Recently I blogged about big projects, among them the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. I told the personal bit about having been in Stratford during the period they were working on it.
I couldn’t find my copy of The Nicholas Nickleby Story, in which one of the three directors of the project recounts how it all happened. I must have given it to the theatre. (Or it may be possible, since I had the wrong size/color of book in my head, I simply overlooked it over on my shelves.) At any rate, I ordered a used one from Amazon.
I had forgotten that the whole thing started out very cautiously, with a five-week period of experimentation after which the members of the company had the option of not continuing with the work if they didn’t think it was going to work. Five weeks was not enough, of course, so they voted to extend it another three weeks, i.e., after the Christmas break.
That’s when we were there: during the first rush of research and improvisation and figuring out how or even whether they could do this thing. They had just come back from break and were hurtling toward the final reckoning, the fish-or-cut-bait moment when they would either stop the project or continue. Wow.