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Bar Tape: 1/3:

Let me start by saying that this is being written for as much our audience’s benefit as it is for mine. I’m going through the reflective process for Bar Tape at the moment and I figured there would be no harm in writing part of that process down on our blog for people to engage with in some way. Maybe I’ll try and add a comments section to the post so you can tell us what you thought of the project if you’ve seen it already. Please don’t expect my finest writing here. I am reflecting.

Bar Tape. Rocket Box’s latest project. It began life in the early autumn of 2022, or even before that after I bought a 1976 Carlton racing bike on eBay for a sweet £25 during the second lockdown. It was in bad condition, so I stripped it of all components, cleaned, shined, replaced, removed paint and gave it a new lease of life with a clean red and blue flex paint job, yellow brake cable and 1978 Bennotto handle bar tape. I loved the look of it. It certainly wasn’t finished but I loved it. I loved the bar tape especially. I sadly didn’t have the money to complete the bike to the standard that would have liked, for anyone in the bike world will know that it’s not a cheap hobby.

Fast forward to the Autumn of 2022, a project that we had been planning for 2023 fell through and with the mixture of working a job I wasn’t enjoying, a heavy sense of failure but still a deep desire to make some kind of live creative work I started working on a new play. The idea was to write, direct and perform in a tiny scale project that would be funded by myself and have no props other than my beloved bike, take the show to small venues around Cornwall. Simple. I started writing and much like this blog post, I found it bloody difficult. November saw a couple of changes around the project, one was personal, the other was in the form of a small amount of funding that we received from a Plymouth based organisation. They told us we could use the money any way we wanted. Interesting. I split the funding into three parts; 1.) To develop our previous online project Gentle Things by Rach Horner into a live show. 2.) develop Bar Tape into a slightly larger scale project. 3.) invest in kit for a third project but would also benefit the previous two project ideas. This small amount of funding also gave us confidence to start writing an Arts Council England (ACE) application - of which we had failed getting funding from on several occasions. Putting the shocking first draft of Bar Tape to one side to focus on writing the eventually successful ACE application and creative work for Gentle Things it wasn’t until September 2023 until I carried on working on Bar Tape. Rework the script in a big way (basically deleted it all and started again a few times) whilst also working on an ACE application. This part of the process I think was the most painful and maybe this part will always be the hardest - working on something that could mean so much with the deep uncertainty that it could ever be funded. A close friend, Robi Mitch was happy to be part of the project and would create music for Bar Tape. I sent him a couple of sound tracks that I had been listening to whilst I wrote the play, Tour de France by Kraftwerk and the Past Lives soundtrack by Christopher Bear and Daniel Rossen.

Yet again, we were very fortunate and were granted the funding we applied for from ACE. I have to thank Jas Cole for helping with both projects in such a generous way. It was all getting very real, Ross was penciled in for the design, Robi was penciled in for music. I was confident we were all going to work well together and create a piece of theatre we’d all love to be part of. Unfortunately, when the exciting news came in that we would be getting the funding from ACE, Ross broke his news that he wouldn’t be able to make the rehearsal dates but only a few of the venue dates. (Bath and Penzance included). As soon as I heard this news, I went cyber, jumped on the net and put some adverts out for local artists. We were fortunate. Melanie (a dancer and choreographer), Amber (an actor), and Roisin (director), would all be joining us in the rehearsal room to help put the piece together. Three weeks of rehearsals were about to start, three brand new collaborators on board and almost a finished script!


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