Updated: Aug 27, 2022
So, you guys, like, wow. Um I don’t know if you guys are up on current events but like, we’ve moved. Yeah. Everything has been moved. We are no longer at Allen Street, our home of almost 10 years. If you go there, you will not see Brendan and an assortment of Bridge Kids sweating in the workshop, there is no workshop. You won’t go into the air conditioned office and see the walls adorned with the posters of all the cool shows we’ve done, the walls aren’t there. And you certainly shouldn’t expect to go into the rehearsal room and see actors sweating through 'The Cat' on the rehearsal room floor, there is no floor! The container and everything it contained? Moved. All the paint? Moved. Set pieces? Moved. Lights? Moved. Office? Moved. Props? Moved. Workshop? Moved. Costumes? Moved. Possums? Well, we left the possums behind, but we’ve taken everything else!
So I guess, like Rome, it all didn’t happen in a day. In fact it happened over a couple of months! The workshop was the first to go, the week between White Rose ending and Blood will have Blood beginning, was filled with transferring truck loads from Allen Street into the new space that Brendan had built out for the workshop. Yeah, you heard that right, he built it. Will he ever stop impressing? So after a week of loading trucks up with heavy things and unpacking the heavy things and moving, shifting, dusting, building, …the workshop was moved and construction on the Blood Will Have Blood set had begun. And also began a period of time that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. This year is pretty unforgettable but for a lot more reasons than I have the courage or space to type but the last months of 2021 will always be with me and something I will be forever grateful to the powers that be that I somehow landed home to be here for it. I got some good people looking out for me (as we all do). So! For the first couple of weeks of rehearsal, we were rehearsing at Allen Street and building at Cottell Street. Going in between the old place and the new place (as they were sometimes called) was such an exciting thing to do. Especially if you were lucky enough to be going to both places on the same day. You got to feel where we were going, what was around the corner and all the exciting things ahead but you also got to drive to the place that had everything we’ve done, all the lived-in details of a clubhouse of 10 years. It was sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet but always striking to me, even in the midst of rehearsing quite a large show. Speaking of, we had about two weeks to take our minds off the move and the big change that was coming because we had to do some Shakespere in a Park! See, even in the middle of all these big changes and fluxes, some things don't change. Has there been a September recently that Queen’s Gardens hasn’t been filled with some Elizabethan escapades? No and somehow, I don’t think that’ll change.
Then October was upon us and we were back looking at the final stage of the big move. It was now THE thing on the plate. Dates were set, it was happening, no turning back (not that anyone wanted to). Everything left at Allen Street was to be moved and construction on the theatre was to begin. Game. On. Brendan had been looking at the big, somewhat empty room for months, salivating (quite literally) at the prospect of beginning. What a time to be around. The first thing that happened, was the concrete floor got sealed. Needless to say, it was big job. Sealing keeps moisture out, that’s as far as I know but Brendan said it was important and look, you can definitely trust his opinion when it comes to this stuff. See what happens when you don’t. You feel like a fool (which is also something you can trust my opinion on). So not to go into the whole nitty gritty of the process but Brendan used his genius to find the highest spot on the floor (concrete floors aren’t level, please remember this for any relevant situations, I’ll repeat, CONCRETE FLOORS ARE NOT LEVEL, THEY GOT CURVES). Long chalk lines were then made across the entire area, we then placed packers (technical term for a piece of thin wood stacked on one another to make a certain height) and then we levelled all said packers to the highest point that Brendan found. This would enable us to lay long pine boards along the packers to then screw the floor boards to. Genius. And that’s exactly how it went. No problems arised, everything went smoothly, four hours, lick of paint, lick of paint and done. Alright, that was a bit of a lie, some problems arose, some wood took it’s time, the concrete floor, which, if you remember, WAS NOT LEVEL was giving some grief and there were a couple of light restarts made. But it wasn’t too long before we were laying boards down and walking on a brand spanking new floor. I can’t tell you exactly the feeling of walking on a floor that you’ve been building but it’s pretty cool. After we finished the floor, we had a brief little respite, some trips were made, loved ones were visited, shows were seen and before we knew it, we were back and on to the roof.
Okay. The roof. Guys, I’m learning this stuff too and it’s important to share learning, so here we go. First lesson, Townsville is hot. I know, it’s a shock but I digress. When places are hot, your building needs insulation to, you know, insulate the heat. Insulation is pretty much big boards of fibreglass. The other thing about insulation is that you need to screw it to something (it shares this quality with most other things). Hence the need for ceiling battens, so up Brendan was in a sturdy as anything scaffold, with the unfortunate luck to have me as a helper, screwing very long but relatively light rails of aluminium to the roof. Now each batten needed to be a certain distance from the last to ensure we could have enough space to fit and screw each board snugly. So we measured from the big long centre steel beams that hold the building up. They would be straight and not curved, we thought, they hold the building up, they must be straight. Guys. Big thick steel beams ARE NOT STRAIGHT. That’s all I’ll say on the matter, but like the floor, it wasn’t too long before we were up the scaffold, hitting our heads, dropping things off the side but fitting boards of prime time insulation to the roof and screwing those suckers in, quite violently. And now, there’s a ceiling!
Now, I must confess a couple of things, the first is I’ve left a bunch of stuff out. I’m working on a full novelisation of the process, so I’ll keep you all updated but that is to say, so much happened, probably too much to write in a blog post. The second is that there was a bunch of stuff happening that somehow we did at the same time, I worked at a pub, we did a term of training in Sessions and we started a dance troupe. How all this happened, I don’t know, but I’m thankful it did. Makes me feel full. The third is that I’m sure I seem somewhat proficient in all the things above and the truth is, I was merely a passenger on this ride that was very much driven by Brendan O’Connor. Most won’t be surprised to hear that I actually don’t know anything and I feel very lucky that I got to wake up every morning and go and help Brendan build a theatre. I’ll never get tired of saying the last 15 words I just wrote. I have the best mentors in the world, seriously, and I’m not saying that because they’re reading this. (Okay maybe a little bit, but it doesn’t make it any less true!)
You see, avid blog readers, I got to watch this company that we all know and love go through the most amazing change in what was like the quickest blink in slow motion but here’s the thing guys (and I didn’t know this)...it’s still happening! When you can come in or when you find yourselves walking through those doors, it’ll still be happening, it may not seem like it, but it is. Now if that gives you an uneasy feeling that change sometimes can give you, don’t freak out! Because yes! While you can’t go to Allen Street and see that workshop filled with sweaty people, there's another one you can go to (and this one has two doors!) There’s another office! With posters old and new! There’s a rehearsal room! And this one definitely has a floor!
Things change, walls, floors, doors, ceilings, locations and I feel like the luckiest Lachlan that ever lived being able to be home and play some part in that change but I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed watching and being a part of more, is being a part of the constant spirit of this company. Always excited to look forward, and grateful for what's behind us.