It is seven days since I took part in the last performance of “Albert Drive – the Show.” About this time last week I had just arrived at our dressing rooms backstage at the Tramway. We were due on stage in ten minutes time to have our last warm up and run through of the performance with Jess, Tashi and Rachel of Glas(s) Performance – the masterminds behind the devised performance about neighbours on Albert Drive. Twelve weeks ago we had got together one Monday evening to get to know each other and see if we wanted to be part of the performance. Originally I was only there in the rehearsals room in my capacity as Creative Volunteer on the project, to help out. Little did I know then that some weeks later I would be reading our performance reviews in the Herald and Scotsman. My son, Adam, joined me at rehearsals a couple of weeks later curious to know where Mum was disappearing to on a Monday night.
Despite living in Pollokshields for sixteen years, I only knew one of my neighbours faces in that rehearsal room and even then I did not know the name to go with that face. As we shared bits of our life stories, the people in that rehearsal room grew close. We opened up to each other. We laughed and we cried, getting emotional retelling our stories. Soon the highlight of my week was entering that rehearsal room. No matter how I felt as I entered – stressed – tired – I always felt happy as I left and was guaranteed to give a positive “check out” in the circle at the end of every rehearsal.
It had been a difficult year for my family. My Mum had a major stroke and was left with limited mobility in a wheelchair. Plans of adopting a child had to be abandoned due to the stress on the family and the time that I now needed to devote to my Mum. The Albert Drive project could not have come at a better time for me. I was also going through a bit of midlife crisis about careers, feeling I was not fulfilled in the academic computing world that I had spent the last twenty years in. My interests and passion always lay in the arts, be it dance, theatre or visual arts. Could the Albert Drive Project offer me a chance to dip my toe in the professional arts world?
Rehearsals continued moving to twice a week then twice a week plus all weekend. These neighbours were now my friends. I looked forward to seeing them each and every rehearsal. Adam also made great friendships with young and old – a new big sister in Laiqi, a wee sister in Violet and best buddy in Marcus and Frank. He formed a special bond with Alison from Forest House and this resulted in them dancing together as part of the final devised performance. Before we knew it, it was performance weekend. We were all nervous and all had our moments of freaking out but the warmth and support we got from each other and the project team – who now included Avalon and Linsey – soon calmed our inexperienced nerves.
3pm, Saturday 6th July, Tramway 1. Linsey gave the first cue and we were off and in a blink of an eye it was over and the stage went black. Suddenly there was applause, screams and an impromptu standing ovation. The audience loved it. We loved the audience loving it. We ran off stage and into Dressing Room 1 all screaming, hugging and high five-ing each other. We had done it and how amazing it felt. This group of 20 neighbours came together to produce something so special for our community.
As I said at the start, it is seven days since our last performance. I have spent the week going up and down Albert Drive, nipping into the Tramway for any old excuse just wanting to be close to where it all happened and hold on to the amazing feeling it generated for as long as possible. It took me thirty minutes one day cycling down Albert Drive to get to the Tramway after stopping to speak to my neighbours numerous times.
So has the Albert Drive Project made a difference to this community? I would say an unreserved “yes, definitely.” It has brought me and my son such a positive and unique experience that will stay with us for a very long time and I know my neighbours feel the same way. There are lots of plans for get togethers by young and old involved with the project. Has the Albert Drive project given me a new career direction – yes, definitely – where will it take me? I am not sure but I am going to enjoy the journey.
One Response to It’s all over…
Ria Din said: That's a lovely account Michelle.As a co cast member I'm away on a short break to Copenhagen and almost resent the fact that its distanced me from the post performance high I was on before I left! I still think that's a good idea of mine to create a show CD- I couldn't stop singing the tunes before I left! I find myself wanting to ask Jess, Tashi and Rachel how they came to know how to visualise and then realise our stories so brilliantly well and I'm really looking forward to seeing the DVD to see how it really looked from the audiences side.Like you,I've been stopped by so many people who loved the show and our performances.I thought everyone was fabulous and the kids were immense. I don't think I'm quite there yet with being able to put the experience into words- only that I know it's been one of the best things I've ever done and and has helped me turn my year around. I think ,like you,it's also going to help me release my creativity for when I cut down on my day job later this year . Thanks for everything Glas(s)performance and my wonderful co performers - it's been braw and see you all very soon X