A few weeks ago I went to my writer's group as usual in Bristol. After the meeting I walked past the set of Bristol Old Vic's #The Boy who cried Wolf which juts out in front of the Georgian building onto the cobbles of King Street.
The Michael Morpurgo adaption of Aesop's fables is directed by Sally Cookson.
Seeing the set took me back to my days as a researcher at Bristol Old Vic for the play 'A Town in the West Country' where we dressed the street with sandbags and had a tank parked outside for performances. We led the audience through backstage areas to the sound of sirens. That job, collecting stories from elderly people about their war experiences, and using these in the production is still one of the most enjoyable jobs I've had. Ordinary people acted, making the 'community play' vivid and real.
Scroll forward xxx years to a July evening on King Street 2013. I heard accordian music and singing as the actors rehearsed. White paper roses, a sun, a tree loomed out of the wrapped scaffolding that hid the stage.
I danced on the cobbles - as no one was looking - then crept close to catch a glimpse of the actors, my eye pressed close to the drapes. Waistcoat waiter types with hats were in rehearsal. All I could see was a prominent belly and a side profile, but I was rumbled; an actor spotted me, glancing at me instead of towards the imagined audience. I was clearly a distraction. I did the decent thing and crept away over the cobbles, skipping to my car.
This week the writers' group were sitting outside Renarto's, discussing NP's novel, dripping in the heat. Distracted by the noises of the play in production I spent some time watching a seagull perched on the elegant triangle of the top of the old theatre.
All of a sudden a young seagull with mottled markings flew low above the street and with a swoop landed right into the set. Huge laughter from the audience, then nothing. I sat and watched, alongside a real waiter from Renarto's but no seagull flew out again.
Most distracting. The following day I tweeted @bristololdVIc from my @wordpoppy account and one of the actors explained that an audience member had placed the seagull outside.
Anyway, I've heard the show is very good. And there are tickets left.