SHOWS 5, 6, 7 & 8 - undisclosed venues
These four shows ran the gamut - the ABSOLUTE GAMUT, I tells ya. Some soaring highs, some crashing lows… You can easily figure out which four venues I visited by just looking at the tour date list, if you wanna Nancy Drew your way to some juicy d-rama, but for reasons of elegance and tact, I’m not planning to name and shame any specific entities just to be publicly mean (although a couple of private e-mails have been sent, make no mistake!)
But this is supposed to be an honest and frank account of what’s going on, not a super-shiny only-promo everything’s-coming-up-roses whitewash to pretend that self-produced provincial touring isn’t SUCH a hard schlep at times. So I’m gonna speak my truth (with names redacted) if that’s okay with y’all?
(NB: I made the decision not to tour with my own technical operator, entirely for budget reasons. This is something I will not be doing ever again, because it can be the source of all evil in this world. But I have to own up to my part in it, because I wanted the chance to make a bit more money, so there you go, Michael Douglas - greed is not always good.)
Anyway, here’s a little smorgasbord to spice up your Monday… buckle up.
Firstly, did anyone hear about the emergency pothole repair that reduced five lanes of traffic at the Dartford Crossing to one for practically the entirety of a working day? And can anyone guess who needed to use that section of motorway to get to his show? Yeah, so I was two hours late to that one, stuck in a largely stationary phalanx of steaming cars. All I can say is, thank GOD for bluetooth and podcasts. (I caught up on ‘You Must Remember This’, ‘Las Culturistas’, ‘Joan and Jericha’ and ‘Casefile’. Highly recommend all.)
Half of the venues on this leg had seemingly no idea what my show was and what I needed, despite all the documents and e-mails sent in advance requesting confirmation that it was all good.
I just… I mean… I can’t.
I didn’t know what to do, apart from to keep blinking like a Family Guy character and then asking “But what about my documents?” - only for the techs to say one or more of the following:
“We didn’t get anything started yet because we were waiting for you.”
“I can do your lighting and sound up to a point.”
“It’s been years since I used a laptop. What do I do?”
There’s just not much you can do in these situations except make a mental note that you will burn the surrounding area to the ground when you leave, and then totally re-do/simplify your lighting and sound on the fly with about four hours before an audience comes in. (You don’t get dinner either.)
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE: The other half of the venues were actual technical perfection, so that was great.
Okay, but ain’t this just the rub? The two difficult techs were followed by super enjoyable shows with solid-sized crowds, and the two plain-sailers were infuriatingly more sparsely attended. Theatre really does give with one hand and take with the other, huh?!
But I always try to remember that if there are more than 10 times as many people in the audience as on stage, then it’s a crowd and you should be grateful. And those of you whom I didn’t know, who came and were vocally appreciative (especially the smallest audience, you were somehow the loudest of the four, no idea how!) - I am deeply in your debt for making it more fun than it could have been expected to be, and reminding me why we suffer the schlep at all.
Next up, it’s a northern jaunt to Carlisle (8 Nov) and Manchester (9 Nov). And then a Home Counties trinity of Guildford (15 Nov), Reading (16 Nov) and Banbury (17 Nov).
Guildford and Reading are on the way to healthy, maybe even full houses, so get in quick on those if you intend! The others, there isn’t such urgency, if you get my meaning…
All tickets available at matthewfloydjones.co.uk/richard-close-to-you.
And I’ll be back with another of these in a couple of weeks, hopefully with only amazing things to report and therefore no need for anonymity.