Michael Hugo: Sergeant/Constable/Undertaker/Pops

A ‘tour’ has had two meanings for me as long as I can remember.

I’ve known you can be shown around a place of interest and that’s a tour, but in my dad’s work a tour meant a posting to another country. In our case Germany.

Mike Hugo Child

Mike Hugo, 6 years old, Laarbruch Germany

We had two tours there on separate bases for seven years in total and the most constant factor was that there would always be new people to meet- everyone when we were the new people arriving and then newer people arriving as quickly as the least newest people left off on another tour or went back home.

It was only once I’d started working for a theatre in education company that the word ‘tour’ grew a third meaning. This time it meant setting off in a van with three other actors to a house somewhere vaguely central to 100+ schools and doing a show in one in the morning and another in another in the afternoon for 3 months before going back to the base for a debrief.

Touring with Broadsides has a different feel. We know we will be in a different town week to week, we can get home in between venues and we largely have mornings free so we can have a look around the places we go to. We see new faces in every town and, increasingly often, we see friendly faces that we haven’t seen since the last time we were there.

I think most people can feel excited about a change once it starts happening – however anxious we were about it before it came about. A change is as good as a rest and travel broadens the mind and all that.

I agree with these sentiments but, like in the tale of the town mouse and the country mouse – Home is the best place to go to after the adventures.


Steve Power: Regional Officer, Unite The Union, NW England

(Steve, his lovely wife Sheila and their son Kevin were Air BnB hosts to Suzanne during Broadsides tour of Hard Times, earlier this year).

“Suzanne, as promised something on ‘They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!’ from a trade union perspective. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much of a social comment was made by Conrad Nelson and how relevant it was to the current environment we all find ourselves living in at the moment. It was quite poignant for me when one of the lines in the show went, “I haven’t had a rise in 10 years”. This really struck a chord with me, as since the 2010 election when the tories got back in my life as a trade union official has been made really difficult by further anti union legislation, employers crying about how they can’t afford to give workers a decent pay rise, or one at all, worrying about how Brexit might affect them and all of this going on under the spectre of austerity. To a certain extent it took me back to the 80’s when at the time I was working in social housing and Liverpool and the North of the country were buckling under Thatcherism. Austerity roamed the streets then as well and people would do anything to feed and clothe their kids out of desperation.

This is all a bit doom and gloom but what I liked about the play was how Conrad Nelson seemed to be able to find something amusing amid all this darkness. The comedic bits were hilarious, particularly the ‘communist copper’ and some of them were almost Brian Rix farce like (yes I’m old enough to remember Brian Rix). The bit where your character’s ‘waters break’ was classic farce. But the point is Conrad has been able to tap into the zeitgeist. This is how ordinary working people, or in most cases not working people got through the 80’s and it’s how they’re doing it now, laughing in the face of adversity.

We had a great night and were glad we went. If you can’t enjoy this play and see the relevance of it today you must have been living with your head in a hole for the last 10 years.”