Lost Dog’s Executive Producer, Daisy Drury, reflects on a difficult and inspiring few months.
Picture this. It’s Monday 16 March 2020. It’s supposed to be the last few days of rehearsals before we launch our new Romeo onto the world (the brilliant Kip Johnson who has taken over from Artistic Director Ben Duke in our hit show Juliet & Romeo). Instead we’re all gathered in the kitchen at Laughton Lodge and we’ve just pulled the plug on at least 7 months of exciting, difficult, thrilling and logistically bonkers work. Hattie is on the phone to Solène who is stuck in Paris and trying to get to her family near Limoges via a public transport network that has almost completely shut down. I’m sitting with Bob Lockyer, the chair of our board whose kindness and lightness of touch is always so enormously appreciated, thinking my way through our next steps with the word ‘survival’ ticker taping through my brain. Emma and Pip are going through the huge food shop that’s just arrived and was meant to sustain the team for a whole week and turning it into a consolation feast. Dave is outside doing repairs to the set which will now go into storage indefinitely. Kip can be seen in the distance finding solace at the very top of an enormous oak tree having just realised that he won’t get to debut his Romeo in front of an audience any time soon. And Ben who, like a lot of people I know, retreats into domestic tasks when things get difficult, is hoovering.
But when the hoovering was finished, the travel sorted, and Kip had come down from the oak tree, we sat together and ate the consolation feast. As we talked lightly about not much, none of us wanting to go too deeply into ‘what next’, I thought how lucky I was to be facing an uncertain future alongside these people. I knew that with hard work, kindness, creativity, lots of food and perhaps even some more hoovering, we would get through it.
Since then we’ve kept our heads down; partly because we don’t feel we’ve had anything useful to say and partly because we have struggled to imagine a place for ourselves in a world without physical contact or live performance.
But behind the scenes we’ve been busy. As a company we strive for resilience and generosity. We believe that the one feeds the other and that the ideal state is to have the two in balance. With Covid19 and all its consequences our resilience has taken a bashing, but it’s a source of great pride to me that despite everything we have continued to be generous. We upheld our financial commitments to our freelance team. We reached out to artists we’ve worked with over the last few years and provided support. We worked closely with venues and partners to reschedule and reorganise tour dates. We stayed open for business.
Meanwhile, thanks to Emergency Funding from Arts Council England (and the millions of National Lottery ticket buyers who make that funding possible), alongside countless acts of friendship – from our partners at The Place, Farnham Maltings and House, Warwick Arts Centre, National Rural Touring Forum and Queen Mary University; from Mike & Caroline Howes; and from a person who, very late one night and out of the blue, gave a donation through our website and made me cry – our resilience is returning.
We’re beginning to feel like we’ve got something to say again. Watch this space.