I'm currently spending most of my walks to work, and bus journeys into town, talking to myself. I'm telling myself the stories from The Lad Lit Project, which I am performing in Leicester next week. This isn't really a revival, as The Lad it Project is still officially in repertoire. But this is the longest lay-off I've ever had since performing a show. Lad Lithere). toured fairly regularly for four years, but it's three and a half years since it went to the Pazz Festival (there's a short documentary/interview about that,
What I always find interesting about reviving a show in this way, is how much of it comes back between the first and second runs of the material – without needing to refer back to the text or a video. Running the show to myself over several walks to work, there are many gaps – whole sections, paragraphs, turns of phrase – in my recall of it. But I've learned now not to get the text out at this stage. I start at the beginning again, and many of the gaps fill themselves, just through having been identified, it seems.
This time, even after such a break (I have performed Lad Lit many times, though) the stories were all there. It was the numbers that were missing, the statistics and measurements. Also missing was the detail of the stuff that's “about me”, but according to other people: various analyses of my personality through blood-profiling, starsign, handwriting analysis, and so on. But even that's all come back pretty quickly after one read-through. For a show that wonders where, in the matter of our bodies, our memories reside, this all feels appropriate.
I'm looking forward to performing the piece again – the show still means a lot to me, and I'm remembering that I find these collected stories both funny and moving (and I'm remembering that audiences do, too, fortunately). I'm enjoying the tweaks and updates that the show now requires. The Lad Lit Project is a show that thinks of peoples' lives as being broken up into chapters, and so a three and a half years gap inevitably means that there are a few important developments to reflect.
One thing I'm particularly excited about is that the venue for the show is a pub. The last UK performance of Lad Lit had a very nice pub nearby, but this time it's actually in a pub – The Crumblin' Cookie in Leicester, as part of a great new project by Hannah Nicklin called, straightforwardly, Performance in the Pub. For a show that was praised for, and sold on, the way if often feels like a chat in the pub, and indeed, starts off pretty much with a paean to the glory of the Great British Public House, it's perhaps surprising that this hasn't happened before.
And the biggest challenge of returning to this piece? Well, one of the lines in the text states that I tell “a topical football joke, that is only funny to people who know a lot about football.” I've kind of lost most of my interest in the overpaid activities of the Premiership in the last couple of years – so this is going to take a bit more research – or suggestions? Feel free to comment below.