The beginning of April 2012 has seen Nitro move from being an organisation regularly funded by the Arts Council to one entirely free and unencumbered by the weight of all that overburdening annual cash. So how have we responded? Well we’ve had to re-group, cut back to basics and continue to develop and produce top quality black music theatre.
Sadly we’ve had to say goodbye to the very wonderful Naomi Blanche, our Administrator. And we have now bid farewell to our cherished home of the past 12 years – the enormously fabulous 6 Brewery Road. Losing our rehearsal rooms not only means we will have to find new places to prepare our work, but it also means we don’t get to meet and mix with so many other theatre companies who hired our space to rehearse their own work. There will be no more angelic sounds from the voices of NITROVOX wafting through the corridors and competing with the sirens from the ambulance station up the road. And no more screaming abuse from distraught/outraged/adulterous/intoxicated prison visitors to our Pentonville neighbours. And opposite the prison, the wonderfully named “Breakout” café will be sorely missed, though my sky-high cholesterol figures will surely now begin a downward turn.
And there was all our ‘stuff’ - the accumulated files, furniture, paperwork, accounts, scripts, costumes, sets, coffee cups, computers, printers, photocopiers, pianos, recording gear, black curtaining, full-size projection screens, scaffolding, paving stones, African head-masks, silk cloths, turntables, posters – up to 32 years of….STUFF…..from the earliest days of Black Theatre Co-operative, founded in 1979, through the change into Nitro in 1999 until now. All of it had to be put somewhere.
A lot of it has been archived at Goldsmiths College, though an archiving organisation called Future Histories; they have been looking after our archives for 10 years now. So in a few months you’ll be able to go online and see all sorts of fascinating items like the dodgy budgeting for our Wedding Dance tour, or the unexpurgated working scripts for Slamdunk, or the drafts of the music from our composers in A Nitro at the Opera. I’ll let you know when it’s up there and where to go.
The rest of the stuff found good homes on permanent loans or just give-away. And we filled a few skips. Nostalgia reigned for a day or two then I was glad to see the back of all the junk. In my house there are now probably too many African head masks and certainly more permanent marker pens than I’ll ever need, but you never know.
It’s interesting the way some people have reacted to our change of location. Not having a building anymore is tantamount to not existing. We held a little farewell party to say goodbye. Many thought it was a closing down wake – the end of Nitro. Nothing could have been further from the truth but, as with so many areas of the arts, it’s the bricks and mortar that gives you the status, not the work.
From now on, if you want to contact us, try the usual phone number – 020 7609 1331; email – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or indeed firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is still our website and our purpose is still our purpose – to develop and produce high quality black music theatre.
And away from the packing and the farewells I’ve been stupidly busy. I’m setting up a number of new music-theatre projects for Nitro that you will be hearing about in the coming months. I’ve written the music for a rather excellent production of Moon On A Rainbow Shawl at the National Theatre, directed with skill and taste by Michael Buffong and with a great cast; I’ve just arranged, rehearsed and conducted the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah with Ebony Steel band and I’ve written the music for an intriguing circus show called The Arrival, produced by Tamasha and performed as part of The Alchemy Festival at the South Bank. Plus of course I’ve been following my beloved Fulham – an emotionally draining and time-consuming passion.
There will be plenty more from Nitro in the future so please keep watching this space.
All the best