Friday, 5 October 2012

Just one little word... no

Oh god, what's happening to me? I'm about to get all gushy. My life's a theatrical producing whirl and I feel like the boy with the best toys. I've got the best fiance in the world (not suggesting she's a toy by the way), who happens to be my business partner so business meetings are easy to arrange, and she's just brilliant, and together we've cooked up a mad idea for a cabaret club that everyone seems to love, and to top it all I've been ringing around all of my seriously talented performing friends and asking them if they would make this crazy idea work for a pittance, and to my joyous amazement they have all said yes, and although I'm tired, wired on coffee and couldn't sleep last night I'm on cloud nine. I told you it was gushy, that last sentence went on forever. It's OK, that effusive outpouring of positive emotions is over...... and rest.

In fact, this is the reason that I've not been blogging over the last few days but on Facebook I promised one today so as the sun sets on this rainy Friday I'm determined to deliver. You see Grisel and I have been busy securing a venue, and organising acts for a momentous event. Yes, it's the opening of our club. Yesterday we had a meeting with arts promoter Mickey Smith. He's a DJ, natural born clown (I'm sure he wouldn't mind me calling him that), friend to the stars of Jazz, and an all round top man. He seemed to love our idea and got very enthusiastic. What I love about Mickey is that in many ways he's a businessman, but with lots of heart. I imagine entrepreneurs to be hard and steely like Duncan Ballantine but Mickey is just.. well... warm and cuddly really. He's one of a group of people who saved an old factory in peckham called The Bussey Building and, in the space of a few years he's turned it into a vibrant, new and cutting edge arts venue with three spaces that are filled 5 nights a week. Southwark Council apparently had plans to level it and turn it into yet another Shopping Mall, something that the area can do without. Smarmy, sharp suited twenty somethings don't need yet another place in Peckham where they can persuade you to change your gas supplier, believe me.

Opening this club is also a strange turn around of events for me as well. I used to be the one desperately hunting for work, now I'm suddenly the hunted. This is a new state of affairs for me and I'm conscious that sometimes I'm getting the same needy bullshit thrown at me that I used to dish out to others. Is this Karma I wonder? I guess so. But it's not a bad thing as it does make me see it from both sides. It does, however, highlight another little quirk of my personality... my profound difficulty with the word 'no'. I've been involved in some very dubious artistic enterprises in the past just because... well... I was asked. To this end I've actually (and I'm serious here) asked Grisel to practice with me a series of hopefully truthful, but definitely polite ways of gently saying the word 'No'. I have to do this. I know that if I'm asked I may crumple and actually say yes to the whole world and consequently bankrupt the whole company. You see I have lots and lots of talented friends. By the way, if you were thinking of trying to exploit this weakness in my armour forget it. Thanks to Grisel I've now got all the answers. Maybe this is a plea to those I love. Please please bear with us, we're only small. Anyway, all of this is all exciting and maybe we can find a performing home for some of the great clowns, eccentric comics and character actors that I know and love. So our new performing home is The Bussey Building and Mickey has nurtured his part of of this local landmark with love that, I have to say, is infectious.  I hope we can inject this love into our little club as well.

The Royal National Theatre of Fools opens on Tuesday 4th December and will be on every first Tuesday of the month thereafter at The CLF Art Cafe (AKA the bussey building) in Peckham. We'd love to see you there.

For more details of the venue go to:

Mike Raffone is the co founder of the production company howhow along with his fiancĂ© Grisel Tarifa. They hope to open a new performance club The Royal National Theatre of Fools in Peckham in the winter.  It will be dedicated to the clown, the absurd and the eccentric. Mike is also busy writing his one man show, Clowns, Coulrophobia and Me for the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Go to for more info.

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