A year elsewhere
"What do you think is going to happen?" one of us said.
The three of us – Melissa, Kit and Gavin – were sat in one of the booths of the café at the British Film Institute. We'd just finished a meeting to finalise a grant application ahead of Whalesong's 2020 tour and to lay some groundwork for the recently confirmed season of The Stones in Edinburgh. The café was loud. It had been hard to get a seat. The waiters eyed our empty coffee mugs, willing us to move along. Outside, sunlight streaked across Southbank's concrete topography. It was nearing the end of February. All of us were more than ready to let go of winter. Someone shrugged.
"We'll see, I guess."
And we went our separate ways.
We all have our own versions of this story – that early hinge moment between the year we expected to have and the one we've ended up having. There isn't just one of these moments, of course. They recur, like boring dreams, or clattering teaspoons, or sunlight on concrete.
Then, after that meeting, some ordinary days passed. And after that, shit got real.
We were hopeful for a while, but over the course of the year we watched the seasons of our work shrivel up like tubers. Recognising what had to be done, we methodically pulled them from the earth where we'd hoped they would flower, sealed them tight and put them into storage, ready to plant again at a more opportune time. We waited attentively and tried not to panic ourselves into a whirl of activity.
Theatre is an invitation. A performer and an audience meet in the same place.
"Come with me," says the performer.
"OK," says the audience.
Making theatre in any traditional sense – following our profession – had become a public health risk. So instead, we tried to be a good audience to what was unfolding. We tried to stay quiet and be attentive to what the moment was inviting us to do. And around April, we found an answer.
With our colleague Henry Martin, we founded The Signal House Edition, a journal that operates as an independent adjunct of The Signal House. Joined by our poetry editor Erica Gillingham, we reached out to our artistic communities across the globe to create a monthly offering of art and ideas.
Our lives aren't forged in isolation – they're forged in community with others. In 2020, The Edition has been our way of reaching towards a communal sharing of experience. Over the course of six issues we've published work that we're incredibly proud of, and have been equally proud to see how the journal has knitted together disparate readers and makers into a community.
We hope that we can get back to the theatre soon. In the meantime, and in the future, join us at The Edition, where we can peer together into the haze of next week, next month, next year, and wait for the next hinge to squeak.
What do you think is going to happen?
We'll see, I guess.