Kensal Rise library

posted in: Hotel Lessons | 0

A number of parallel forces came into play to suggest Kensal Rise library as a potential venue for another performance of No Waiting.  Matilda (the volunteer with C4C who had first introduced me to the Holiday Inn) already had a strong presence there; Sue (another volunteer with C4C), had seen the Beck performance and recommended us to the library; and Robin, an English teacher with the ESU, who already teaches many of our members, had suggested it as a possible venue both for his own classes and as a potential venue for us.  So it was that a meeting had been arranged with Stephanie Ess, the manager of the library, with Matilda and me, form me to see the place, and to discuss a possible date.

The library is quite a force in the area.  It has a historical background, having first been opened by Mark Twain in 1900, and then having to battle several attempts to close it by Brent council.  Some of the original building had indeed been lost to the developers (creating expensive apartments), but a local action group had forced some backtracking, so that there is a community-run library still operating, and which is now at the heart of a variety of community projects.  It also runs a number of arts events, generally of a small-scale – author readings and the like – but is also a strong supporter of refugee-based projects – Stephanie herself is the daughter of a Kindertransport child.

The space is small, with wheeled trolleys containing a lot of the books able to be wheeled into a side-room, to leave a bare space, though there is some theatre lighting.  It is not a theatre – there is no stage as such, no wings, no fixed auditorium, has room for about 60 chairs to face a relatively small performance area.  Nonetheless, it would suit our production well enough, once we had accustomed the actors to being on display throughout.  Most important, the library serves a lively local community, with strong support, so there should be no problem in attracting an audience.

The date suggested was during Refugee Week, the third week of June, with the performance taking place on a Sunday afternoon – June 25th.  This seems about right.  It is far enough away to enable us to rehearse and sharpen the play, and give the library time to organise some publicity, but not so far that there is a serious danger of the membership of the group disintegrating… not that there are any real hedges against this, whenever we perform, for these are volatile times, with the hotel accommodation likely to be brought to an end, one way or another, before too long.

I then travelled back to Wembley for our class.  Alem, our newest member, was the first to arrive – he travels across from the Barbican, so has a fair journey.  Disappointingly, the attendance otherwise was weak, with various people either unable to come for various reasons, or simply not turning up.  However, we were able to rehearse a couple of specific scenes, chiefly the Job Centre scenes between Hamed and Aisha, which showed immediate signs of improvement.

And also Godot, with me taking the fourth role – in the absence of Ali – alongside Hamed, Aziz, and Alem.  In an attempt to make us more adaptable to change, I see the Godot “company” as being five actors – the four who did it before plus Alem, with one person thus able either to drop out or to remove themselves.  It is all a little uncertain, so it is a little nerve-wracking to commit to a performance two months away… but that has been the nature of the project from the very start.

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