Don’t jinx it. Don’t tempt fate. Don’t upset the 14/48 gods.
You’ve written a beautiful drama piece set in one room, you’ve written an over the top sci-fi opera, you want to direct a funny slapstick, you want to act in a physical theatre piece, you want to design a Jacobean horror, you want to play the music to Home and Away…
…whatever it is, don’t tell anyone. Everyone wants to enjoy 14/48 and everyone wants to do the best they can in the best play that everyone else can offer. The temptation – especially after day one when you’ve seen what the creative team can offer – is to say “I really want that /writer/director/prop/song and it would be terrible if I got play number 1/a musical/ a large cast.”
BUT DON’T. The 14/48 gods will be waiting and like the Colonel (in joke, sorry) they will be looking down and passing judgement. And they will frown on you. IN CAPTIAL LETTERS.
As I write this (desperately wanting tea but having to make do with flat Fanta, the worst kind of Fanta) seven writers are battling with doubt monkeys about their plays. Their theme? “Good fences make for good neighbours”. Maybe they’ve seen something today that has inspired them or maybe their play today worked/failed for what they intended and it’s now sitting on their shoulder whispering flirty advice.
But today is gone. For better or for worse you shake it off and everyone starts afresh at 9am tomorrow when seven directors will plunge in like Peter Duncan in Flash Gordon, fearing the worst but hoping for the best.
The first night zipped by with a typically eclectic mix but with recurring themes of gay couples, songs, and sex. Seeing dancing sperm chasing an egg whilst a slightly crazed medical professional sings about insemination is a difficult image to dislodge but a quiet drama featuring a chaste love story in the early 20th century, a child version of The Doctor, and a fatal rivalry in an old people’s home all vied for your attention.
So really, you can’t afford to miss the second night. The 14/48 gods will be working their magic and the big dogs get on the porch and bark loud. Join us, you won’t regret it.
I’ve never been to a school re-union but I tend to imagine the following:
1) Intense jealousy at that smug tit from Geography who has the mega job and family
2) Laughing at a teacher then finding they’ve died.
3) A really bad buffet
4) it not being as much fun as a 14/48 reunion.
Anyone that has ever met or endured my company will know I’m not prone to sunny whimsy or sentimental “awwwing” so you can take it as a genuine moment when I report that the start of 14/48 genuinely brings great joy.
Countless times last night as the whole creative team gathered at The Y you could hear people saying “it’s like coming home”, “OH MY GOD IT’S YOU!” and “It’s like getting back to family” as well as “when’s the keg being tapped?”
The theme was drawn – TIME TO HARVEST – and the 7 writers set to work writing 7 plays and this morning at 9am 7 directors did a lucky drip to get their script and then went to theatre for 10am to drawn out their cast. Some people have already taken advantage of the joy of the keg to give them a kick start to their process. The atmosphere is a mixture of excitement, tension, apprehension and energy. The virgins are quickly introduced and directors are a bees collecting the pollen of ideas and heading to their hive (rehearsal space) to make sweet honey plays.
There’s a buzz not just of friendship and camaraderie but a creative one as people take their scripts, suitcases, and ideas, knowing that for the next 48 odd hours they will be cracking on with doing what they love for no other reason than they love it. And there’s very little that can beat that feeling. Apart from a Virgin bringing you a fresh beer perhaps.
As music that sounds suspiciously like it’s scoring a porn movie drifts by me and my cup of tea and filmmakers scurry about as cast members learn lines and directors eat sausage sandwiches and check their ideas and designers race about I am very aware that I am…doing nothing.
Absolutely nothing. As organised chaos ebbs and flows all around me and people are working and thinking and drawing energy from the theatre gods I am doing nothing more strenuous other than debate whether to have a hob nob or a chocolate digestive.
This time last year I was a director and sticking rigorously to my plan and having a rare old time with my cast (including a chicken and a pig) and liaising with the band and the design team.
This is giving me time to have relaxed chats with three of the directors – right now actually. Let me just ask them a question quickly, describe their play in one word:
Becci Hooper says her play is “Horny”
Paul Rogers says “deception”
Richard struggled for his one word. He had a paragraph. And then he changed his mind and then went for “shedding”.
And how confident are they feeling?
Richard is feeling “depressingly mediocre”
Paul is “distinctly anxious”
And Becci? “Horny”.
There you go. And me? It’s hard not to second guess and start worrying about what you’ve written. It’s done. So why am I hanging around? It’s the draw of the festival, you want to be part of the atmosphere and general bon homie. I descend into a hyper loon during this festival and it’s due to the approach of throwing yourself into just creating and making for the joy of making and creating.
Something special happens during this festival and I make no apologies for being uncharacteristically WOO HOO! It is an American born festival and that seems to seep through and give it that energy and spirit. Come and see for yourself – go big or go home.