In a tearful meeting with Alison I was told that the laundry is closing. Tabula Rasa the theatre is homeless. Tabula Rasa is now just an inventory of equipment and a lot of good memories.
I came back from a month overseas last year and found Sanjin jittery with excitement; through Godfrey Johnson he had made contact with Marcus Hoepler, a German businessman with a space and a desire to fill it with something special.
The first tour of the building was strange – trying to figure out how to transform it from an ironing hall into a theatre. The practical side was to be my baby – and over the weeks leading up to our first show I was climbing up and around rafters laying electrical cable and curtain hooks. It was a challenge to create a setup that could unfold each night and disappear in the morning, but I was pleased with the results.
From the outset we knew that the economics were against us, that even if we had a full capacity every night we’d only get a return of R15 for each hour of our labour. That’s the mathematical reality behind independent productions and the reason why they tend to fail. But we carried on even knowing the grim facts. Maybe we love being creative, maybe we love being independent, maybe we’re just damn stubborn and a little crazy. I’m sure opinions differ. But it wasn’t the lack of money that got us in the end, it was bad luck.
The first trouble began when the 2 owners began to butt heads and tensions escalated until Alison and Marcus parted ways just last month. Yawazzi stayed out of the dispute as best it could, but everyone standing round the pool gets hit with cold water when someone takes a dive. And hot on its heels came the news that the Laundry would be evicted from the building.
Since November of last year we’ve done seven shows at Tabula Rasa. We had a lot of help from Daniel Galloway, Tink and Jon Minster and especially from my parents who loaned us a piano. Tabula Rasa means ‘blank slate’ and this reminds me that theatre can happen anywhere. So keep an eye on this space for a show on a boat, in a factory, a field, a ruin or on the back of a truck. Cheers, JK