I had intended to write a blog each day of the tour, but didn’t have the time or energy to do so I’m afraid, so its all going to go in this post!
We left Box bright and early (about 8am) on Tuesday morning to head down to Cornwall. The journey was supposed to take 3 hours, but to be safe we left 5! It did only take us about 3 in the end, but it was nice to get a chance to settle in, get a sense of the space and have some lunch before the tech. Our first performance was at Sterts Theatre (sterts.co.uk) an outdoor amphitheatre with a large cover to keep out the rain! We were very glad to be told on arrival that we had already sold 50 tickets – it was more than we expected, as it the first time The Ruffled Umbrella Company has been to Cornwall. Everyone at the theatre was wonderfully friendly – it is almost entirely run by volunteers, and we were offered places to stay by friends of theatre which was great. They appreciated our small set(a trunk full of props and costumes, and three stalls) and that we had very simple light(a general wash, with any indication of it changing cued from onstage). We enjoyed playing with the number of entrances there were on the stage, on lots of different levels – though I didn’t venture up the stairs myself!
It was during this period of marking through which entrances we were going to use, that Phil got a phonecall from The Burrel, where we were due to be performing Thursday night. The call was to say we had only sold 10 tickets there, and asking us would we like to cancel? It was uhmmed and ahed about for quite a while – feeling like the show should go on whatsoever – that the show would be less effective with less people – what else would we do if we didn’t have a show to do – the company would make a large loss if we did go ahead. Eventually, it was decided to cancel the show, refund the ticket money and offer comp tickets to the Penzance show. Obviously this was a disappointment, but it seemed the best decision to make! The show at The Burrell was booked outside of their normal season, which meant it didn’t have the same marketing push that it would normally which is probably a large part of the small ticket sales. The good news is is that as it was suggested by the venue to cancel it, there hasn’t been a negative effect on the relationship with the venue, and they seem to interested in booking us in in season in the future! It was also lovely that the venue gave us that option, as it was operating on a hire basis – they could have just taken the money, but they didn’t!
So anyway, back to the Sterts show! It was different to Bath, as expected, due to it not being an audience where the majority knows the cast(people laugh louder then) and the space meaning the audience were a bit too far away. Everyone seemed to enjoy it though, and the changes we’d put in in rehearsals felt much improved. It was also a fantastic space – HUGE – compared to where we’d performed before, but a lot of fun. Though it being outdoor meant I got at least 6 mosquito bites to deal with for the rest of the tour!!
The next day, after returning to the theatre from our respective overnight stays, we set off for Truro. We were luckily offered cheap accommodation by the theatre we would have been performing in, and got to meet some of the staff there and see the space which was great. We were then at a little bit of a loss as what to do with ourselves! We wandered into Truro to get some lunch, and then I was parked in Nero to take advantage of their wi-fi and read my book. I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about my disability in previous blogs, but I have a chronic pain condition that means I use a wheelchair some of the time. I don’t use it in An Evening at Home with the Austens, but the show is choreographed that I sit down a lot, and there are chairs strategically placed off stage. Normally I use my power chair, but as we had to pack everything in one car, for the tour I’ve been using my manual which was a very interesting and quite hard experience for me, as I was pretty reliant on having someone push me. Anyway, that’s how I ended up sitting in Nero, rather than having a look around(it was very cobbly) After the others came back, we went to Weatherspoons for dinner, when the news announced that Jane Austen was going to be on the new £10 note! Very fortuitous timing – though will never know if that got anybody to buy their tickets to our show!
The next day we popped into Truro for breakfast(I had pancakes with maple syrup, I was very happy) before heading to Penzance for our last An Evening at Home with the Austens performance – for now anyway! The Acorn is a really lovely theatre, and like many I’ve performed in, a converted church so felt very at home there! It was a big contrast to Sterts with less entrances but a much closer dressing room, as well as being closer to the town centre. We had 32 audience members which we were very happy with, and the layout of the theatre was perfect for improvisation, I think I managed to talk to everybody! A couple of amusing moments – the reviewer asking Phil when in character as Henry Austen for the casts real names(we didn’t have a program) which Phil went and wrote down to give to him, and a woman asking me “Can you please be quiet I’m trying to watch the play?” during the interval where we continue the audience interaction, as the set is changed for the second half. I replied with “They haven’t started yet they are just setting up” and she said “No, they’ve started…wait, are you a part of it” before going back out to the bar. Also note that I was in full Georgian costume at this point. Anyway, the rest of the show went well, and the people at the venue told us they really enjoyed it, and that audience members told them they did to.
I’ve loved being in this show because it is so fun and you can really see people’s enjoyment while performing it. Even though its only been a couple of extra dates, every time I feel more comfortable and more confident with it, and am looking forward to the future of the show!(which I very much hope there will be)
P.S Will post the review if it gets put up online!