There really are no two weeks alike at the Marine Theatre and this past week couldn’t have been more different.
Probably one of the most crucial deadlines in the theatre calendar is for the theatre programme; we aim to have it on the shelves no later than one week before the new season starts.
Quite achievable except the whole process relies on performers not changing their dates or deciding the ticket price isn’t right. Then there is the formatting and trying to get as much information on the page as possible in as small a space as possible. Add to the mix everything else that is going on in and around the theatre, you’ll begin to see it’s no easy task. Fortunately our acting programmer was there to give it a ‘second eyes’ which is very useful as it soon becomes not so much a case of not seeing the wood for the trees as not seeing the i’s for the e’s! But after five, or was it six, amendments, I finally signed it off and gave Creeds the Printers in Bridport the green light. There is a near tangible weight that lifts from my shoulders as I press the send button with a very determined index finger.
Of course the finished product will go under the close and expert scrutiny of our Tourist Information Centre; they are devilishly clever at spotting inconsistencies, but I am hopeful they won’t spot anything this time round!
Whilst all this high drama was going on in the office, there was some heave-ho’ing going on outside on the forecourt as Vera returned after her brief sojourn across the way (she had to vacate the area for the wedding party the previous weekend). It took a group of around 10 muscle bound men from the boat-building academy to lift her back into place on her stays and what with the manhandling and general kerfuffle, her old wooden boards were creaking just a little, so after she had settled, traditional wooden boat-builder Gail McGarva gently dabbed some rich black gunge along her joins to reseal the tiny gaps that had appeared.
I’m pleased to say Vera will not be moving again until the end of her residency in December so if you do get a chance, pop down to see her, Gail is there most days and is always happy to talk to people about this very special boat.
But the highlight of my week, no, the highlight of my year, possibly decade, was meeting a national hero, a pioneer in wildlife conservation, someone who was talking about the dangers of habitat destruction years before it hit the headlines. A man who raised an entire nation of children to became fascinated and intrigued by their natural world so they could take action in later life to protect their heritage.
I talk of that complete legend, Sir David Attenborough.
It was the Lyme Regis Museum’s special opening ceremony and party on Thursday and the theatre was full of dignitaries and special guests who not only enjoyed some sparkling Prosecco, delicious cakes and copious cups of tea but also the iconic and distinguished voice of Sir David.
What a remarkable man he is. At 91 he walks completely unaided and not once did he refer to any notes or aide memoire during his 10 minute speech with that oh so familiar voice and his arms expanding his words enthusiastically. The only little bit of assistance was in the form of a winged chair we borrowed from the superb Royal Lion Hotel just up the road.
Being such a huge and important part of my childhood enlightenment, I couldn’t let his visit go without some recognition, so as he approached the office door, I leapt up to shake his hand and thank him for being a hero to so many people. He was carrying a very large cake at the time, (there were a few left over and his favourite is coffee & walnut so it seemed only right he should have one!) but he happily balanced the cake in his left hand and gave me a beaming smile.
What a man!
My week rounded off with some interesting hydraulic engineering going on just under the theatre window. Below Theatre Square rests the workings of South West Water and on Friday an enormous device arrived that looked like Optimus Prime out of Transformers and whilst engineering really doesn’t do much for me, it was quite fascinating to watch the extraordinary piece of machinery, despite its size and robustness, extend and rotate so effortlessly. I expected to see some enormous million tonne excavator emerge as Optimus extended its long arm inside the underground cavern, but was rather disappointed to see an insignificant piece of pipework lifted out and gently placed on the lorry.
So now all the excitement of the new programme, the legendry Sir David and a machine straight out of science fiction has died down, I wonder what thrills await me next week? There is talk of finally moving into the new office space which has been a WIP since early June; now that would be mind-blowing!