First Blog From Canberra – You Are Here Festival

Phil Setren”s play Pretext from last year’s 24/7 is opening in Canberra at the You Are Here Festival on Sunday.  Here’s some direct reflections from a 24 7 er at a Festival similar to ours in Australia.
Direct from the airport, I taxi to meet the organizers of the You Are Here Festival at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop in the Citi Centre, which is hosting some of the Festival’s 110 events.
Tables out in front of the book shop full of busy, planning people.  Performers secure dates for performance as I join the gourp.  Inside, books line the walls of a coffee shop atmosphere, dimly lit for a pefformance going on in stark contrast to the blazing sun .  A goup vocal performance is on the stage with big singers in tight harmony, with a mid-sized and very relaxed audience and atmosphere.  As the double doors are open, people file in and out of the music event, and the dramatically lit stage holds the focus.
Its a fitting backdrop for the first meeting about my play.  Nick Delatovic is the very engaging Festival Director who is greeting artists warmly with good humour and certainly carrying the details of the Festival which opens on thursday for 11 days.  I am astonished and impressed that he knows my play in detail, and can discuss Pretext with me from watching rehearsals.  He tells me about the actors, the approach and the director’s work in last year’s Festival.
In my jet lag I feel very looked after as a writer, and am excited by the sense oo occasion and community that I sense, with many people asking me about Manchester. ‘ Um, uhh.. , its the place I live where I sit behind a computer all day writing and being as anti-social and entertaining as possible, waiting for the rejection letters to cone in.”  NO, I don’t say that.  I say sunny things, as the warm weather has me in a very good mood!
They have asked me to participate in an event called the ‘artist olympics’ where I have to create something in front of an audience from a discipline other than writing.  I’ve also been asked if I will contrbute to the writing of their daily cop show, titled ‘Filth.’  Hmmmm.. sounds right up my street.  I say yes.  He makes a phone call to set up an introduction meeting, and the ‘computer chip’ of detail and possibiity in this remarkable Artistic Director’s mind grows.
The production Manager Nikki takes me to my digs, and as tomorrow is a bank holiday, I will catch up on my sleep.
I wake in the night to the sound of a deafening motor.  It sounds alive.. Its getting closer … I find Nikki in the house.
Oh, that’s just a possum.  Oh… I laugh.. in secret terror.    My fantasy of sleeping with the lovely double doors open under the Australian stars have changed… just for now.