The good news was that between us, Hamed and I were able to persuade Carla to join us for our performance at the festival. Including me, this meant a cast of five, which would be sufficient to tell the story. (As it turned out, the performance space was so cramped that it was just as well that we did not turn up with more!)
I drove separately to the festival in Streatham, arriving good and early. I had intended to be there in good time to see all there was to see, and maybe have the opportunity to talk to some people, but in fact I was far too early. There was not so very much to see, and no-one to talk to; I made myself known to Tamara, the organiser, but she was clearly somewhat stressed by all the things she had to think about, so that was little more than a token hello.
It is not that the event itself was poorly conceived or executed. There were a lot of people there, and on the whole they were fulfilling their aim, of giving everyone an event at which to meet, to let the children run, to meet friends if you knew them already. Out front was a sort of market-place of charities and campaigning groups; the main building had various rooms devoted to exhibitions, craft-making (for children), and a performance space – two rooms with the dividing doors between them pulled back, but a difficult space to work, fine for a reading or lecture (or, indeed, some comedy, which went on just before us); not so much for theatre. It was good that our piece was pretty static; even the limited movement we had included was difficult.
The others turned up during the day, except for Tulsi, who had arrived early, and looked magnificent in their make-up and costume – Tulsi, as well as appearing with us, was performing a solo Indian classical dance. I had been a little concerned that they would want to keep their appearance in costume as a secret until the dance, but not a bit of it. Tulsi was on display, and created quite a stir, the (joint) subject of many selfies.
As Carla had never seen the parts she was to play, we held an impromptu rehearsal out front by the bins, and all went well. The performance itself I was a little less pleased with, partly because of my own contribution. I was flustered – the comedy acts before us had over-run – and so was not as calm as I ought to have been. The atmosphere was noisy, with other sounds of children and others filtering in. And we were very cramped.
Nonetheless, we managed it fine, and got a good reaction from the audience, with one or two saying very positive things to me. But there was not a great deal of room, and we did not always hold people’s attention as well as I would have liked. But still, we had performed the first half of our play, and so I suppose that was useful, demonstrating that there are the seeds there of a strong play.
Finally, we stayed for a little while in order to watch Tulsi’s performance, after which I fought my way through the Saturday evening traffic to get back on to the motorway and home.