Over the next few weeks we will be finishing one of my favourite projects of this year, The Writers' Room with our very last two performances as part of the Belfast Fringe in the fantastic Baby Grand. Since June we have wanted to bring The Writers' Room back to Belfast and we've been trying to find the right venue and opportunity to stage our final outing after the adventure we had in London.
It was with a large amount of luck that we were invited to bring our show to the Grand Opera House, and it's only through the support of the team there and our friends from the main NI companies that's made it possible. This is our first time heading to the Grand Opera House as a company and it should be a fantastic final outing for this great play. As well as having these two special performances, we have another first by having one performance being captioned, via the help of NITA to make this happen.
Our journey to the Baby Grand actually starts back in 2010 and our very first series of rehearsed readings VI. The first reading we launched the series with was in fact The Writers' Room, then The Writers' Group. As this was the first of the series we invited a lot of different people to see the work and to help get feedback about the format and the programme in general. Luckily Aine Dolan from the Grand Opera House came to see the reading and really liked it. We talked about bringing the show as a full production to the GOH for various possible events but no options ever came together. At the same time, Arts & Business were really interested in the show as well for a number of their members events, but again nothing developed for lots of different reasons. After this number of false starts I was very despondent about where we could take the show and fully stage it. When Pick 'n' Mix appeared I knew it would be perfect for the show and that we could develop the production beyond Pick 'n' Mix. I then looked for options both inside Northern Ireland and outside, mainly in London, were I was based at the time. After the opportunities in London materialised I realised that we would then be in the position of performing the show outside of home more than inside and I was very keen on bringing it back again after London for one final outing. The Belfast Fringe provided the ideal opportunity but left me with the issue of where to stage it. The Fringe provided lots of options but I felt none were perfect for the show, so it was up to us to hunt down one. I sent out emails to venues that we liked, including one to Aine at the GOH. Rejection and no thanks emails came back from all except the Opera House, from which there was no word. At the same time I was working away from Belfast and just didn't have time to keep chasing things as our options dwindled to nothing. Finally the day came, when I had to mke the decision to pull out of the Fringe, as we just didn't have anywhere to go. Just then, unbelievable as it was, I got an email from Aine apologising for the late reply and that she had recommended the show to the new Chief Exec of the Opera House Michael Ockwell and he would call later in the day! A stroke of the greatest of fortunes that I've ever come across! There was hope...
Michael and I chatted on the phone and after another few calls around, to the Fringe in particular to extend our deadline for information, we struck a deal to bring the show to the Baby Grand. Michael was very good to us and was keen to support the work of emeging Northern Irish companies in one of the main venues in Belfast and we have him and so many others to thank for their help in developing the show!
‘I am delighted that the Grand Opera House is a part of this year’s Belfast Fringe Festival and especially delighted that we are hosting Accidental Theatre’s The Writer’s Room. It is no surprise that they enjoyed sell out performances during it’s run at the Pick ‘n’ Mix Festival and I certainly anticipate the same success for both performances at The Baby Grand. The Grand Opera House is committed to supporting and engaging with local companies like Accidental Theatre and welcome any opportunity to work in partnership with them.’ - Michael Ockwell
So we're excited to be at the Baby Grand for the last showing of this great play and can't wait to develop this relationship with the Baby Grand and the main Northern Irish companies.