After 3 ½ years, its my last day at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, and last night they threw me the most lovely party. If anyone wants to know how to make me happy it is very easy – gather as many of my contacts and friends together, preferably so that lots of people don’t know each other because they come from different worlds – like tourism, business leaders, editors & journalists, board members, staff, volunteers, past theatre employees, actors in the current show, and our twitterati with their children. Mix them all together with some red or white wine (or lager for me), and let them talk about everything and anything. It was lovely hearing people having intense conversations about everything under the sun.
And then the perfect party is topped off by a group of staff colleagues who know me so well that they can choose around 15 different personal gifts which each say something about me and my time in the theatre. There was a copy of the first full-house photo I commissioned on the night Jimmy Tarbuck played shortly after I arrived. There was a small cuddly toy version of Jemima Puddleduck to reflect my choice of Mrs Puddleduck to represent a possible every-woman/theatergoer. There was a WOW mug…add hot water and the front cloth of the theatre rises to reveal the theatre in all its splendour. And there was a book of photos and comments from staff and colleagues. There was even a full staff photo which they had tricked me into taking two weeks ago, claiming it was for an e-newsletter.
One of the joys of working in theatre is that you get to work with an enthusiastic, supportive, and creative family. I have worked with many different “families” over 30 years, and leaving is always sad. But the Theatre Royal is in the good hands of a fantastic staff and volunteer force. It has started what looks like a record-breaking run of panto. And I look forward to returning in February to see Lynn Whitehead’s new production of Romeo and Juliet. For now, this is my last piece of writing in my office. The boxes are packed. The last email is cleared, and the out-of-office notice is sorted. Thank you Colin Blumenau for booking me for this 3 1/2yr run, and good luck to Simon, our new Chairman Stephen, and all who seek to steer the theatre into 2013 as a presenting and producing theatre with an enviable heritage and a phenomenal community reach.