At the start of our story of two men and a theatre, there were three of us. And to underestimate the importance of the third wheel on our tricycle is foolish.
We’d been a theatre company when we started, putting on new but fairly traditional plays in fairly untraditional spaces. I’d direct them, Fin would produce them and Debbie Bucella would do the marketing. Then, when the space went from being pop-up to permanent, the commitments escalated and three became two. But not before Debbie had got us sold out performances in our first week, coverage and reviews in The Guardian, a visit from Secretary of State for Culture Ben Bradshaw and features in newspapers and magazines heralding our ‘electrifying’ effect on the city’s cultural scene.
Before we’d begun, Debbie was telling the story. It was only later that we began to fulfil the promise that she was predicting in her press releases. She also worked tirelessly, running the box office, working behind the bar, distributing flyers across the city. Unlike Fin and me, she also had a full-time job.
She was instrumental in accelerating the Bike Shed’s ascent and, like so many marketeers, her impact is easy to overlook, as when an actor performing in Beanfield wondered aloud as to how her photo was in a magazine in Bristol, where our production had transferred.
“The journalists must have got that from the photographer’s website” she decided.
Behind the scenes, quietly and unnoticed, the hand of the expert marketeer.
Debbie continues to support the Bike Shed, seeing most shows and occasionally being roped in to help on box office or front of house. She’s housed performers in her spare room on countless occasions. Her generosity is legendary.
Less well known is her creativity. She’s an effortlessly brilliant cook, she knits and she sews. In January this year, Debbie went into a development room with her friend, the digital storyteller Lisa Jones, and started work on her first piece of theatre. Bravely autobiographical, it may get shown next year. Those who’ve ever performed their own work, and those who know her, will know the courage that takes.