“Prepare for tomorrow, lights off, set the alarm …”

Last day, last shows, last blog. Yesterday (Sunday) saw last minute shots being filmed before and during our final performances, and some audio was even recorded for our appearance on Radio 4’s You and Yours this Thursday.  So it’s end of the run of our show, but of course the discussion of the state of the business of corner shops continues.

Last warm up

Warming up before the last show

There was a lot of mention of ‘lasts’ yesterday. “This is the last time we’ll warm up together” “Last time we’ll open these suitcases” “Last time you’ll reset that fruit and veg”. And there was the inevitable pre-last show buzz of energy when you see your last opportunity to give it your all, stretching out ahead of you.

The company gathered on set after the final performance to toast The Corner Shop and it’s successes.

To The Corner Shop

Post show toast!

It was strange seeing everyone gathered in one place. The shop unit has always been full of people, but over the past few weeks we’ve been scattered about the place in different rooms, building, making, rehearsing, directing, thinking, writing, talking. And there we were, all together on the street. The scale of the company was immense really – stewards, performers, designers, directors, musicians, producers, administrators, project managers.

Mick kicks back

And many of the team were back in the shop bright and early this morning

Cleaning up

The clean up begins

to get stuck into the two day get out that lies ahead. It’s a huge job. Somehow, a street, two general grocery shops, a sweet shop, a Caribbean food store, a living room and a dining room have all got to fit into Foursight’s warehouse storage space. To say that Frances looked daunted last night as she sized up the towering ‘brick’ walls on wheels, I would say would be an understatement.

At the end of the run last year, people were saying ‘you should do it again, more people should see this’. So we did it again and more people have seen it. This year, people have been saying ‘this needs to tour, more people should see this’. I wonder how soon it will be before we can say that The Corner Shop is coming to a shopping centre near you.

I took a bit of time to really look at our exhibition during this last week and I spent a long time reading the material that was produced for it, and the quotes taken from the initial research interviews. So much of our script used direct and very poignant quotes taken from those interviews. At the end of each performance, the character of Pearl tells the audience that running a corner shop “didn’t feel like work, it felt like life”. It’s amazing to think that a shopkeeper chose to say those words and really meant them. Now you don’t get that in a big supermarket.

Another section of the exhibition looks at the future of corner shops…

Exhibition

Exhibition image

There is a limited time in the business that I do, specifically grocers…I would say a minimum five years and a maximum twelve years, you won’t see a grocers, a butchers and it will be like a domino effect, the newsagents will go, the pharmacy will go…” Robert Evans of Bob Evans & Sons, West Bromwich

We’re all human. We mostly want an easy life. To hop in the car and jet off down to the supermarket, to grab everything that we need in one fell swoop. Or do we? One audience member told us that after watching a performance of The Corner Shop, they felt compelled “to shop more in the local corner shop”. I can’t help thinking it’s a lucky thing that committed corner shop owners are prepared to, as one owner told us, “open until 10pm or until the customers stop coming…” I’ve got a shop just like that round the corner from my house.

Anyway, all this thinking and writing and blogging has got me gasping for a cuppa. But I’m out of milk. Now where am I going to get a pint of milk from, at this unsociable hour? I know just the place…

"Don't see the front door from the moment we open to the moment we close"

Rochi Rampal

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2 Responses to ““Prepare for tomorrow, lights off, set the alarm …””

  1. keith bojczuk Says:

    Rochi , Many thanks for a fantastic job keeping us up to date with the blog.
    It was great to work with all the team. Best wishes for the future.
    Keith.

  2. Michelle Knight Says:

    Rochi,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog over the last month or so; thanks for bringing the project to life so thoughtfully and eloquently.
    Chelle x

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