EMERGEncy: Assessment of Risk

“I need to do a risk assessment for Reasons.” I announce during our weekly meeting.

I am announcing this, rather than just doing it, because I am a little bamboozled by the task.

A risk assessment for a show isn’t a particularly unusual request. Indeed I once exchanged approximately 74 emails, had three phone conversations, spent eight hours writing risk assessments and had a meeting with the Edinburgh Fire Brigade for an EdFringe show which, for approximately five seconds, had A FLAME in it. As it was, the fire was fine; it was a performer tripping over a (risk assessed) discarded prop that landed us in A&E.

But with Reasons – which, at its base state, consists of one man standing still, telling you a story with the use of some flashcards – the only notable risk is that Andy might give himself a papercut. If I am to start a precedent for risk assessing the possibility of paper cuts for members of WBN then I fear I shall never again have the time to actually be involved in making any theatre.

The meeting turns to what I might put on the risk assessment instead.

“That a small child might put one of the happiness cards up their nose?”

(People at risk: audience. Likelihood: remote. Severity: minor.)

“That Andy might keep in the use of the word ‘fuck’ when there is a child in the room?”

(People at risk: audience. Likelihood: possible. Severity: minor.)

“That…well, yes – the papercut thing.”

(People at risk: performer. Likelihood: possible. Severity: whilst not underselling a papercut, minor)

It is no good, neither Estelle nor Charlie can come up with any plausible risks either. We have made a show where the main risk is getting an audience to commit to having one man tell them a story without the use of any theatrical wizardry other than some flashcards and a drawing Andy did back in 2012, for thirty minutes.

“I’ll…write some words…” I concede. “Now, if this were Blueprint…”

We laugh the sort of laugh that only arises with the knowledge that at some point in the not too distant future someone will ask for a risk assessment for Blueprint and compiling it will make us all cry.

24 hours later I’m assembling the Blueprint props from where I had, with the kind of foresight that probably deserves some kind of chocolate related reward, packaged, separated and labelled post our Bike Shed residency. I realise, just after I’ve pushed the box back in, that I’m missing the stopwatch. No bother, I’ll just lean in and get it out –

My forehead collides with the metal underside of the table.

There’s the flash of embarrassment that I have just headbutted a table in an open plan office and that people might have seen me do this. This quickly subsides though; it hurts too much for me to manage embarrassment as well as pain.

I sit still waiting for everything to stop spinning.

And then, to no one in particular:

“Well, I didn’t risk assess this, did I?”


EMERGEncy: Adventures in Furniture Removal

“I think I want to cry.”

It’s as good as any reaction to the situation in front of us. I’ve spent the last 24 hours in a combination of packing, clearing and lifting. The day has already included a 15 minute riff on the episode in Friends where Ross attempts to “pivot” his sofa up the staircase of his apartment block, only played out with a bookcase that was too large for the lift. Now 70% of the tangible assets of WBN are piled up in the car park of our new office, arranged between a fire escape and a £50,000 car. I am not sure which I am most terrified of: that I shall hit the car with a piece of the MDF I have insisted on us keeping despite the fact that it wasn’t ours in the first place and has no discernible current use, or that we are going to have to carry all of the stuff in front of us up the fire escape.

“Let’s get the worst bit done first.” Charlie suggests.

By ‘worst bit’ I immediately know he means the second bookcase. I say nothing, something which is my life tactic for trying to avoid doing stuff I don’t want to do but know I eventually will have to.

“It’ll be easier once we’ve done that.”

Logically Charlie is correct, the second bookcase is the last piece of furniture which needs carrying up multiple flights of stairs. Once we’re past that we’re back to the MDF, tea and coffee making implements and assorted hats which come with the territory of being a theatre company.

Illogically though, I just don’t want to do it.

However, I think I signed away my right to use that excuse for WBN things at the same time that I entered into the contract, otherwise known as forming a limited company, to do what is right for WBN and not what is right for me.

“Okay. But  – I’m not going backwards up the stairs.” This, it would appear, is as much dignity that I can scrape from the situation.

We’re mid-way up the fire escape before I’ve had time to re-think.

“I’ve just realised -” Charlie says “If I lost my footing now you’d probably fall all the way down the fire escape.”

I stop.



EMERGEncy is WBN’s new weekly look at the day-to-day life of a theatre company (of the ’emerging’ variety).