Living in the theatre bubble

10 April 2017

There is no stranger danger at NSDF, says Joseph Winer. In fact, it's the opposite


I’m waiting in the queue to pick up my keys and as I glance down the line I meet eyes with her. I recognise her, I’m sure we met last year. We’ve held the contact for too long to break it, I’m walking over to her. I have no recollection of her name or who she is, but I’m sure we met last year.

"Hello!" we both say,

"I’m really sorry," I continue, "I can’t remember your name."

"That’s fine, I can’t remember yours either!"

Phew. That makes things less awkward.

"Joseph," I say with confidence.

"Abby," she replies.

"Ah yes, I remember now!" 

I’ve already forgotten it.

And I have a funny feeling this week is going to be full of that.

Last year at NSDF, I came up completely on my own, and threw myself into meeting new people. It was one of the best decisions I could have made. Once you meet someone in the theatre bubble, you can almost guarantee you’ll bump into them again, sometimes in the most unlikely places (but more often than not, at the theatre).

I lost my Edinburgh Fringe virginity last summer, and throughout the week kept bumping into people I knew, many of whom I had met at NSDF. There is a strong community of theatre people, and they tend to pop up everywhere you go. Within the first hour of arriving in Hull I managed to catch (or in one case, trip and fall on to) a dozen or so people I met at last year’s festival, in addition to a friend from uni who I didn’t even know was going to be here. I had a chat with Psyche Stott during which we realised we were both at the same press night in Watford this week, while a fellow festgoer was chatting with Alexandra Spencer-Jones about A Clockwork Orange, which they have both recently directed. Theatre people are everywhere, and we’re all related through the stuff we make, the ways we think and the shows we see.

We’re the sort of people who would rather spend two hours in the dark watching trained adults play make-believe than binge-watch the latest show on Netflix. We’re the sort of people who would rather spend our weekends playing games with a group of strangers in a small space than make the most of a Sunday morning lie-in. And we’re the sort of people who would rather spend our holiday money on an action-packed week of early morning workshops and late-night debate in the bar than on a seven-night stay at a hotel in Ibiza. Of course we’re going to end up in the same places, because we all love the same things.

One of the best things I did last year at NSDF was chat to strangers, because that stranger might just be the key to your success. They might just happen to know someone who knows someone who you are desperate to work with. And perhaps, by starting a conversation with a stranger over a pint in the student union, you’ll just be lucky enough to meet your next collaborator. NSDF is the perfect opportunity to meet people and make those creative connections. So don’t hold back, start a conversation, and you’re guaranteed to find out you have more in common with everyone than you might think.

And maybe write down their name or add them on Facebook. It’ll be much less awkward that way when you see them next year. 


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