Last week saw the Filskit ladies and friends pack up the Nissan Micra for the second time in two months to head off to another Fringe Festival, this time to the Pulse Fringe at the New Wolsey in Ipswich.
When we arrived at the theatre we were fuelled up on tea and ready to go (despite the 5.30am wakeup call). As many festival goers will appreciate, we had a crazy day ahead of us: a three hour tech from 8am straight into the first performance at 11am, followed by a second performance at 1:30pm, pack up and then home. We thought we were prepared for everything; we had successfully located the nearest kettle, had sandwiches for the break and a sewing kit for any costume malfunctions. However, smack bang in the middle of our tech rehearsal we were halted by an unforeseen problem – something that none of us had anticipated. Somewhat inconveniently, our mini projector (‘Lumie’ as we call him – yes, it’s a he) was struck down in his prime, refusing to even switch on, let alone project anything.
For a company which prides itself on itsvisual style and, dare we say, ‘innovative’ use of micro projection, this was a big problem. Projection is a large part of the piece – it helps to move the narrative along and create worlds. There are even whole characters who communicate entirely via projected video message. As far as we were all concerned it was a disaster. Needless to say much panic and swearing ensued (apologies to any Pulse staff out there who think we are incredibly foul mouthed). However, after the initial waves of panic and wanting to vomit had subsided we managed to take a step back and look at things a little more objectively. Time was not on our side and with a paying public audience on their way and no contingency plan, we just had to come up with a solution, or as they say “the show must go on”. Which we are pleased to say… it did!
In hindsight, it’s moments like this that really highlight the benefits of being a devising theatre company. As we had devised the whole piece from scratch including designing, directing and shooting all projected videos, we were flexible enough to be able to make changes and adapt our show to overcome our technical problems. Both shows went ahead and we even received a lovely four star review from The Public Reviews.
For us, this whole experience gave us the reassurance that we have created a well-rounded piece that can stand up on its own, even when our gadgets fail us – which is exactly what we set out to do. On a personal level we can think back to our final year at drama school when a tiny error like a missing prop would have tipped us over the edge – and thank goodness we have chilled out since then.
So, we think the moral of our Filskit tale is: no matter how prepared you think you are, you can’t possibly second guess every single potential problem when it comes to performance. The best you can do is know your work well enough and have the confidence that it will go on regardless.
We are, however, in the market for some more reliable technology – just in case!