Natalia here – for the penultimate week of our It’s A Wonderful Life tour.
What a week!
Now as you know, we take our show to communities all over England and Wales. The show has been designed specifically with local communities in mind, and therefore our venues are picked accordingly. This week however was quite varied in terms of the type of venues visited.
On Wednesday we performed in a school, Thursday a village hall, Friday an arts centre, Saturday an old town hall (which was actually an old court room), and then yesterday back to the familiar setting of another village hall.
David in the old court room
I think it’s time to mention our lovely team back at Farnham Maltings:
Janice plans and coordinators the whole tour. Decides where we go and when, speaks to promoters, arranges our accommodation and basically facilitates our every need whilst on the road.
Monica, the team’s theatre administrator promotes our work through advertising online, in newspapers, booking interviews and inviting reviewers to come and see our shows – basically helping to spread the word of what we do, alongside proof reading my blog each week.
Fiona and Sarah are the producers of our shows – and they do an amazing job. Fiona first produced this show last year and from the very beginning, she has given nothing but support to us and the show. Sarah has been a star in making sure everything runs smoothly and according to plan. There are so many people to acknowledge behind the scenes who have helped with making this show. A big thank you to Farnham Maltings.
We only have five shows left but I still don’t want to give too much away. What I will say is that sometimes we have to have a little jig around with the set and the seating arrangements. Performing in multiple venues brings about a different dynamic to each show because of their unique layout.
Every audience creates a different energy in the performance space. When the audience know each other, there’s a definite familiarity in the air which gives us a very warm feeling during the performance. They are unit and so we are we. As an actor, part of a small company of four: you instinctively feel when things are going well.
The people we meet and the places we visit on tour are wonderful. We usually aim to arrive at a venue at around 2.30-3pm. We need to arrive early in order to have enough time to complete our get- in. We then meet our promoter or techie and work out how we’re going to lay out the set and seats according to the space. We always need to make room for more seats for walk-ups, but we also have to make sure that we have enough room for all of our entrances.
The set takes about 30 minutes to put up. Then we put up the lighting, connect the cables for sound, arrange the props and prepare our dressing room areas. After that, we have a chat with the promoter of the venue who sometimes gives us a history about the space, or even the background of the audiences for that night.
We then do a warm up before dinner. I usually do some yoga stretches and sit-ups before the lovely dinner prepared for us by the venue. I go on to make a start on my hair and make-up, which leads on to a sound check. That leaves about 45 minutes to get into costume, go over a few final checks and get ready for our beginner’s call.
We’ve seen a number of new promoters on this tour. It can be quite an arduous task for them: spreading the word within their community about the upcoming show alongside trying to sell a reasonable amount of tickets.
With a tour like this you inevitably spend most of your time travelling. Popping into towns for a very short time and seeing places you would most probably never get the chance to see. For example this week, we stayed at Cleeve House in Wiltshire. Our hosts were the lovely Barbara and Carlo. What a place! Virginia Woolf stayed there back in 1906.
We’ve had amazing feedback and really lovely shows this week. Two of them I must mention:
Charlwood Parish Hall and Collingbourne Ducis Village Hall. What hosts! With such lovely audiences too. We were welcomed into their villages with such warmth. It’s testament to this work and to touring in general. We also received a standing ovation from the whole audience on the last night. Not a bad way to end the week.
Five shows are all that remains so please; come if you can.
Until next week, where I will be blogging for the last time.