Wherever we go, whoever we meet, whatever the size or scale of the experience, we tend to take time out after the event, to reflect.
I asked the cast and crew of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! if during our final week at The Viaduct Theatre, they would help me reflect on two things in particular:
Touring & Protest
Two key factors in our daily lives since September. We have worked and resided in York, Guildford, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle Under-Lyme, Huddersfield, Scarborough and now Halifax. Every Tuesday – Saturday, we deliver a highly political and topical piece of theatre to a different audience. Each performance is a privilege because we hear and feel your reactions to the content, the farce, the poignancy and increasingly relevant reality presented on stage. We are lucky that you communicate with us with such openness. Your voices in that room are what make us want to do it again, the next day. Very few platforms allow this live, unadulterated relationship to take place. Thank you for being there. Thank you for sharing your voices. Please know how valued you are to the continuance of this relationship and this means of communication. In each venue, there will be people on opposite sides of the political divide, from different parts of the country or visiting the UK from across the waters. During the course of two hours they share a space. They will sense each other, hear each other, laugh with and at each other through us on stage and crucially, nobody leaves damaged. We hope you leave with a smile on your face, with passion in your heart and full of thoughts and ideas. We hope you leave wanting to continue the conversation – with people on both sides of the debate. We aren’t interested in creating another echo chamber. The doors are open on the way in and as you exit – let’s keep meeting, let’s keep creating space to communicate, only then can we move on into a shared, nuanced and accepting future.
As promised, here are some reflections from our company. We’ll send out a few at a time over the course of our final week – with a very special entry from a Liverpudlian Unionist included in the mix.
The ideas of Home and Family seem to recur frequently. These words mean something different to everyone. Home and Family can be discovered in many different and surprising ways, but they will only grow and bloom if we keep ourselves open to discovery.
With huge thanks to those who contributed. I hope you enjoy reading their generous and open-hearted reflections, as much as I did xx
Matt Connor: Lewis in They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!
This is the fourteenth time I’ve been on tour. Nine of those tours have been spent in the happy company of Northern Broadsides. One of the many lovely perks of hitting the road with Broadsides is I get to return to the same venues. Coming back to those theatres time and time again is a bit like visiting old friends. You become familiar with the layout of places. The auditorium, the smell of the green room, where the best digs are as well as the nicest places to eat and drink once the show has finished.
This particular tour brings back many happy memories for me. There was the time at Liverpool Playhouse when the audience erupted into spontaneous cheering and prolonged applause upon hearing the news that Barack Obama had just been elected. (I’m sure many in that audience share my utter disbelief at how times have changed in ten short years). There was the time at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford when, after finishing a scene in Henry VI my friend Maeve told me she was pregnant as we headed back to the dressing rooms. Oh, and that time at the Stephen Joseph Theatre when the opening scene of Love’s Labour’s Lost fell to bits because of a colleague’s flatulence! Happy times!
A Northern Broadsides and New Vic tradition of dressing one another up for £15 with items purchased from Charity Shops. Before the parcels were opened…As well as familiarity, this tour is one of firsts for me. Joining me on the road is my four-month-old daughter. I’m not sure how many babies enter the world and almost immediately embark on a national tour but she seems to be having a good time. She’s been on quite a few adventures recently. Our time in Guildford meant that she was one of the youngest marchers at the People’s Vote rally in central London. Her Daddy would’ve been there too were it not for a matinee performance. Prior to June 2016 I’d never been on a march, however since then I have been on a few and find it comforting to be one voice amongst thousands who share the same opinions as me. All we have are our voices and we need to keep shouting.
Rhian Beavis: Costume Supervisor at Northern Broadsides
Moving away from home isn’t leaving your family, it’s living with a new family. Whether that’s on tour, starting a new chapter of your life abroad or living somewhere new. There’s friends to be made that turn into family. People who you’ve shared good times and memories with. Experiences of new cities, countries and cultures that you can share together. Being part of the Northern Broadsides team is sharing the touring experience together. Visiting new theatres and re-visiting favourite cities.
Catherine Farish: Deputy Stage Manager at Northern Broadsides
I have been touring with various sized touring productions since 2015 in various roles within the stage management and technical teams, as I’m sure you can imagine, touring takes on many different forms and with this production, I feel that we’re very lucky to be doing weekly touring instead of daily. As a member of a touring company, the days are long and hard but the work is worth it because of the audience reaction and the sheer joy of watching people appreciate the whole production.
However, now as I venture into my 30’s I find a whole new side to touring that I never thought about…How do I manage my home life?
I have been in a committed relationship for (almost) 5 years with Peter who I met working within the industry so we were under no illusions when we began our relationship that we would be facing a difficult and rocky road. Early in our relationship we moved in together to save money and enable us to tour with a base we could come back to and be together, which was wonderful. After 3 years of living together in rented accommodation we decided to make the massive step and buy a house together which we did in January 2017. This monumental step in my home life has had a very unexpected effect on my work life. Now I obviously miss Pete when we are away from each other however we make a combined effort to find time for a daily phone call and visit each other whenever we can, (as well as attempting to schedule time off and work the odd contract together). I have found that I miss my home, I never thought I could miss an inanimate object so much, but there are frivolous comforts I have found in my home which I wish I could tour: my sofa and favorite blanket I watch TV under, my shower, my favorite mug etc.
My plan was always to tour and see the country/the world while working: an amazing opportunity which I would encourage any budding professional in this industry to do, there is really nothing like it. But now I find myself in a curious position where all I want to do is get a resident job, in the stage management department of a theatre in my local area.
As much as this would enable me to be at home with some steady work, I will be sad to say goodbye to touring as it is an excellent experience where you meet a plethora of new friends some of which become your tour family and will stay with you forever.
I cannot wait to be in my home for more than a week at a time.