After thousands of us came to see the new Everyman lighting up for the first time last night, today we were all invited back to come inside for the housewarming. And it seemed like the entire city took up the invitation. Because pretty much everyone loves The Everyman.
Which must have made today a nervy day for everyone running the new place. Because it is totally new. Fair enough, 25,000 of the old Hope Hall bricks from the original building have been re-used but not a scrap of the old structure remains. Except in the heads of all of us who turned up in Hope Street today.
So loads of first dates, loads of getting the new band going, loads of best thing I’ve ever seen, loads of that night we sat in The Ev and decided to change our lives. All of this walked up to the new doors of the new place today, every one of us looking for a sense of home in a building we’d never been in before.
So yes, a nervy day for the new Ev.
My particular Ev was always and mostly the Bistro, from when my friend Tricia Lively from the City Housing Department first brought me to a tiny starter version of the Bistro back in 1973, to all those times with Sarah dreaming up what we’d do in ‘a sense of place’. So as soon as I get inside I want to see the new Bistro.
Obviously it will take strenuous testing out, which I’m more than prepared to do. But without it particularly looking like the old Bistro it does have a similar feel. Dark, sparkly, homely, privately public, and a space for one and all to accidentally meet. Too full today to even get a seat, I’m looking forward to quiet times and other times in what looks like a beautiful space. It’s even got a section that can be closed off and used for parties and poetry like the old Ev ‘Third Room.’ It’s called ‘EV3’ – of course.
At street level is something new. Though previously you could get soup and rolls and hummus and cheese up here at lunch times, mostly we’d prefer the Bistro for a fuller choice. Now there’s the Street Café.
And yes, for the curious, this is the only place in the new Everyman where there’ll be a significant display of food. Much as many of us loved the bazaar feel of the old Bistro food display that hasn’t made it through to the design of the new place. Something we’ll have to get used to, because it’s a new place, with new people, with new ideas.
And this feels great. Who’d have thought it? An Ev with daylight!
And oh yes.
Which is no doubt much better equipped and has much better dressing rooms than the poky little things we all saw behind the old theatre the day it closed.
And though I couldn’t get a seat in the Bistro today, there are seats in all sorts of little corners here. Like there are, if you think about it, in all truly great buildings.
I didn’t attempt to go into all the spaces today – other performance space, rooms you can hire – as I just wanted to scout out an overall feel of the place. But there one space I must show you before finishing this initial tour.
While I’m in here a little girl and her brother pick up 2 copies of a play, decide who’ll be who, and start reading it out. Next thing you know they’ll be in here writing their own. What simple and brilliant idea.
I stay enjoying getting the feel of this new gift until it’s nearly time for it to end its Housewarming day. So I’m there to see the people of the place quietly congratulating each other that it’s all gone so well so far. As I said, this must have been a nervy day for them.
Of course I didn’t eat anything or drink anything, let alone see a play. But I had a good look around, and it’s looking good.
Then, on the way out, Paul Corcoran from Agent Marketing, who are working with the new Everyman, stopped me to ask me what I thought.
So then, from 8:30 in the morning The Everyman is open. And next Saturday, 8th March, it’s first production opens, ‘Twelfth Night.’
And as a friend, Alison Down, said on Twitter last night, quoting Shakespeare and talking about our new Everyman – ‘Be not afraid of greatness.’ Go well, all of you.