A behind the scenes look at Theatre Royal Plymouth‘s Our Space project from three different perspectives. In Blog 3 Big Issue vendor, member of Project X and Our Space Steering Committee member, Clive Rowe, tells us his story.
Clive is a member of Project X and sits on the Our Space Steering Committee. Clive’s relationship with the Theatre Royal Plymouth is intimately bound up in his work as a Big Issue vendor, as his pitch is right outside the Theatre.
How it began
I got a free ticket to a show on a Friday night in the summer that they’d given to the Big Issue Office for homeless people, as a gesture. I didn’t know how I was going to react to it, I thought I’d have to sit by the door and run out but I watched it and I enjoyed it. I was invited afterwards to talk to the cast but thought “no way!”
Then I saw in the newspaper the next day that the show I saw was done by people who were just like me, you know, with problems, addictions, mental health. And I thought “Oh right, this could be my cup of tea. I want some of this.” From there on, I plotted, and within a few weeks I got myself a pitch outside the theatre just to get closer to what was happening. By the September I was attending the Our Space morning group.
I’m bi-polar and I was psychotic at the time, I was in a real bad state, it doesn’t show to people on the surface when I’m selling the Big Issue because I’m very professional. It’s a bit like a swan; on the surface I look really calm but underneath I’m flapping about and dying on the inside.
This will be my fourth Christmas on the theatre pitch, it’s a big deal, as it’s a big pitch. But I’ve got the confidence now from doing Our Space. I know I can stand and talk well. I was barely speaking at all when I first joined, you’d be lucky to hear me say “I’m Clive and I’m feeling shit” and that’s all the Our Space team could get out of me for a good couple of months.
It’s a bit like my lifeboat. Any time I’m not feeling very well, I just think pitch up at the theatre, think theatre, and the nasty thoughts drift away.
It’s safe there. I’ve got a base of friends there, I am welcome outside the door and inside, I can go there any hour I like, theatre is my life now. I’m going in that one direction and I’m sticking with it. I just want to do my best so that I can be the best at what I’m doing now and that’s ‘cos of the theatre.
Joining Project X
Last year I joined Project X and did my first performance Words Like Kites. Since then I auditioned and got a part in the People’s Company show CITIZEN and performed in The Drum theatre. I also got accepted on to the Performing Arts course at Plymouth City College, which I started in September and now Project X are working on our next show Underbelly which I am really excited about.
Joining the Our Space Steering Committee
It’s a chance for Our Space members to have a say in the future of the next four years of funding and basically how the project goes forward. It’s changing me! In a good way! I’m always coming up with ideas; ideas that are on the right track. In September I represented the project, along with Jason (another Project X member) and Sara (Engagement Manager) at the Recovery and the Arts conference in Liverpool. It was great getting up and speaking about the project, my experiences and what I have achieved.
Clive Rowe, member of Project X and the Our Space Steering Committee
Clive in Words Like Kites. Photo © John Allen