This old theatre poster has some relevance, but before the relevance comes some pondering. I’ve had a busy two days attending actual meetings, with real people, in indoor spaces. I’ve achieved in two days what I could never have achieved in a month of zooming.
The meetings were not held in committee rooms or other closed off spaces. By coincidence, both days were spent in large old industrial spaces that have been converted into co-working areas. So a bit like the above poster, a big space with lots of people doing their own thing in their own box, be it virtual, plugged into a computer or real world isolation of sitting at separate tables.
At the beginning of the working week I had one thing to achieve and had I been zooming I like to think that one thing could have been successfully achieved. In co-working spaces, though, going about your business is not a shut off activity, people walk past you. Maybe they slightly recognise you. There is a nod or a smile, or even a brief introduction. This week I have found that one succesful meeting led to two more informal but equally significant meeting of minds. Because of the one planned and succesful meeting I had to arrange another meeting in a different shared space again succesful and again leading to another unplanned and very interesting interaction. Two days of really positive collaborative thought quite blew my mind. After the last interaction I stepped across the road and took shelter under an old theatre canopy while I gathered my thoughts. Which brings us, in a roundabout way to the poster.
The Palace Theatre in Plymouth was the last place Laurel and Hardy performed on stage together, as top of the bill variety artists. On May 17th 1954 Oliver Hardy had a heart attack during their performance of Birds of a Feather. This brass plaque, of one of the shows posters, marks this seminal moment in the careers of the two men. There is no explanation anywhere near the plaque. Dr Google filled in the gaps. The sketch was cut short and Hardy spent the rest of their time in Plymouth recuperating in a local hotel. For the remainder of the run Stan Laurel collaborated with and supported the other entertainers who were performing in the show. The last ever performances, on stage, of a very famous entertainer were spent supporting other people on a stage in the theatre where I was sheltering. A very uplifting thought after two days of good outcomes from collaborative work. A real post- covid moment.