The Best Laid Festivals…

BY Almeida Theatre   May 18, 2011

With our new Summer / Autumn 2011 season on sale, plans for the Festival are well and truly underway. For Jenny Worton, our Artistic Associate and Festival curator, there’s no turning back! Here she writes about the last week and her first tentative steps into the logistical implications of the Festival and exactly what she has committed herself to.

The Almeida festival begins in eight weeks. In my head, eight weeks is a long time: it’s four two week holidays, two star signs, and a full run of a play at the Almeida. It’s not very long. The truth is that it’s not very long because from this Friday I have to stop hiding behind meetings and agendas and budgets, and step out into the dazzling sunlight of the real world: come Friday, I may be a little sunburned.

Let’s leave aside for a moment that it’s Friday 13 and focus instead on the fact that Friday is the day after Thursday, which is the day of the press night for the Almeida’s production of A Delicate Balance. This is undoubtedly cause for celebration but as it also marks the moment when the production team will turn their full (and x-ray like) attention to the next major event on the Almeida calendar, it leaves me a little edgy.

Imagine the scene: Friday morning, post press night party, coffee in hand, our Head of Production sits down at his desk and opens the file marked Almeida Festival. It will come as no surprise to James (for that is his name) to recall that Greyscale’s Theatre Brothel contains not one but six nightly performances, only two of which take place in the auditorium. Nor will he be surprised that he’s being asked to ship five large boxes from Sweden, lay a dance floor and find six matching bicycles for the Belarus Free Theatre’s Eurepica Challenge. Admittedly, he might be a little surprised to read that Holly Waddington is creating a performance installation event in the foyer for that particular show, but he’s a robust sort of chap and he will not be phased. None of the events in the spin off Almeida Festival, curated by our Young Friends and spearheaded by John Donelly’s audacious Encourage the Others, are going to ruffle James’s feathers. No, indeed, he will be calm and relaxed.

What I’m worried about is that there is somehow, somewhere … a whopping great problem with the way I have scheduled the programme. I’m confident that months of conversations with the great minds of Greyscale, the Belarus Free Theatre and my Almeida colleagues would have shown up any imminent disasters. But the truth is there just isn’t anything that tests a well made plan so well as a well made Production Manager.

So, I’m considering lathering on the sunblock in preparation, or just hiding in the prop cupboard for a couple of days …

Alas! It’s started already, it’s not even Friday, it’s not even the 13 … James has just emailed to ask me what exactly is in the five boxes we’re transporting fromSweden for the Belarus Free Theatre. Should I know the answer to this question? Does anyone know the answer to this question? Presumably it isn’t bicycles … unless they’re the folding up kind …

by Jenny Worton

Read more and book tickets for the Almeida Festival here.