The Afternoon of the Storm

Gillian Hanna:

‘During the afternoon of August 14th 1975, a freak rainstorm hit a very small area of North London. For three hours it poured down. Hundreds of people were left homeless as their basement flats were flooded, and in Gospel Oak, dinghies and rowing boats were being used to rescue the stranded. August 14th also happened to be the afternoon when a handful of disaffected and fed up actresses and musicians were supposed to be getting together to talk about setting up some kind of music theatre company. The meeting was in Gospel Oak. As the water level rose, and the one or two who had arrived before the storm really got going had to help and try and clear the blocked drain in the garden – to stop the water pouring in under the back door – we decided that this was one of those great ideas that had been rained off. No such thing. During the later afternoon and into the early evening, one by one, they all appeared: bedraggled and soaking wet, but they appeared. As we noted with glee, it seemed to be a wonderfully auspicious omen. It took us another eight months to get the company on its feet. Some of that original group left and others arrived before we opened the first production, but in the mythology of the company, The Afternoon of the Storm has always been the Beginning of the Monstrous Regiment.’

Taken from her book Monstrous Regiment (Nick Hern Books1991) reproduced by kind permission of Nick Hern Books, Chris Bowler, Gillian Hanna and Mary McCusker.

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