What it feels like…to entertain 10 000 people every night for a month.

By Michael Hines, Glasgow.

Even as a kid I have always thought that it was not the number of years I lived through but the number of moments I lived in that would add worth to my life.

During the 21 performances of Still Game at The Hydro, there was a moment each night that reminded me of that thought.

Towards the end, one of the characters goes into a dream and as she does so, I’d decided all the sets onstage would retract back whilst the whole arena was lit up with strange lights.

No-one expected it and I would come from backstage each night to see 10,000 jaws drop and smiles light up. The surprised laughter echoing around that arena will stay with me forever and I felt immense pride at helping entertain the audience. For when someone laughs, in that moment, they forget all their troubles and that can only be a good thing.

Hydro-half-way-up

There is always a question about not only how do you feel, but what do to with that feeling and can you learn from it?

Interestingly my feelings and thoughts about directing the show and what we did with the piece have changed since the end of the run.

At the time, what we tried to do was ensure every person in that space had a roughly equal experience, using giant screens and multi media content with a very tricky screen ‘edit’.

But as the show went on, I realised that because there were four areas to watch, (the stage, the left/right screens, centre screens and additional graphics on the projection screens), in actual fact, each person had a uniquely individual experience, choosing what they wanted to look at, at any specific point.

Then we noticed that the way in which we changed the pictures on screens, and the timing of the picture cuts, affected the audience’s reaction. We learned that we could create, enhance, alter or prolong laughs and other reactions.

So whilst at first there was pride, (and a little relief!) at getting the show up and running, later came the realisation that in fact we were creating a new style of theatre, redefining in some sense, how do to theatre in the arena, as well as learning about the art of making comedy.

It reminded me that we will never know it all, and not matter how experienced one is in a particular field, you should always let yourself learn and move forward.

And now afterwards? A little humility, a great deal of inner pride, a big grin at the memories and in some ways a funny feeling of did it really happen?

Each night I was there to watch everyone else ‘do’ the show, I had no specific role apart from some technical moments, but I had directed the whole show, brought the ingredients together and watched nervously as the cast and crew flew off into 21 magical nights.

So being there knowing every moment, but not actually doing anything was an odd sensation. I guess every theatre director has it. So in some ways, it was everything and nothing at the same time. And that’s a good way of being. Still grinning though!

@mrmhines