This national touring malarkey is not always as glamorous as it looks, with constant cappuccinos, long traffic jams and the constant thumping of prop boxes shifting around in the van behind your seat ( although we haven't seen any skin coloured pants or pieces of aerial truss flying out the back onto the motorway as yet thankfully!). We have however played countless games of guess the name of the song and artist before the radio presenter says it, and how many dance moves can you invent whilst keeping one hand on the wheel and listening to Bon Jovi, (the power grab being one of my favourites of course).
However, it doesn't matter how many 18 hour days you do, how many coffees you drink in a row, or long you go without eating anything hot, it's all worth it once you get to show time. It does feel sometimes that it is long in the coming, especially when you have already spent 2 days at the venue rigging and racheting down counterweight fly bars. On our travels though, we have met some of the most helpful technicians, patient box office staff, totally on it marketing bods and supportive Artistic Programmers.
Our audiences have been fantastic as well, selling out most places so far feels great when you can perform to a large and very appreciative crowd, and receiving e mails afterwards from audience members saying how the show is the best they have experienced in 40 years makes all those long get-ins and hours in the van all the more worth it.
Our little van is our prized work-horse and really deserves a mention. True, it may not have electric windows, a radio that picks up anything except Smooth (actually nothing at all sometimes), and the roar of the diesel engine is so deafening at 65mph that it renders normal conversation impossible, but we love it and it treats us well, taking us all over the country, and it doesn't mind being bumped up onto pavements, or being attacked by the full force of the whole team plus the theatre technicians at the end of the night for the final slog of the get-out. It's amazing that the get-in for this show takes 5 hours and the get-out takes 40 minutes, but our trusty work-horse has everything to do with it.
So we are halfway through our first official national tour. Sure, we have toured nationally before but not so many dates in a row, and not so many amazing venues. We have seen MAC Birmingham, Brighton College, Jacksons Lane London, Theatre Severn Shropshire, The Edge Arts Centre and Circomedia Bristol, and we still have Redbridge Drama Centre, Cast in Doncaster and The Castle Wellingborough before we take the final four and a half hour slog up to Berwick-Upon-Tweed to visit the lovely Maltings Theatre & Cinema. So, we have covered 1000 miles, drunk 300 coffees (that's a rough estimate), slept in broken beds with broken springs, but we're all still smiling and loving every show.
And as the Artistic Director of this Company and Co-Director of this piece, I have to say that even though my job has many difficult things about it and requires some pretty resourceful problem solving and people management skills sometimes, I wouldn't trade it in for any other job in the world. Once the lights go down, the audience murmur quietens and the first piece of music starts you forget everything else and do what you love doing, and what you do best. It's a hard task, and you have to be committed and keep motivated, but what more motivation could I possibly ask for.