Yesterday marked the world premiere of Em. Hannah spoke to the cast, just after the dress rehearsal, and told them all to enjoy the experience of telling a story for the first time because there would be so few moments in their lives where they'd get that particular opportunity. In the case of Em there haven't even been any workshops, so yesterday night was the first opportunity anyone got to see how an audience would react to the show. Which lines would land? Would people laugh? Cry? Look bored?
Young Josh became my personal first pair of ears and eyes after coming to the dress rehearsal. We met beforehand and sat, drinking tea, outside the venue. "I can't believe how laid back you are" he said. Josh remembers the mayhem surrounding the first production of Brass up in Leeds. I've never known a more stressful couple of days!
By comparison, Em has been a breeze. The creative team has been brilliant to work with but I guess I've also slightly changed the way I deal with these things and am far more of a mind where I think it will be what it is and all I can do is do my best (without actually losing my mind!)
The show went incredibly well. There were some wonderfully friendly faces in the audience. Little Welsh Nathalie, friends from student drama (some of whom had done the reading a few weeks ago), Adam Jay from New York, Jeremy Walker, Ben Mabberley, my agent...
They all made the right noises, as did the audience in general. I tend to run away a bit during an interval as it's actually a little disconcerting to hear audience members discussing your piece without knowing that you're actually the writer. The cast were buzzing at the end of the show. I think they've suddenly realised they have a show which is worth doing well. A show that people love.
The day was, of course, marred by the terrible fire in the housing block in West London, which is probably only a couple of miles from Central School. An acrid smell drifted across the district at one point which I'm pretty sure was attached to the incident. Friends closer to the area say the smell was unbearable.
I watched the news for the first time this morning and was utterly devastated by the stories. I can't imagine how terrified people must have been on the upper floors, literally waiting to die. The stories of people throwing their babies out of windows are utterly soul-destroying. I can't actually bear it. I was intrigued to see pictures of visits to the area by May and Corbyn. May looked aloof and uncomfortable as she talked to emergency services. Jeremy Corbyn was hugging people. He seems so much more natural. He feels like one of us whilst she seems like a ghastly robot. Totally out of touch.
I feel a change within this country. People are rallying around one another. Terrorist attacks are unifying people: making people care more about one another and watch out for each other. I think the days are numbered where the rich get richer and the little people get shat on. People are rallying. A man on the telly today was highly critical of the (highly-wealthy) Kensington council: "they can find 200 extra people for a pointless recount to try to keep a Tory MP in power, but they can't find 200 people to co-ordinate the distribution of the perishable goods which people are dropping off at the help centres."
Hannah pointed out yesterday that we're probably all going to remember the rehearsal period of Em as a period of great unrest. Since rehearsals started we've had two major terrorist attacks, a snap general election and a this dreadful fire. The UK has been almost continually in world news.