There is a theory in 14/48 which speculates the second night will always be bigger than the first. The writers and director’s have seen what’s capable. The design team and tech teams have found their groove. The band are slicker.
The final night of this festival offered more proof this was true.
The comedy got bigger. There was plenty of scope for actors to get onstage and chew the scenery to their heart’s content. Conversely the darkness got darker.
And the love…
There is a lot of hyperbole about things like 14/48. In the depths of tiredness, group delusion and creative energy things appear better than they are. As this night lurched from huge laughs to crushing seriousness there was talk of how it would end.
“The play has over 50 lighting cues.” I overheard someone say.
I’d joked with actors all weekend. “You’ve got one job. Learn you’re fucking lines.”
“We don’t really have lines,” Hannah Smith said to me.
The night rolled on. It was glorious. Then we reached the last play. Alison Dunne’s “Popcorn”. Directed by Lucy Ovenall.
It was a triumph. Yes, it probably did have a lighting cue every 20 seconds. But for the craziness of the lighting the tempo was low. Tales were told with tiny looks. It drew you in. It felt like there was nothing but the performers and you in a darkened room. I was sitting as far away from the stage as possible but it felt like I was next to them.
It didn’t go for a big laugh, a party atmosphere or a crushing low. It simply told a series of stories which came together to form a simple message.
If there is no happy ending, keep going.
And one tale stood out. Two people separated just needed to communicate. They got so close and failed. Then, for pay off, they do it.
I was physically stunned at what I’d seen. The phrase is “go big or go home.” This was a way of going big which I hadn’t even considered possible. I remember standing at the back, on my feet, clapping and cheering for all I’m worth. Yes, I was supposed to join everyone on stage but I had to show my appreciation.
Sometimes, there is no hyperbole. Sometimes what you’ve seen is just amazing.
It was amazing.
The second performances lifted everything again except for the Popcorn which hit all the same beats. Delivered the same emotion.
Then the audience were cleared. The company came together and hit the keg. Awards were given out. Not even Rob Thorpe realised how sexy he was. Jess Green and Dave Morris should realise how much they both bring to the festival in their disciplines. If they don’t, they have gordy tat to remind them.
And yes, The Paul Rogers is the worthy winner of the Christer Award. A man of many talents and disciplines who brings passion, energy and humour to the festival.
I had my own message for the company. Thank you for your show of gratitude at the end. I am uncomfortable with such things but it is appreciated.
Then slowly, people dwindle away. The numbers drop until finally, around 3am I leave. Salt fills my eyes. Every festival ends like this. Leaving on the last night means it ends. So you don’t want it to end. I’m so happy to have been part of it but upset it is over.
But as someone much smarter than I said, If there is no happy ending, keep going.
What this festival has produced is a happy ending. We all deserve to feel proud of what we’ve achieved. We need to do it again.
Hang on… we are… in Wolverhampton in June.
See you there.
7th May 2017. 11:07