Tuesday, October 18, 2011

tour diary #4 - killing at the traverse

October 14, 2011

I’ve passed my cold on to Pete, so we sniffle and shuffle around the apartment, eat a late breakfast and, inevitably, trawl the internet for reviews.  Thom Dibdin of the Stage weighs in, another positive voice to add into the mix:

"A telling piece which bodes well for Clerke and Gillard’s latest venture after the demise of Benchtours, and makes great use of Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourites, Clancy Productions."

Dibdin’s an old friend from festivals past and we caught up after the show, me careful not to ask him what he thought, him careful not to tip his hand.

 I’ve always had an honest and easy relationship with critics both here and at home, something many of my colleagues find suspicious if not downright perverse.  Maybe it’s from having journalists in the family, but I’ve always found them a hard-working, harried, underpaid lot, always up against a deadline.  I've only felt well and truly screwed a couple of times over the last twenty years; everyone wants to read a rave every time, but then again everyone wants a standing ovation every night, everyone wants to burn the place down.  All you can do is try to do your job and accept that the critic is going to try and do hers.  

Another line-through around the kitchen table, still trying to find that ease and mastery that allow good performances to blaze into great ones.  Nancy and Catherine are both working like champions and I know I’ve given them a Herculean task with this script.  How do you judge without being judgmental?  How do you ask an audience to stare into the abyss and coax a laugh out of them at the same time?  But they’re two pros and they’re both game for it and the show is getting stronger every night.

We meet at the theater at four for a production meeting to go over the next stage of the tour.  The next week is all one-offs, loading in each morning, packing it up and driving home every night.

It’s this part of it, the physical work of theater that I love the most, the gang of people that gather every night and actually do something.  It’s the thing that separates it from almost all of the other arts and a tour magnifies this truth and makes it manifest.  We all have our jobs, unloading, setting up, performing, breaking down, loading up the van again and then Tim or Camilla will drive us all back home.  

Dinner around the corner and then back to the theater where I set up the camera to get a tape of the show tonight.  Free from the draconian Actors Equity Association Code we labor under in New York, we can tape as many performances as we want, put clips up on YouTube and market the show in true 21st century fashion.  Also, we’ll have something to show promoters and producers interested in booking us down the line.  If they can’t see it, they won’t buy it and that’s a hard and fast rule.

Friends are in tonight, Kath Mainland, director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and her man Ray along with the Gridiron crew.  Gridiron is a brilliant local company, heavily awarded from many festivals past and we’ve grown close over the years in the Bedouin way, meeting up every few years in different cities, instant communion, sharing the same stories about different catastrophes, outrages and the occasional rare triumph on the long, strange road of alternative art/show biz.

And it’s a great show for our friends and the others gathered, our strongest show yet I think, though Pete prefers Stirling.  I see his point, Stirling was a funhouse ride with no sense of what was going to happen next, tonight’s show is more controlled with less of the danger and thrill that the real possibility of falling off a cliff sparks in a performer’s eyes, but still, the response is the strongest and most consistent throughout the night and I’m glad I’ve got it down on tape.

Ben from Gridiron buys us all too much wine in the bar afterwards and we will blame him in the morning for being a bad companion and spoiling our good intentions of an early night.

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