Prompt Corner - Tour 2012

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2012 Round Up, 16th December

Well, we made it again! It’s been a long old slog, but in two days time, we will all be sitting down to Christmas lunch in Wallops to celebrate the completion of another operatic year.

Now, I did promise a report on Canterbury.

It’s a beautiful place, with lots of lovely old pubs, tea shops and brilliant places to eat.Obviously, being an ancient place it is full of character and you could spend hours just wandering around. In fact, wandering on foot really is the best thing to do, for the one-way system to the uninitiated is a complete nightmare, which we found on a dark Monday evening; map reading from two maps and a GPS, shortly followed by us abandoning the car in a car park and walking to the hotel so we could ask them exactly how we get to their own car park! Later on, we watched with amazement as Rachel, one of the truck drivers, reversed expertly down the tiniest network of streets with inches to spare.Luckily, the theatre itself has an off street loading bay, so no interacting with the public or small children on this occasion.

The Marlowe is still very new and shiny, and I’ve never seen a building with so many security keypads. They’re pretty much on every single door. Perhaps it’s a front for a secret spy organisation?Will do more investigation next time we are there…

It has been completely rebuilt around the old stage, and although it took some getting used to, we finally managed to find our way around the maze of corridors and stair cases.We seemed to be very well received there, and look forward to many return visits.

Milton Keynes passed with no drama as it is one of the easiest venues we tour to. This year we have had a bit of spare room in our props wagon so a few of us have been able to bring our bicycles on Tour. Our digs this week were a good distance away from the theatre but the journey was shortened severely by some fast urban cycling through the underpasses and cycle lanes MK has to offer. We also managed to fit in some leisure time sliding down the indoor snow slope and the gym next to the theatre said we must be one of the most health conscious companies, as so many of us had visited them daily, all fitted in around our regular work schedule!We said goodbye to Rusalka on the Friday, and also had a party to celebrate the end of Jakub Hruša’s tenure as touring music director.

Our final week saw us up in Stoke, and once again we were fantastically received. The Manchester Glyndebourne Association came to the Wednesday Figaro , and laid on a cracking spread afterwards for the entire company, although we weren’t too sure about the pink and green cheeses!As we were only doing Figaro in Stoke, we had a bit of re-packing to do in the trailers. All of the Rusalka props, costumes, wigs, and LED reed beds were sent back home in the wardrobe truck,and the Figaro items were all squeezed into our big white trailer. It wasn’t the easiest pack we have ever done, but it all managed to find it’s way up North!

So that’s it from me for a few months. I’m not working on Imago , but I will try and persuade Claire to give you the lowdown if she’s not too busy.

Merry Christmas!

15th November:Plymouth

Hello all, sorry it’s been a whole month since I last wrote a blog.

Obviously a lot has happened since we left Glyndebourne.

We are all still stunned with the loss of our lovely Bob Poulton, so Rusalka days are rather subdued and contemplative.

I was lucky enough to have worked with him before on several shows, including Albert Herring, Jenůfa , and Meistersinger , and the common theme was uproarious laughter, wicked filthy banter, and the booming shout of “Marvellous!” Everyone who had ever met him absolutely adored him.

I have seen it written countless times, but it really was true that when you saw his name on a cast list even a dull show would become a fun-filled prospect.

He has left a big hole in our company, but I think we have drawn closer, and the best way to remember him is to carry on with as much laughter as possible.

As we are doing an abnormally large amount of Figaros on tour this year, I thought some fun facts are in order.

From the opening night of the Festival Figaro to the last night of the Tour, we will have;

  • Blown up 1,312 balloons, using approximately 36 cubic metres of helium.
  • Spent 100.45 hours doing the show, which is 4.185 days.
  • The lighting operators have pressed the GO button 5,166 times.
  • The titles operators have hit the return key 35,342 times
  • Claire, the current Figaro DSM, and I have turned 22,017 pages of the score between us.
  • Lucy, the staff director, has gone through 7 note books full of notes for the singers. She wouldn’t divulge how many pencils!

Last year was the tour of niggling injuries, this year there are various viruses doing the rounds.

No sooner have you recovered from a runny nose and raging sore throat, the prospect for the“John Travolta“appears on the horizon. I’ll leave that to your imaginations…

The most important thing we have learned this year, is to never attempt to unload a truck on to a street in Wimbledon when it coincides with the afternoon school run.

40 odd 5-8 year olds on scooters screaming“look at the big magic cauldron!!!“was not a great experience. Even though safety barriers had been put out, they might as well have been made of chocolate for all the good they did! Later on that post-halloween evening, there was great concern and several phone calls made when nobody had seen the Rusalka cauldron. Everyone wondered whether it had been borrowed for a very elaborate party!! Fortunately it had been stored out of sight by a couple of crew who thought it best just to keep it out of the way.

Our next venue will be Canterbury, which is a new and exciting prospect for all of us.

I shall report back for you!

14th October: Tour Preparations

Gosh, I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I first started writing this blog.
The weather, as ever is getting weirder. Yesterday we we cowering in waterproofs and wellies, today, I am sitting on a bench in the glorious sunshine on the haha lawn. The only thing betraying the season is the orangey tinge to the trees and the fallen leaves.

Autumn of course means tour time. We still have a few days before we start off in Woking, and the back dock is full of flight cases containing all the necessary items to see us through seven weeks on the road.

This year’s tour is in a rather unusual format, as we are taking Figaro and Rusalka to the main venues, then performing the Yellow Sofa in a studio venue either part of the theatre, or relatively close by.

Of course, not only are we getting ready for the tour, preparations for Festival 2013 are also well under way. Last week a few of us attended the Model Box presentation for Ariadne Auf Naxos , which is one of the shows I will be working on next year.
This presentation is made by the director, designer and costume designer. They talk about their production ideas and designs, how they came about them, what has inspired them.
The people who attend are from all across the company, from the box office to production wigs. We all like to know what a new show might entail, and it is a good opportunity to get an idea of what a new production team is like!

During the last week of shows at Glyndebourne, those of us who are covering ASMs not coming on tour spend a few performances getting to know the cues. For Figaro, this means I am in the OP wing, and I get to blow the balloons up with a big helium canister. Sadly not as big as the ones that filled Felix Baumgartner’s amazing Stratos balloon, that would be fun!
It is a very strange experience, doing a different job on a show that you have only just finished a few months before. I listen out for the cues from Ceebs the Figaro DSM, only to find that I am actually mouthing the words before she says them. I’m sure she has a similar experience on Rusalka , as she was on the book for that last year.
The strangest thing though is to watch a show that you have worked on as an audience member.
It can be quite difficult to sit back and enjoy it!

Sunday will find us travelling up to Woking. We have all been quite settled with the shows at Glyndebourne but moving to a much smaller stage will present us with all sorts of challenges. Figaro will require some deep thought and choreography on how to complete the scene changes, Rusalka interval, scenic, costume and wig changes will be re organised and the changeovers of set that commence after the show will present the night crew with plenty of logistical trials on which bit of set to build first! Plus there will be plenty of the company who have never been to Woking before, so a new theatre and new town will present it’s own issues for them…. I think Company Office have spent today printing maps, information packs and confirming hotel reservations, fingers crossed for Tuesday!