A Sad Reunion

You’d have thought, working for Stan’s Cafe, I’d have become inured to bathos, but the jolt from the valedictory post show discussion in Vienna on Saturday to the dirty manual labour of Monday was a bit much.

CFNX wanted to take back possession of our rehearsal space ASAP so with half the company in Vienna, most of the rest in Rostock and Ana in Frankley preparing a carnival it was my job to convert 27 Lower Trinity Street from a crucible of theatrical alchemy back into a post-industrial hovel. The greater part of this operation was done by hiring a tall ladder and pulling some sheets of pond-liner off the sky-lights. I hired a skip for everything that was of no use and a van for everything that was of some use. I went at it like a demon and managed to get the whole job done in six hours.

Tuesday was half van choreography, half being Charlotte’s proxy in the office; trawling through answer-phone messages, sorting the post into a small pile of interesting looking envelopes (which I opened) and a large pile of uninteresting ones (that I placed on Charlotte’s desk awaiting her return).

Wednesday was more of the same and a meeting about a bit of work with Learning Disabled Adults that could come off after September if we want it to.

Thursday was spent in Foxford School applying my brain to various creative projects different teachers are in different stages of planning or executing, which we or others could assist with.

Today I started work making a DVD of Constance Brown to send to Nick Tigg who is lined up to be the new Andy, replacing Gareth who will become the old Andy, but not the old old Andy, who is, of course Andy and who is convalescing in Leeds.

This afternoon there was a small gathering “Celebrating the life of Marie Zimmerman”, hosted by David Lan at The Young Vic. David Tushingham, who had worked with Marie for ten years gave a generous, touching and well judged speech, in which, amongst other things, he said how much she liked London and valued the generation of British Theatre makers whose representatives were gathered in the room.

These were sad circumstances in which to be reunited with Sue and her colleagues from Theatre Rites who we’d met at Marie’s festival in Stuttgart and Mark von Henning, who we first met at Marie’s festival in Hanover back in 2000. Amongst others there were: Tim from Forced Entertainment, Judith from Arts Admin, Michael Morris from various enterprises and the Improbable trio of Phelim, Julian and Lee, who, improbably, despite sharing a producer, I’d never met before.

It was great to meet Lorna, David’s wife, but the highlight for me was, late in the function, having a chance to embrace Friedrich Schirmen, Marie’s husband and Intendant of the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. He is a kind, quiet and thoughtful man. Here, after my cowardly opening gambit, he started talking openly and movingly about Marie, their journey together and his mourning.

On a small table stood a small photograph of Marie, flanked by two modest vases of flowers whose reds and oranges match her dress as it glows in a Southern German Sun. She is looking up at the camera, smiling a familiar smile: the Marie I choose to remember.

It feels OK to come home now.


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