Jocelyn Bundy - Stage Manager for The Answer to Everything

Freelancing is a weird life; we go from job to job where some are amazing, some we just count the days until they are over! One if the things I very rarely consider is how lucky I am to be surrounded by music and musicians every waking moment of my working life. My choice to work only in opera was never a conscious one; it just happened at a very early age and has been the bedrock of my career. I had never really thought how important music can be to people who don't work with it, or have access to it.

Earlier this year, I had a small professional wobble when a company I had worked with for many years decided not to use me again. It was a shame as this was a job where I worked regularly with not just colleagues, but friends too. I spent a time re-evaluating and for a few months I felt that I had lost my stage management nerve and my confidence was way down. I filled the gaps up with a lot of freelance stuff and planned a lot of work for new companies where I could not be pre-judged. Streetwise was one of these new companies, and apart from meeting Susie over a glass of wine, I knew nothing except that I had been recommended by a fellow Stage Manager.

Streetwise production meetings were some of the best organised meetings I have ever been to! They were thorough, clear and with immaculate and updated paperwork. The other stage manager was a joy and I felt that we had a really strong technical team to take us to the BFI. I was still just looking at this as another job but was looking forward to the experience. I read the guidelines about working with the Streetwise Performers and on paper found this daunting, but knew I could cope. As it turns out of course, it's all just common sense and logical!

The BFI was hard work but very well organised, the two stage managers complimented each other perfectly. Technically it was a crack team who bonded well and made a smooth show out of ordered chaos.

My initial reaction was that trying to do live theatre in a small, cramped cinema was not ideal, but we would make it work the best we could.

And then something magical happened, the performers began to arrive and work in the space. Suddenly it wasn't a small cinema trying to be a theatre...it was the best space they had ever seen, it was vibrant, exciting and might as well have been the Palladium! There was interest in the technical things going on, a great buzz about having costumes, props, a set, and that was the moment I began working with Streetwise, rather than for Streetwise.

The next two days were mad - an exhausting round of techs, dress and performances with each group differing in requirements and personalities. The Streetwise staff are a phenomenal bunch, organising, counselling, cajoling, tidying, herding etc. and with such enthusiasm and grace that it is very hard not to be positive around people who are having the time of their lives. I will always remember Emma's speech about how it is perfectly normal to feel flat the day after a last night, to recognise that, and to then look forward rather than back. It was exactly how I felt after the BFI, and before I knew that I would be free for the tour.

The tour rehearsals were great fun, and it was interesting to see how we all evolved during the period and that the performers, because they were treated like professionals, grew in confidence both on stage and in the rehearsal room environment.

For me, the tour was a joy as one of my great strengths is being able to go into a venue for the first time and very quickly organise, assimilate and work with local crews. I thrive on days like that.

The performers are going from strength to strength and I really feel that we were our own little professional touring company.

As for me, I have learnt never to pre-judge anyone, to go with the flow and enjoy watching a remarkable creative process happen with the most unlikely of people and venues. And I have definitely got my stage management mojo back. The Answer to Everything turned out to be as important to me as it was to our cast.

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