And a happy new year to you all…..an odd year so far, but things are quietly bubbling away. I’m not not busy, with my stage productions of Rigoletto and Bronte keeping my mind busy, if not keeping the bank manager happy. Both projects are stripped back and at their most basics, and both have challenges – Rigoletto is about the logistics of bring the cast together. I have no shortage of ideas about the production. and the Bronte challenge is make a complex, often harrowing play satisfying and ‘entertaining’. and imaginative. I’ve certainly seen two amazing productions this year, that define the word imaginative. I took a friend to the Royal exchange, to see The Producers. Traditionally that is a spectacular piece with set upon set and a cast of thousands. The space of the Royal exchange does not allow that but it does allow a leggy showgirl or boy’s foot to be kicked inches from your face, and to see every sequin and every feather. The necessary physical limits imposed by that space often force them to be more creative, and boy did they rise to that challenge. Yes we got a clever stage filling revolving swastika, but not as expected. many surprise after surprise. My friend was giddy, which of course made me giddy. he is at the top of his performing career, and this new space thrilled him. and yesterday I went with just the right friend to Company in London, and boy did we appreciate the new approach to an old favourite, and it is an old favourite. The much discussed gender changes didn’t really occur to me when watching as it all seemed so right, but it was the big budget, big imagination production that thrilled me…moving from a gorgeously lit empty space and Bobbie standing there in a dazzling red dress, to the most beautifully watery lit stage filling series of neon lit rooms, with choreographic staging that echoed my favourite animated film, Tango – all changing seamlessly in an instant.Witty direction, and so sophisticated. this was classy, intelligent theatre, and an approach I know I am capable of, but first you need people to turn up to rehearsal. Enough said. You also need people to pay you for work done – that’s been the other big battle of the year, and it has taken so much effort, and I’m still owed so much. Red tape – for feck’s sake!