Battersea Arts Centre and a 3am wander
Reading something that Maddy Costa wrote about her kids asking if spaces where they’d seen shows at BAC were ok really stayed with me over the last few days since the horrible news about the fire engulfing much of building came to my attention courtesy of Twitter late afternoon on Friday. I was also then out in a pub in Edinburgh that evening trying to describe BAC to someone who’d never been there and didn’t know much about it as a performance venue.
First thing: everyone got out safely which was a huge relief to hear.
But talk of theatre and buildings and how important they are or not came to my mind and of course it’s the people that occupy these buildings on a full-time, part-time or passing through basis are what makes the bricks and mortar come alive. Lyn Gardner has written an excellent article here about BAC and the show going on which sums up many of my thoughts but in the early hours of this morning I had a right old wander down memory lane, remembering work I’ve seen up Lavender Hill and the people I’ve come across there.
If you work in theatre, if you don’t, many of us have shows that we look back on as some sort of flagship events in our lives. I saw Communicado’s Blood Wedding at the Seaforth Rooms in the National Hotel in Dingwall, a small Highland market town where I grew up when I was about 11 years old. It completely changed my understanding of theatre and what it could be, what it could do and what my part could be in it. Eden Court through in Inverness programmes much more bravely these days but for me, Communicado in a hotel conference/ceilidh room changed my little 11 year old world, it really did. Others that floated up to the surface last night were the first time I saw Robert Lepage at the Barbican, Theatre de Complicite’s (as it still was way back then) The Street of Crocodiles (after which I cried all the way back to Stoke Newington on the 73 bus, much to my boyfriend’s bemusement, because it was so simply overwhelmingly everything), Improbable’s Shockheaded Peter (still the only show I’ve paid to go and see twice it was so good), the first time I went to the opera (Improbable again, Satyagraha), 4:48 Psychosis at the Royal Court (I’d barely heard of Sarah Kane).
But for under the one roof, and what a charming roof it was and will be again, one hopes soon, I couldn’t beat the BAC. These are just my top three and mainly because last night at 3am they were all so alive still in my mind when, in one case in particular, it was years ago, more than I care to googlise and remember to be honest…In no order of chronology or preference BAC introduced me to the wonderful world of 1927 when I went to see Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea on the recommendation of a friend and couldn’t keep my feet still with excitement. Punchdrunk’s The Masque of the Red Death which I went to see with fellow company member Anna Wilson-Hall where we both became like our best child-selves in a brilliantly darkened world, where the building, one I’m so familiar with, became a labyrinthine mystery, a night I’ll never forget. And I wasn’t long out of drama school when I went to see World Cup Final 1966 by Carl Heap and Tom Morris and was walking down the road after for some food with some of the cast and tech crew and I overheard Tom, talking about actor Ed Woodall, saying ‘He’s one of those actors that says ‘yes’. And that remains one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received. All the better for it’s total inadvertency. If that’s even a word.
So a f**king enormous YES to BAC and all who sail in her, now, then and onwards. We can support them, details on the BAC website here.