A dream of a week
Written by Penny Miles
There’s a certain high that hits on the opening night of a show. It’s when your heartbeat shifts to match the thunderous enthusiasm of the audience. It’s when the artists nail it. Their post curtain, out-of-breath smiles are the best kind of catching. For those of us who work behind the scenes, it makes the stress evaporate. All those moments of the team pulling together to build budgets, dream up marketing campaigns and coordinate technical needs have paid off.
But who knew reopening the building last week could deliver that same buzz?
Early on circus was deemed a high-risk transmission activity. As weeks rolled into months, we kept our hope bolstered by converting more and more of our extensive building into artist studios. We reassessed and rewrote COVID plans as guidelines changed. Then finally, almost out the blue, permission to trial rehearsals came through.
All that pent up anticipation sent ripples of nerves and doubts through artists and administrators alike. Were we really ready for this? How do we do this again? Even the thought of leaving the house felt like it brought all sorts of forgotten challenges.
We assembled out the front of the building bright and early on Monday. Slight awkward exchanges, waiting patiently to be inducted into new protocols. Then finally crossing the threshold and it was like we never left. Our Fellows and the first wave of our Associate artists explored the building, settled in, and started to stretch and play.
I wish I could bottle the feeling of contentment and joy that was the week. It was a mix of beautiful calm and happiness. Walking through corridors I’d catch glimpses of artists swinging and tumbling, shaking off the cobwebs and flexing their muscles.
There was silence of concentration and strain. Handstands, hoops, and roller skates. Rooms filled with laughter and every corner seemed to hold schemers and dreamers. Social media channels came alive with literal jumping for joy snaps and even documentation of the once ordinary commute to the building.
I couldn’t have been prouder to see the vision realised of the building coming back to life, it was almost surreal. Warming up, experimenting, and rehearsing may seem like small tentative steps for the live performing arts, but it has filled us with such hope for that moment when stages are again full of fun, creativity and daring – making new experiences and memories to reconnect our beloved and deserving Melbourne.