It’s been a year since I wrote about writing in uncertain times. But for all the changes that COVID has brought to the arts, the rhythm of getting a new show written for the Adelaide Fringe remains the same. It goes like this:
- Registrations open in August or September. I’ve got a title and a bit of a concept. I say to Adrian, ‘Fringe registrations are open.’ He says, ‘You asked me to remind you that you don’t want to register a show that isn’t written; that you don’t want to spend December and January writing in a panic, this time you really want to give the writing room to breathe. Is the show written?’ I tell him I’ve got the title, I tell him the concept. ‘It’s only August,’ I say, ‘There’s HEAPS of time.’
- I start my registration telling myself if I haven’t got the show together when registrations close I’ll just cancel the registration.
- I get in touch with Maggie, ask her if she’ll work with me again and direct the show, she asks a bit about the show, I tell her I’ve got a title and a concept and I’m about to start writing; I get in touch with Pamela at The Bakehouse Theatre to book my space and pay my deposit; I buy myself a new notebook and open a new file on my computer, optimistically calling it ‘first draft’.
- Registrations are about to close and I think, Well, I’ve got the title and concept and there’s months til Fringe, I’ll regret it if I don’t.
- Registrations close, I’ve paid my money, I’m in. ‘Have you written the show?’ Adrian asks. I say, ‘I’m starting Monday. I’ve got the title, the concept, it’s a brilliant idea, it will practically write itself.’
- It’s October, this is the perfect time to start writing. I open my notebook a lot and rewrite the title. I do not start writing.
- I start messaging Maggie telling her how excited I am, how it’s growing in my mind. I do not start writing.
- November. I get hayfever, I’ve forgotten which are the antihistamines that don’t make drowsy and spend the first two weeks sleeping. Adrian asks me how the writing is going. I sneeze.
- December arrives, the fringe program is launched, I want to start writing but I’m too busy obsessively checking ticket sales. People are buying tickets! Why are they buying tickets? Don’t they know it isn’t finished yet? I picture people arriving at the theatre. I start writing like my life depends on it. I message Maggie late into the night: Do you think this works? I ring Adrian at work: Is this funny?
- January, everyone else is on holiday while I am at my desk redrafting and redrafting and redrafting, and when I’m not at my desk, I’m in rehearsals with Maggie and through it all I’m asking myself, ‘Why didn’t I do this in August? I should have done this in August.’
- February the show goes on.
- March. I buy Maggie and Adrian a drink, we raise a toast and I say, ‘Right, for next year, do not let me register a show that it isn’t written. If I haven’t finished it by September we aren’t putting it on, okay?’
PS As well as being a wonderful director, Maggie has picked her camera up again and is doing amazing things. She took the promo image for Potluck and she captured the show’s concept perfectly. You can see more of her wonderful work on her website.