The tour kicked off very early for all of us! I believe I was in Steve Green’s car by about seven am along with Ami (Mrs Treves, Sister Ireland, Lady Knightley) and Zara (Costume and set designer). We were off! At this point the show felt miles away, thirteen hours and counting till curtain up at the Prema Arts Centre near Stroud.
Three hours later we arrived and it was very refreshing to be away from the hustle of London. Within half an hour of arriving, four horses and their riders passed the Arts Centre’s cafe, where we joined the rest of the cast sleepily drinking tea and coffee. The magical production team was upstairs in the studio getting everything ready for the show. It felt more real after seeing the space and we were all anxious and excited to get cracking in equal measure! But now we wait… We each take it in turns to sleep in the studios loading lift, look over notes and after my third coffee we were ready to begin tech.
The challenges we faced with this first space involved very tight wings. Therefore costume changes and entrances and exits became one of the main focuses for the day. A few minutes before the show and Daniel (Joseph Merrick) was present in his cage growling as the audience settled down and the rest of us were crammed into the wings buzzing with excitement. We were off and it felt so much better to be performing in front of an audience, the intimacy of the space really leant itself to the show and the audience fed off our energy and we fed off theirs!
So, first show down and as soon as the audience were out it was all hands on deck. The lights came down, the set dismantled and our costumes all folded into their respective bags. We then packed everything into the trailer (which is a bit like a game of Tetris) and with the irreplaceable Anthony (Production Manager) and Catherine (Stage Manager) in the front and us lot in the back we set off down the winding country roads to our hotel for the night.
As we were going up a particularly steep hill and just after one of us said “Imagine if we broke down!” We broke down.
We pushed the car off the road and called for help whilst Adam (Tuckett, Norman, Golby) serenaded us with his ukulele. It felt a bit like the start of a horror film. After we’d used up our supply of Percy Pigs Anthony called a taxi for us and we were taken the rest of the way to the hotel, all one hundred yards of it. Anthony and Catherine were still waiting for the tow truck so we had to leave them with the car, the following morning we learnt that they didn’t get to bed until 4am! We posthumously named the car ‘Idiot’.
After a few hours wandering around a service station we were off again and on our way to Devon! Anthony and Catherine in the front and us five crammed snugly into the back. We arrived at Woolacombe bay Holiday Park a few hours later, which to my surprise I actually visited with my family when I was a lot younger. Back then I would have never imagined I would be returning years later as an actor with a touring theatre company!
So, the five of us climbed into a static caravan, our home for the next five days. It had been a nightmarish few days but the view from our caravan window made up for that very quickly.
To be continued…