So after leaving The Witham after my first day yesterday, I was bouncing along the pavement, all bright eyed and happy and full of purpose. It was half four, the day had gone very well, I was still buzzing and there was still an evening to keep on working.
I got to Margaret and Angus’s lovely house and made my tea and did yesterday’s blog.
Aaaaand then I went on Facebook to tell people that I’d written it. And then I was on Facebook. By eight o’clock, I was annoyed, head fried and no work had been done. Suddenly everything I was doing with my entire life was stupid pretentious nonsense again.
So tonight I’ve come to the pub to write about the day, and I’ve not asked for the Wifi password.
I’m in the Old Well, which is a proper pub pub with floral red carpets and everything. It’s the pub where, some time ago, a group of friends who met to play Chirades formed The Castle Players – an drama group that makes shows in Barnard Castle.
I got to hang out with The Castle Players today (they’re fab) and join in their warm up, which was great because I get self-conscious doing warm ups on my own. They’re currently working with the RSC and will be playing the Mechanicals in Midsummer Night’s Dream in March. The BBC are following their progress and a cameraman was filming our warm up.
Again I was struck by the vibrant community engagement of The Witham Centre. It seems to have turned this town in an artistic hub. (I mean I don’t know what it was like before, but a lot certainly seems to happen at there now, and because of them.)
The day’s been productive for me too.
At 4 o’clock I shared back the work I’d been doing over the weekend. A few of the Players were there, as well as Angus and Margaret, my lovely hosts, Katy and Maddy from the Witham, and Tom who generously filmed the showing for me.
I was nervous – on the pendulum swing of this work is good vs. this is going nowhere, I’d reached a bit of a low going into it, but it went really well. I got some great feedback, positive, encouraging and constructive and feel like I’ve become a new part of the Witham Family –
and it does feel like a family. From getting a lift from the station, to being put up in a gorgeous home, to being invited to pop my head in to other peoples’ rehearsals, I’ve felt welcomed and involved.
I feel like the Witham is amazing for this in a way that other more central artistic centres just can’t be – it is established around the idea of supporting artists, building new audiences and making new links wherever they can, and they’re doing a bloody mint job of it. My show for one has been propelled to a new level thanks to their help.
Today’s been busy so I didn’t manage to make it along to The Bowes Museum to see their mechanical swan that swallows fish. Which is a shame. I’ll make sure to see it next time I’m back here, which I’m hoping will be very, very soon.