Associate Artistic Director Emma Bernard's blog

As I approach the end of my joyful two- year tenure as Associate Artistic Director I am very happy to report that we’ve just completed another important stage in the mammoth project that is “The Answer To Everything” and another big step for our performers.

Having raised the roof at the BFI in April with our world premiere of the show, we wanted to make sure it could have an extended life, so, for the first time, we have put together a small touring company, consisting of three of our workshop leaders: Rob Gildon, Simon Fidler and Tim Lole, and a pool of four performers, Dawn Stewart, Dave Patterson, Solli Bashiri and Bridgette Foley from The Streetwise Choir in Gateshead, and support worker Malcolm Craven.

For our intensive 6-day rehearsal and production period we were lucky enough to work at Summerhill Pavillion in Newcastle and open the show at Tyneside Cinema. The weather was kind enough to allow lunch breaks and even warm ups to happen out on the grass, and the team at Tyneside could not have been more helpful. It was hard work, but such fun!

We all approached the process with some trepidation, though, as it’s a pilot scheme, and a slightly new way of working for Streetwise. My aim as director was to make a self-sufficient company that could take on future touring dates without needing me to be there, and this made the stakes a little higher in terms of performers taking responsibility for the show.

However, nerves began to evaporate half way through our first morning and give way to laughter, and what took shape was a committed, energetic team ready to take on the world! Everyone, but especially our choir performers, worked their socks off and took brave steps forward, building their own skills and confidence, and the level of mutual support was both impressive and moving.

When we got into the cinemas to perform, a big boost for the touring cast was the presence in the audience of many members of our North East groups at Tyneside, and of our Nottingham group at Broadway Cinema the following week. When it came to joining in with The Ten Principles of Good Business, our performers certainly showed the rest of the audience how it was done!

 It was particularly great to have the support of Chris Pemberton, who took on the role of security guard in Newcastle, and Jim Stevenson, who stepped up as camera operator for the show in Nottingham, as its always great to see our performers taking on new challenges and succeeding. Thank you guys!

The audience response was very warm and appreciative, so lets hope this is just the beginning and that we get lots more opportunities to take this show, and future shows, on the road. My congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the whole team. Onwards and upwards, comrades!

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