Last week, I was working in Birmingham, so I took the opportunity to see the TV writer John Osborne in Wolverhampton. The Arena Theatre wasn’t busy when I entered, but I didn’t expect to be one of just two people in the audience.
It must have felt frustrating for Osborne, especially as he plans to take the show on tour, but he didn’t let it show as he took the microphone. He was there to promote his book No-One Cares about Your New Thing.
And what a performance it was, with the first half devoted to poems and the second filled with a personal humorous story centred around his late grandfather’s collection of old Radio Times magazines.
At the end, he offered us both a complimentary copy of the book, though I did pay for mine; I’d planned to buy one from the moment I heard the first poem.
I’ve also had experiences where there’s far less of an audience than I expected. There’s nothing else to do but make the best of the situation.
At one meet-up of Hotchpotch a couple of years ago, there was me plus five attendees, far removed from the dozens we attract today. Since it was a mild summer night, we decided to head into the beer garden and hold an open-air event.
Incidentally, it seems that the Arena Theatre holds a similar open-mike event called PASTA, short for Poets and Storytellers Assemble. Unfortunately, I’m not going to make it to their upcoming events, although I might manage to see the poet Jess Green in March.