Venue Open Space – Lunch!

Food! Suddenly, this whole event takes on the air of something unique – and not just because there’s the promise of appetites being met. It’s three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and there are thirty-odd people sitting on the Main House stage eating lunch. This has almost certainly never happened before: a banquet where the likes of Peter O’Toole have trod. Not to mention the rest of them. There’s a sense of catching up: what have we missed? “It’s like ‘Festen’,” suggests someone scurrilously. It isn’t. But then how often have food and theatre come together? Are we eating or acting like we’re eating because we’re on a stage that, only recently, has been home to ‘The Misanthrope’? Just to confuse matters further, there are Tweet moments while photos are taken and dispatched into the cyber world. Is Venue reviewing a performance or a restaurant? As it happens, Venue isn’t reviewing anything, it’s just having another glass of wine…

When someone else points out that it might be better if our beloved coalition government behave according to the principles of Open Space, it’s hard not to feel like this might just be one of those picnics which occurred in the woods on the frontline between France and Germany on the eve of the First World War. Balls to that. Eating lunch on the stage of the Old Vic on Sunday is so perfectly bizarre, it’s bizarrely perfect. It also seems to epitomise everything that an Open Space event stands for: a sense of possibility and creativity. The homemade coconut milk bread goes round.

Minutes later, with noodles, soup, fruit and ice-cream done, we’re up a flight of stairs and in the kitchen. As some wag’s posted on the Open Space open wall, there’s an afternoon session in ‘improvised washing up’. For the first time in history you could possibly have witnessed the artistic director of Bristol Old Vic up to his elbows in sloshy suds while Venue does the drying up.

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