Chief of the Guardian Angel contingent is my mother. After sympathising with my 'woe is me, all my money is gone and I'm a failure as an artistic being' schtick for about three minutes she ordered me out of my bathroom/bedroom, fed me nutritious food and then sat me down and made it patently clear that she and my father had not supported me through four years of a university drama course, a year studying Acting and Playwriting abroad and numerous summer and saturday school terms at Sylvia Young Theatre School in order to be presented with the snivelling wreck she saw before her who, while exhibiting great acting skills and dramatic flair, was doing so nowhere near a stage of any description. In more maternal fashion she buoyed my confidence with anecdotes of past successes and then, in managerial mode, she quizzed me on my current projects and pinpointed a possible replacement for my Edinburgh Fringe show. She suggested a play called Rachael's Cafe.
I was, though secretly excited, initially hesitant. I'd already put a lot of money and effort into my first attempt at the Fringe and, only a week after pulling my show, I was still smarting. Secondly, the project she suggested was one I'd been dragging my feet on for a long time. It is, I believe, a fantastic piece of storytelling based closely on the true tale of a man called Eric Wininger whom I met when studying at Indiana University, USA. I'd been flying back and forth, doing interviews, transcribing and writing the play for almost two years by this point. But my holding back was simply a case of not feeling ready to do it justice. It was different to anything I'd ever done before because a) it was a self-penned play (never actually finished a full one before), b) I'd be looking at directing it rather than being in it (something I've only done a few times before for various university/am-dram companies and only once professionally) and c) it's a one man show (which is a form of theatre I have always loved and been in awe of, and hence feel an enormous pressure to make my first attempt live up to previous experiences as an audience member). Ultimately, clearly, the urge to create overpowered my fear, and that was the cue for the remainder of my Guardian Angels to arrive on the scene.
You're really going to have to try not to cringe here and please, don't write me off as some overprivileged little so-and-so. Yes, my production team this Edinburgh is comprised of my Mother (Production Manager and Co-Producer) and my Grandmother (Publicity) (Oh! And CJ (Tech), no relation). In some families this could prove a disaster and, believe me, in some production meetings it is! But it's also rather lovely. There are family businesses the world over and I've grown up with parents who, as freelancers, have run every single one of their businesses jointly. Providing the people involved have the necessary talents and skills, the advantages of such a set-up lie in your familiarity with one another and your -almost- unconditional love. My mother has worked as a Stage Manager and a Production Manager in the past. She's deliciously bossy and admirably organised and clearheaded. My grandmother -an ex-singer- was married to a West End Theatre Investor and now works as a Publicity Assistant for the New End Theatre and the Tower Theatre Company. She's bolshy, charming and doesn't take no for an answer. They both know exactly what they're doing and, regardless of my involvement, are fans of the play and its subject matter. My father, not a particularly theatery person, was given the choice of whether to get involved or not. Having met the person the play is written about he was eager to see it hit the stage and decided to use his internet skills in designing our website, and networking skills to help us fundraise for the production.
I'm not naive. It's a pretty humbling experience to have a family that want to see you succeed so badly that they'll help in any way they can. I know my friends with super rich parents receive giant cash injections for their creative experiments, but it's a hundred times more wonderful to actually have them ready and eager to muck in.
I figured it was only polite to ask my sister if she wished to join the rest of us in Scotland. She gazed at me with a serious expression. 'I hate theatre', she said. 'Well yes, I know that,' I replied 'I just didn't want you to feel left out'. 'I'm fine,' she assured me. Two days later I saw my fundraising link go up on her Facebook page. A week later I saw her booking for train tickets to Edinburgh in August. I hope she knows she's my flyer girl.
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