Standing There Productions is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our most valued supporters and friends - the whip-smart, funny, generous and loyal Nicol Beechey.

 I met Nicol Beechey when some of us started a theatre company at  Melbourne University as part of Union House Theatre (although then, in ancient times, it was called the Theatre Department). Nic was the head technician whose job it was to make sure theatre shows were properly planned and managed to standards that ensured safety and efficiency. As a result, many people who worked in the theatre were terrified of her.

 We went to her for help setting things up. She gave us pages of notes, told us a thousand things that could go wrong, told us to communicate with each other and with as many helpful people as possible, and told us that managing expectations was a major part of producing a theatre show on the smell of an oily rag. She taught me a few more things over the years including:

 - If you're serving alcohol at an event, serve twice as much food as you otherwise would. People will have more fun if there's free food than they will if there's heaps of alcohol and not enough food. If you don't have the budget, halve the booze budget. It's worth it. 

 - Profit share (a method of making theatre where the cast and crew agree to work for nothing and share whatever the profit might be) is the least satisfying means of payment since slavery. There is no way everybody can walk away satisfied (see above, expectation management). It leads to arguments and presumptions and interpretations and disappointments and it's also lazy budgeting. You can do better than that. 

 - Tape it down. When Nicol came to see Greatness Thrust Upon Them, our show in the 2008 Melbourne Comedy Festival, she noticed I hadn't taped down the boxes that were on stage the whole time. I told her what I didn't like about the look of taping them down and she told me a way to fix it that fitted in with the creative problems I had with her practical suggestion. She said: it's the problems you don't anticipate that you're trying to anticipate.

 - The theatre experience is about the entire experience. From the difficulty your audience has parking their cars to how comfortable your seats are. It's worth thinking about, so if you don't have time to think about it, you should get help. Fudging it will fool nobody.

 Nicol Beechey's ethos - a no-nonsense aversion to shortcuts and to not thinking things through, while projecting an ethical and concise vision of what our company is - very much shaped The Really Useless Theatre Company and Standing There Productions. Several of us met thanks to Nicol Beechey and I personally wished I could more often get her into a room to frown at my short-sighted guestimations, roll her eyes with a wry smile upon hearing my excuses, and then sit down with me to figure out the problem and get the giggles about how I thought I could possibly get away with what I was originally proposing.

 Nicol met with me regularly over the years and with the rest of the Standing There team to brainstorm the problems that face a small company like ours whose success she had nothing to gain from but to whom she offered ongoing support and critique, often on this page. She came to our shows, wrote me emails in response to my entries on this website (she was furious once when she thought I had backhanded Laurie Anderson) and she emailed and called me frequently from Queensland, where she moved into a job working "with Shrek and Superwoman" at Warner Brothers Movie World.

 Personally, I had the privilege of knowing Nicol as a friend as well as a theatre genius. Beyond her competent can-do approach, she was warmly encouraging, loving, soft-hearted, and gorgeously funny. I placed Nicol pretty high up on my "List of People To Thank When You Win". I'm not sure what it is I was hoping to win (something televised internationally, obviously, where my speech was played off by an orchestra) but this is as good a place as any: special thanks to Nicol Beechey for all she's done for Standing There Productions and for her friendship and for making me flinch every time I see something on a stage that isn't taped down.

 Nicol Beechey was generous and wise and funny and creative and Standing There Productions has been so lucky to have been the beneficiary of her guiding hand. She will be dearly missed.