I’m writing this in a shelter on the platform at Whimple Station in Devon. It’s not raining. In fact, it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. I’m here because I’m waiting for the next train home, having spent the large part of the day working on my new one hour show with my director.
What’s that, I hear you ask? Director? Show? Indeed. The diagnosis is positive. Things are getting serious. I now have a show. It has tour dates. It has a poster for which I went on a photo shoot. It has a script and the script has a start, a middle and an end. Things are getting very real.
The show is called In the Glare of the Neon Yak. I wanted to have a title that would make it stand out from other shows. My last two were called Static and Juicy, but this time I didn’t want any frame of reference and thought that a title which wasn’t one word would be the ideal way to go. The title has had some very good feedback from some of the places where the show will be staged. It seems that fringes, festivals and theatres like quirky titles.
So this is all new for me, this professionalism. My last two shows were intended to showcase my poems but this is a more immersive beast, a performance from start to finish. And that’s what gives me the willies. Every single component of this show is brand new and untested, and I have no idea what the audience reaction will be. My director is very keen on maximising every opportunity for audiences to respond which should make that less scary. Unless the audiences don’t respond!
So here I am at Whimple, thinking, wow, from this tiny Devon village shall grow a piece that will take me right round the UK. My head is full of enthusiasm, but more than anything, the joy of knowing, for the first time in my performance career, that someone else other than me is raking what I do seriously. And that is an amazing feeling!
So here I am now at Heathrow Airport Terminal Five. I stayed last night in Woking, which is one of my favourite towns and a place where I’ve spent a lot of time. When I booked into the hotel I asked if it was okay to pay with a debit card. We accept anything, the receptionist said, apart from goats.
It seems kind of unreal at the moment that I shall be performing this afternoon in another country. Okay, that country is Scotland, but when you’re used to Torbay, anything north of Newton Abbot is dodgy ground. The coach driver from Woking to the airport was incredibly jolly and rather envious of my old suitcase, which forms part of the show. You don’t see many of those, he said.
I expect the baggage handling crew are saying that too, right at this moment.
It was a weird day. I mean, they talk about the madness and the insecurity which hit some more than others. Has it already hit me?
The flight was fantastic. The stewardess who found me an empty overseat locker advised me to use it quickly as those who bring suitcases on board will nab it. She was one of the jolliest people I’ve met in a long while with an evident love of life and a loud booming laugh which echoed from the galley all round the plane.
The flight was 45 minutes. It took 30 to get my case at the baggage reclaim. I caught the bus to the city centre straight to my venue, arriving ten minutes before my show. The audience seemed to enjoy it, (both of them), but I treated it as a rehearsal and afterwards pondered on a raft of changes I might make for the rest of the run. I also need to be louder. Tomorrow will be an entirely different matter.
I walked the mile out to my student accommodation, then realised that I’d left my jacket at the venue!
It was great to see Dominic Berry and Chris White, and later on I bumped into Rose Condo, Dan Simpson and Rob Auton.
It’s going to be a mega week!