There's a quote I've used a couple of times in the past, for example after the Boston Marathon bombing, by a chap called Fred Rogers. Fred was the avuncular host of "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood", a children's show on PBS in the US which gave gentle lessons on kindness, helpfulness and friendship.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Last night, amongst those helpers were my friends and my colleagues.
As soon as news reached the surrounding theatres about what had happened, anybody who was First Aid trained, whether they were Front of House staff, crew, dressers or any other of the many departments that make a show happen, grabbed first aid supplies and headed out the door. Whilst the Apollo audience streamed out into the street, theatre staff were headed in the other direction, to a potentially unsafe building with the only thought of helping other people. There was no "That's not my building". No "I don't work for that company". No "I don't get paid enough for that". Wounds were treated, foil blankets distributed, and acting under the instructions of the emergency services, makeshift triage centres were set up in theatre foyers. One of the dressers helped a couple of girls and then gave them some money to get home.
I started working in West End Theatre back in 1989, whilst still at college. A fellow student asked me a few months later what the attraction was, and I replied that the amazing thing about theatreland was that it turned such a massive city into a small village. A community where everyone either knew, or knew of each other. Where everyone knows everyone else's business. At times, that can be a pain in the arse, but in times of need everyone has each other's back, and help will always be given in moments of crisis. The Show Must Go On, as they say.
Nowhere was this more evident than last night, and I've seldom been so proud to be part of this little village.
Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts and not those of any professional theatre company, theatre owner or production. No reproduction without written consent.