It was the moment we’d all been waiting for, the moment we’d all been anticipating, the long awaited 24:7 Big Weekend was finally here.
Walking into the Martin Harris Centre on Friday morning I almost immediately felt a new ‘buzz’. A buzz of excitement at what was to come, a buzz of creativity as everyone anxiously awaited their first performance, and a dose of nerves – and all of this combined made us all feel, what I like to call, a little nervxicted.
With the final dress rehearsal done, there was nothing to do but wait for our call time. It arrived quicker than any of us could have imagined – one minute I was enjoying a Fentiman’s Cherrytree Cola (Very nice, I assure you), the next I was carefully placing boxes into set rows, placing props in the correct boxes. Checking them, double checking them, triple checking them, quadruple checking them – and checking them a bit more. But alas the time came and so with it, the first performance of Gary: A Love Story.
It was with a huge relief that the performance went as well as we could have imagined with beautiful performances by both Reuben and Craig. As the night drew to a close I felt a deep sense of pride. We’d done it, suddenly it felt real.
The following nights went just as well if not better, and Gary was well received by each and every audience member. But around Gary, I was thrilled to be able to fit in a plethora of other performances and activities. It was a joy to see what everyone else had been up to and watch and then celebrate their creations with them. There was a true sense of community spirit as everyone rushed around, Artist or Staff Pass in hand, trying to catch each and every bit of magic 24:7’s Big Weekend had to offer.
For me personally, two of the most memorable shows I saw were the monologues (which I attended on Sunny Saturday – hurray! Good judgement and timing there!) and the children’s show, ‘A Butterfly’s Adventure’ by Scallywags. Both were styles of theatre I wouldn’t usually indulge in – the first because I hate getting rained upon and so any such risk is avoided and the second? Well, when you don’t have any kids and your nieces are a bit too cool for ‘that’ – you don’t get the chance to see children’s theatre. However, I thoroughly enjoyed both – in fact, I probably enjoyed the Scallywags’ performance a little too much – I’m definitely a big kid!
But alongside brilliant shows and rehearsed readings sat workshops and on the Sunday I was fortunate to attend an ‘Acting Q&A’ with the brilliant Julie Hesmondalgh. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable, insightful and inspiring hour listening to Julie speak about her journey and it was a joy to talk to her later on in the day.
But Sunday also held a tinge of sadness. It was Gary’s last performance and therefore our last day with our brilliant director, Danielle, who had to return to London and also the closing party of 24:7 (which was a thoroughly enjoyable event).
Following 24:7 Team Gary went to Liverpool, where after another super performance, we all went out and finally celebrated. One quick drink turned into lots of quick drinks… Soon regretted the morning after when we all had to get up early and return to our various hometowns.
Working with Team Gary has been an utter pleasure, a joy and a privilege. We’ve had our ups (Finding Jukeboxes on eBay), our downs (Reuben falling through the boxes), we’ve had our 5 star reviews (Next to The Skriker’s 4 star review in the Skinny – thanks guys!) and finally, we won the Equity Vicky Allen Memorial Award for Best 24:7 play. I am honoured to have played a part in Team Gary and will be forever thankful to everyone at 24:7 for allowing me the opportunity to take part, live new experiences, but most importantly? Make new friends.