And Breathe – The Junction, Networking & don’t jump From Up Here…

I promised by Whatsonstage reader, myself, and my CGO/twitter followers at least a weekly blog. Not quite managed it this week. Been a bit mad but let me share some experiences of networking over the last few days, and gathering good people to share what you have to offer. Let me touch on The Cambridge Junction, where art meets life; Brooklyn Bridge where lonely people meet; and Business Scene where business meets.

Kath and I went to the Cambridge Junction launch. A year on from Daniel Brine’s inaugural introduction as director he, and the whole place, seem energised, welcoming and with a clear sense of direction. A packed house saw extracts from pieces in development and due for presentation in the next season. The Cambridge arts community gathered to connect and it felt buzzing and a good place to be. I was especially impressed by the two presentations on music/comedy programming and theatre/cabaret programme which each followed the rule of 20 slides , 20 seconds each as in Anticipation, some instant hits, and quickly onto the next thing. Left me wanting more.

The following night I was taken to my first Business Scene meeting. It’s a gathering across London and beyond of business people who meet for a glass of wine, some food, some networking, and some quick keynote speaking. I’ve been a part of 4N Networking which I enjoyed, but was encouraged to try Business Scene by my colleague David Roylance. I met some fascinating people and some people, even in my first gathering, who I will look forward to working with. These sessions can be scary, and it is great to be with a friend. I would highly recommend anyone working in a community as a professional arts practitioner, or running a company, or in arts marketing, or setting up their own business – join one of the networks. You will meet people fascinated by your exotic and rather odd world, and you will meet people who work in communities that could be your audience or your participants. And once in a while you’ll meet a new business connection with long-term benefit to both sides. Don’t rush, don’t panic, let your face get noticed, and be open to unexpected connections. Make friends for your art and their business.

I’m afraid I don’t get to much in the West End at the moment. In a sense by the time it gets there there’s nothing I can do exact sit-back and enjoy…and as a freelancer my sit-back time is really limited. But I do try and see some of the many shows I get asked to which are in development or created by the emerging talent. I wrote about the playwright Charlie Hay last week, and it is great to see her progressing. And now it’s a pleasure to have seen the work of Theatre Lapis who were presenting the London Premiere of “From Up Here” by Aaron Lee Lambert with Adam Day Howard. Directed by Yojiro Ichikawa who I first met as interpreter for my Japanese meetings with DxL Creations here in London (and whom I will be working with this weekend in Tokyo.

This is a heartfelt interlocking tale of 5 lost souls in New York who find comfort in the Brooklyn Bridge, and peace through each other. It is packed through with good numbers for the artists and has a haunting title song which is still playing in my head. The design feels so clearly rooted in the Japanese sense of style and simplicity – and it worked so well in the Tristan Bates. I wish I had seen their production of “Ordinary Days” which I love as a score and from the reading I have done.

We are blessed with a whole heap of new directors and emerging companies making work happen. If you are an established player or mover in the commercial or subsidised theatre, please take time to see what is happening at the Fringes of London theatre – its where the future is.

And finally I did get to see a show for pleasure last night before heading to Tokyo. I got a last minute ticket to “Once” at the Phoenix, and I had my money’s worth of sheer joy before the official start at 7.30pm. Do grab a ticket and go to see this beautiful piece of #storymusic refreshingly staged, designed and lit to tell the story simply and heartwarmingly. A wonderful cast of actor musicians did us proud. Its another example of new ways to invite an audience to enjoy Musical Theatre and, like London Road, it invites a discerning theatregoing/drama audience to be part of an evening of intelligent storytelling with heart.

Off to Tokyo in the morning. With luck I will see “A Chorus Line” in the Shiki Theatre on Saturday. I will be having meetings with three major creators of global popular culture , and am excited to see what flows for some of my long-term plans.

Thanks for reading Chris