Sunday, March 31, 2013

'Great Expectations' closing


The only way I know to write is to live through everything.

Live through everything as though it happened to me.

Live through it all as intensely and as passionately and as fully as I can.

So in GREAT EXPECTATIONS I have been Pip, growing up a lost orphan at the edge of the lonely marshes. I have been Joe who loved and took pity on him and I have been Mrs. Joe who abused him too. I was Estella, so pretty and so proud, and Miss Havisham so profoundly rageful and despairing in her hurt. 

Like Magwitch I have cursed those who chained me and despised me and like Jaggers I have tried to do good in an evil world.

I lived through it as I wrote it and thenI lived through it in rehearsal, over and over again, and having imagined myself also being the actors I also lived with them in the fierce and intense struggle to make it work on stage.

And even though it all first happened twenty five years ago each moment is still vivid and as I watch the show I relive each one.

Which makes it so poignant to watch it for the very last time.

It's as if each moment bursts into brief and vivid life before fading into the darkness.

And then, once it was all over, once the cheers had died away, I stood  a moment on the empty stage.

Thank you beautiful set. Thank you being home to my imagination.

And bid it farewell.

I remember in the old Traverse how after the last night  the crew would attack the set with hammers. They would tear it all to pieces and chuck the fragments out the dock door on the first floor and they would come crashing down on the yard below. 

Such beautiful sets. Such sadness. As if each piece smashing on the flagstones was cracking my very bones.

Odd to be in among the Great Expectations audience with this unseen weight of memories.

And it seems absurd for the show to be closing early with the house so full and the audience so appreciative.

It is absurd, obviously: the result of the brutal stupidities of the market and the wasteful, stupid way that in this country we organise our theatre.

I go backstage to say goodbye. Goodbye to good and gifted people whose jobs really should not be coming to an end.

I sign programmes for the half crazed autograph hunters at the stage door.

I walk down the road, a bit sad, turning my back on my name outside a West End theatre. 

A bit sad, but proud also.

Thinking of my next play.

And knowing, somehow, that this story is not yet completely over.

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