It’s the year of the Tiger in China. Well, for us here in Cornwall it’s the year of the Lion – and also the year that we are visiting China for the first time with our silent movie show Cliffhanger! so we hope it will be a ‘roaring’ success.
Last year turned out to be one of our busiest years, with shows in Belgium, Holland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Northern Ireland as well as throughout the length and breadth of England.
More recently however, our first-ever indoor touring show The Lion Tamer has been very well received, and has also given us a steady stream of bookings throughout the autumn and into March. Specially designed for village hall touring, it is another silent movie-style show, inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s classic 1928 film ‘The Circus’, with original music composed and performed on piano by Julian Gaskell, a new member of the company. To complicate things slightly this tour has been interspersed with some unseasonal but very exciting bookings for The Station and Cliffhanger!
In October we took a trip down to the west coast of Spain and performed The Station at the Gandia street theatre festival, just south of Valencia. Then it was back home and straight into rehearsals for The Lion Tamer. We only had time for two performances before rapidly re-packing the van and heading off to the beautiful city of Bruges in Belgium to perform Cliffhanger! in the shadow of the tallest brick-built church in Europe, and then on to Spain again, to perform at the Segovia Film Festival, another beautiful city (with a fairytale castle and a stunning Roman aqueduct) about 70 km northwest of Madrid. On our return we had 24 hours in which to re-pack the van and drive to North Lincolnshire for some more ‘lion taming’.
Whether the rigours of all this travelling had anything to do with our ‘arch villain’ Russell Hurd pulling a muscle in his back on our return, we are not quite sure, but whatever the cause, this resulted in us having to cancel our following two performances of The Lion Tamer in Cornwall – the first time in our 19-year history that we have ever had to cancel a booking!
The New Year saw us re-rehearsing The Station introducing Julian to the show for the first time, now playing accordion. This culminated in a series of indoor performances at the Atelier 231 creation centre in Sotteville-lès-Rouen in Normandy at the end of January. This booking was the first of 25 gigs we will be performing throughout France this summer, and we are very pleased that our commitment to re-styling The Station early last year paid dividends when we showcased the production at the Viva Cité festival in France in June. We ploughed back through the snow from Normandy to Cornwall to make another quick turn around and continue with our tour of the The Lion Tamer that ends with a week in Wales in mid March.
In April we will be re-rehearsing the ever-popular Cliffhanger! in preparation for our trip to China in May for the Macau International Arts Festival. We are looking forward to translating our signs into Chinese (The Hero 英雄 The Heroine 女英雄) but I think we need to find a good sign writer! We have been to Japan and Hong Kong before, but with small street shows. This will be our first experience in air freighting the set and equipment, and we’re curious to know what the Chinese will make of our slapstick, black and white movie show.
The big worry, of course, is that the shipment will be delayed, because exactly one month later, at the end of June, we have another ‘first’ – our first visit to Norway, again with Cliffhanger! With our extensive French tour, and further bookings in Spain and Germany this summer, 2010 is going to be another busy year.