September 21, 2014

Cheeky Bit of Touring

Its Adam here, I’ve come out of retirement to write a blog. Hope you enjoy.

In the wake of the Edinburgh festival and the experience still fresh in my mind, I embarked on the other side of the coin to getting your work seen, and that is rural touring. And by that I mean a tour of the greater North-with-an-exception-of-the-occasional-date-in-the-south.
So far after the festival I have visited a few venues and have been encouraged, but also slightly unhinged by them.

It’s hit and miss, and please excuse the lame description. Sometimes you know its going to be a good day, and others you know its going to be bad with just little things that unnerve you; low ticket sales? Late arrival for the tech? The space isn’t how you imagined? Though some of these are in you’re control.

Sometimes you have to make compromises, and that should be expected. Each venue is different, they’re not always specifically a theatre, some are town halls, community centres which inhabit many other events, not specifically the arts. Their ideals of how things are run can be very different. Simply, things such as offering you a cup of tea on arrival, or even having time to greet you.
Don’t be disheartened by this, crack on. Bitch and vent quietly, yes, if it makes you feel better but everyone has agendas and while yours may be to make this show as good as it can be, others will be, simply, to just go home.

We had a fantastic time at The Customs House, the people in the building were welcoming, there was a little stand in the foyer with information and pictures about the show, the technicians were merry and helpful.

image-1 Factors such as this spur you on into the performance, it gives you that ‘lets fucking smash this’ thought, commonly a phrase I use, yours may be something different but I feel like it kind of means the same thing. We got a fantastic audience, more than any of us expected. And it does go well, and you do ‘smash it’ and it gives you great confidence to take away, but the next venue and the next challenge will be around the corner.

Venues such as Square Chapel in Halifax was one that wasn’t even on my radar, I wasn’t aware of its existence. Tucked away in the Yorkshire moors, away from the Northumberland Hills, lies a little gem. It’s a great red bricked building, reminiscent of the cotton industry that thrived there many years ago, facing a great green moor and the small train station.

Picture of the Dead to Me show in Halifax

Picture of the Dead to Me show in Halifax

It’s a great versatile space (above), that is slowly having more shows programmed there, and is the central point to a new building development to have a creative village build around it. Its encouraging I think, some people are investing in venues like this, and bringing in audiences to these smaller towns so they may not have to venture out to the nearest city to see work. And I’m sure there are others out there, if you know them then please share it to us?

From these rural venues there is an audience that are willing to pay and come see work, and I feel that there are an untapped one too. I’m from a desolate town called Retford where the only touring theatre we get there are the Chuckle Brothers and Sooty and Sweep, so maybe there is hope after all.

Maybe its not about trying to wiggle your way into the big venues, maybe its about getting into lots of the smaller ones and moving forward from there.

You may feel different, though I probably will in a month’s time, who bloody knows.