran lines in the Banquet Hall, where there was one, maybe two other company doing the same. There were small groups warming up or having a quick bite to eat before their show. When we headed backstage to get set up, that was also a hive of -very quiet- activity. With four shows in each space, there were people everywhere! We ended up in a corridor while we waited for the cast of the previous show to finish up. We had a chance to run it onstage one last time (the advantage of having a very short show!) and then suddenly it was time to let the audience in!

I was very nervous as I sat in the dark and waited for the show to start. Then it started and my cast were wonderful and the audience laughed when they were supposed to laugh, which was a major relief. Not only did they laugh, but they listened and it felt like they were getting it. It was great. I had a pen and notebook in my lap but took zero notes. There was no need! I was on a bit high after that and in bar afterwards, I felt giddy and happy as I tried to talk to six people at once. People said lots of lovely things and I felt content and proud. Friday also went well – I was a little less nervous, though we also got less laughs. Mostly I was pleased and grateful to all the friends who came over the two nights. It was really kind of them and made me feel very supported. I was also so grateful to my cast who did such a lovely job with the script. They really couldn’t have been better.

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And now it’s all over but I’m glad that I did it. I was a fantastic experience, even the scary bits. Even the stomach-churningly terrifying bits when I wondered what the hell had I gotten myself into. Taking a play from page to stage has been enormously encouraging for my writing. Now I know that I can write something that makes people laugh! That makes people think! That makes them discuss it in the bar afterwards! I also learned a lot about editing. Listening to your own words over and over again makes you want to cut them down to the bare essentials. Everything has to be justified and the rehearsal process really puts that to test. I am hoping I’ll be able to write more sparingly in the future.

Mostly it was a joyful process of taking something that was just an idea inside my head and making it into a piece of theatre that I could share with other people. That was exhilarating. I want to do it again now!

AllDone

V-Day Retrospective

I was surprised how nervous I felt on the day of the show. I was expecting to feel excited that the day was finally here, but ready for it; maybe not tranquil but reasonably calm. Instead I felt on edge all day, my to do list constantly hoovering at the edge of consciousness and constantly worried that I’d forgotten something. It was a stressed out restlessness that made it hard to get things done.

I arrived at The Sugar Club half an hour later than I intended to after standing at a bus stop for 15 minutes feeling sick with nerves. There was so much to do and so little time and instead of running around getting things done, I had to stand still and wait for a bus!

Once I got there and the cast started arriving and we started getting things done, I relaxed a bit. That was our first day in The Sugar Club, the first time the cast had a chance to get up on stage. There were lots of last minute decisions to be made so people didn’t walk into each other and knew when to sit and stand and speak. It was the first time we got to use the mikes. There was a lot to get through.

Almost as soon as I started to feel calm, it was time to clear out of the space in anticipation of our audience! Suddenly it all felt very real! I spent 40 minutes getting people in, greeting people I knew, checking up on the cast, how many tickets were left, etc. Technically, the show was sold out but most of the tickets were waiting at the door to be collected and paid for. We had a great crowd but we probably could have squeezed a few more in.

Finally, finally, finally the show began and there really was nothing else I could do. I’d done a little bit of directing at university but this was the first time I’d sat with a paying audience, watching a show that I had put together. I was so proud of the cast and the audience really seemed to enjoy themselves, and I enjoyed the show along with them. It was wonderful. I was beaming with happiness from the first word to the last.

It was a great night, everybody I talked to enjoyed it immensely. The cast were all a bit disappointed that we had one night. We probably could have filled The Sugar Club for a second night, at least. It was a great venue and they looked after us very well.

Thanks to our fantastically generous audience we raised $280 for the V-Day project in Haiti and €1732 for Ruhama, on our one night. Thanks also to the hard work of the cast and everyone else involved on the production it was a very successful Dublin V-Day.

The Vagina Monologues

Last month, I had the immense pleasure of being involved with V-Day for the second time. The first was when I was still studying at Brunel University when I organised a production of The Vagina Monologues with a couple of friends. It was incredibly hard work, especially since I was in third year and trying to do my dissertation at the same time, but we had such a wonderful response from the people who saw it and we raised money for two local women’s charities and it was a wonderful experience.

V-Day is a global movement that works to stop violence against women, by raising awareness and funds. It was set up by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues and each year, the rights of the play are offered free to college and community theatre groups. Each group can do three nights of the show and all money raised goes to charities that help stop violence against women.

I was thinking about putting on my own Dublin production when I saw the audition notice on Crooked House last November. I was delighted when I got a part in the show. We had our first read-through last December and it was great to hear the monologues again, but so odd to hear them read by different actresses.

I love The Vagina Monologue script. Each monologues are powerful and beautifully written but as well as that, the whole show hangs together so well. When I’m sitting on stage, the whole show seems to fly by because each monologue leads fluidly into the next and before you know it, we in the last ten minutes of the show. There’s a wonderful balance of comedy and tragedy in the script.

This year’s production was not without mishap and complication. The show’s organisers had a lot of trouble finding a venue. It was supposed to happen in Ranalagh but there wasn’t any suitable venue available there, the next place that came up were looking for too much money, which we just didn’t have. Then we found somewhere perfect for the nights we needed, but they lost their theatre license and closed down a week before the show was due to open. And finally we found the Exchange in Temple Bar. They asked for a deposit and 10% of the ticket sales, and in return we got a lovely intimate space with a stage just big enough for 14 women to squeeze onto.

We filled the space on all three nights we were there, with male and female audience members (though mainly female!) and they all enjoyed the show very much. At least they seemed to be enjoying it from where I was sitting!

As well as putting on a great show, we also raised almost €1,500 for charity. Ten percent went to the V-Day spotlight charity which this year was the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rest of the money raised went to Ruhama, a Dublin charity that supports women working in the sex industry. They are a very hands on charity.

The City of Joy is a place of refuge for the women and girls of the DCR who have been abused physically and sexually as part of the war in that part of the world. It is a horrendous conflict that has been going on for far too long. If you would like to find out more, there are lots of details on the V-Day website and here is an article from the Guardian by Eve Ensler.

All in all, it was once again a wonderful experience and I definitely plan on begin involved in some sort of V-Day event again next year.