Our first ever six monthly report came in last month.
In it we learned that BIT has let at least 10,000 people through its doors for shows, classes and the like since opening in March. Meanwhile a thousand other things have happened: we've gained an UP, we've started a cocktail menu, we've signed a laundry contract.
A laundry contract. A contract for laundry.
If the last six months have taught us anything, it's how how dreadfully unprepared we were for the huge building shaped smackdown that was heading for us. Of course, the rapid growth as we rush to fill a venue that might have been a touch larger than was good for us has not been without issues. From the water-mains to scheduling, something is always kicking our asses. Back in The Office (Bristol series) the only thing achieved without issue or debate so far is the coffee machine. It's been a gleaming, onyx beacon of hope. A dark lighthouse that repeatedly guides us in from the choppy, icy waters of The Sea of Poor Communication.
We love that machine.
Fortunately during this caffeine-haze we have not been without wise counsel. Tim Newman and Rob Egginton, two members of the Bristol Improv Community, both volunteered their services and helped us find our feet as a professional organisation. I am pleased to report that at one of our recent events, Tim glided up to tell me that the theatre now "appears to be solvent". I can honestly say never has such a relieving phrase been delivered so mildly.
We've had practical advice from people like Stephen Watters and Steve Garrett, whose counsel has steered us away from hidden business rocks. We've had life advice from people like Imogen Palmer and Charlie Markwick who give great coffee-based chat. Often, as in the cases of Kareem Badr (of the Hideout Theatre, Texas) or Hoopla's Steve Roe it's been a chance just to reach out, make a connections and say, hey so this funny thing happened… are we going insane? No? Awesome.
As things begin to settle into a routine we are taking stock and discovering that we've spent quite a lot of the last eight months clinging on for dear life. If this was the TV series LOST we'd have just got to the part past the opening where everyone is screaming and shouting and doing CPR and now we're all huddled under a tree away from the wreckage while someone attempts to start a fire and count out how many toilet rolls survived the impact.
Despite our best efforts however, the BIT still opens its doors and looks likely to continue to do so for a good while into the future. Now our aim is to ensure that the community continues to work, co-ordinate our actions, give advice and ask for help. As the amount of shows, nights, groups and classes in Bristol reaches a point where people are forced to choose between options on a given evening, hopefully we will all remember to celebrate this new age of improv multiplicity rather than fall into competitive tribes. Projects like the fantastic new Backline group shows that once again, the improv community is way out ahead of us.
So here's to the next six months and everything it contains: Christmas, New Year, the new BIT's first birthday and of course the Improv Marathon!
Ready? Let's grow!