“And now, the end is near. And so I face the final curtain”. Ok, I’ll stop there but hey, a theatrical blog can’t draw to a close without a sprinkling of melodrama right?

As is customary at this media-montage heavy time of the year, I’m diverting from the usual format to reflect on my first year as an emerging theatre maker/director in Manchester and to crunch some numbers in the style of that Christmas classic, the Twelve Days of Christmas. Our family’s now infamous Big Fat Christmas Quiz of the Year may be exerting an unhealthy amount of influence on this clearly inspired, creative decision, for which, absolutely no apologies. But before I get to the number crunch montage however, a few brief reflections and one piece of news.

The news is that neither of the Assistant Director job applications came to fruition. Is that a bum note at this festive time of the year? Not really. It’s a competitive industry, I’m a newcomer and there are literally thousands of other aspiring theatre directors out there, quite a few of whom have more experience than I do. What is the solution to this? Keep building my experience and keep applying. Simple. It’s also, strangely enough, been a bit of a gift in disguise. With the amount of pre-production work that I’d been doing for Joy Unspeakable I’d got a bit bogged down and demotivated by the project, so the prospect of having to shelve it for at least six months perhaps felt enticing. However, as the clock ticked by I started to feel a bit gutted about this and wondered if I had perhaps made a mistake. Did I really want those Assistant Director jobs after all? Now that I don’t have them and Joy Unspeakable has effectively been handed back to me, I actually feel re-energised, re-motivated and excited for where it will go in 2017. So that’s kind of cool.

So, the reflections. Twelve months ago I gave up on any remaining semblance of job security, tied up my red spotted handkerchief and threw my lot in with a city that is globally famous for playing host to the Theatre of Dreams. Did I make the right move? Absolutely. Manchester has been very good to me. The theatre community here has given me a typically Northern, generous welcome: I’ve been significantly supported by The Octagon Theatre Bolton, I’ve had the massive privilege of observing the artistic powerhouse relationship between Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake in action at the Royal Exchange and I’ve been given an open door to meetings with programmers in a large handful of Northern venues, which feels pretty special. Despite the moments of sheer terror, mind-boggling exhaustion and potential crises of faith, 2016, in my small patch of the universe at least, has been a pretty decent year. So thanks for joining me for the ride! And just in case any of you are wondering what will fill the hole in your life created by the end of the Mancunian Way blog, fear not. A luta continua. The blog will go on. It’s been a really useful way of reflecting on my own development and a helpful record to go back to. So, with encouragement from a few others, I’ve decided to continue the blog in 2017, albeit probably in a slightly different, shorter and less time-consuming form. News on that to follow but for now, charge your glasses, crank the montage of heck generator and….

…roll the number crunching montage….

My 2016 in numbers!

1 Works-in-Progress show presented

3 Performances of Joy Unspeakable

7 Northern cities visited for the purposes of tour planning

8 Applications sweated over and submitted (5 with successful results)

13 Venues visited

23 Training courses and workshops attended

24 Theatre or dance shows seen

72 Meetings held with artists, programmers or producers

169 New theatre industry contacts made

592 Hours worked on The Lowry Box Office

£1585 Raised by you to support the first phase of Joy Unspeakable. Thank you!

23242 Words written in this Mancunian Way blog

And finally, here is a picture of the DeLorean. It was parked outside HOME last time I was there. I have no idea why.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Here’s to the future, it’s not all bleak:)

delorean-resized

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!