Did you see it? Well you missed a spectacular performance if you didn’t. I’m talking of Monmouth of course, that incredible production that engulfed the Marine Theatre in more ways than one over the past week or so. The reviews have been raving and quite right too because there was heart, soul and crowd control that went into this mammoth production.

That’s because it was a sell-out every night and other than the rebel mob that was supporting the Duke of Monmouth as he walked up from the sand shelf near the Cobb, there was also a crowd of 200 bringing up the rear who required their tickets and seats. Have you ever tried explaining your plans to 200 people? It’s not easy, less so when everyone is keen to get the best seat in the house and you want to tell them how it’s going to work and by the way there will be a bar-b-q in the interval and please sign our comments book on your way out. I put on my best school-ma’am outside-voice (remember those days when your nursery school teacher would ask you to use your ‘inside voice’?) and I managed to hold their attention for a good 15 seconds (not even as long as that handshake); this sadly meant the bar-b and comments book announcement were sacrificed.

One of our more seasoned volunteers came up with an inspired idea of an alphabetical split so the tickets could be distributed quickly and with a team of 8 volunteers, we soon had everyone seated and the performance continued.

Now if you have ever been to the Marine Theatre (if you haven’t, you must, it’s a wonderful time capsule) you will know it adapts to every need and in between the  Monmouth rebellion we had our weekly Slimming World session and they need the auditorium to be clear, so the 200+ chairs were removed…

think Die Hard 2 “stack ’em, pack ’em & rack ’em”

so the ladies and gents who come along for their weigh-in each Wednesday can listen to the inspirational Charly with her helpful advice and support.

But it was soon all change again when the Lyme Regis Museum arrived for the opening party especially for their volunteers. The plan was to have half of the 120+ people outside enjoying the new museum whilst the other half had tea and cake in the auditorium, then the two halves swapped places. Thus there would likely only ever be around 80 people in the theatre at one time, other than when the guest speaker did his turn. However, the one day of torrential rain happened to coincide with the museum party, so other than having to accommodate a large number of dripping soggy people and a host of wet umbrellas, the original plan had to be abandoned. But with a glass of prosecco on arrival and tea & cake when they returned from the ribbon cutting, whilst they may have been wet, they were a happy band of volunteers.

There are interesting days and weeks ahead as the theatre continues to remodel itself to keep up with the ever-changing face of what the public demand from such a venue, nothing can afford to stand still as people’s expectations alter, but as we have seen with Monmouth, it really is possible to connect the past with the future, however next time I will remember to bring my step-up and my louder ‘outside-voice’.

I learned all about crowd control this week with the invaluable help of some volunteers
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