Last Thursday, with the help of six wonderful technical theatre students from Kendal College, we packed away our production of The Resonance of Seclusion for the final time on this tour. Following a sell out performance in Abbot Hall Gallery, with stunning art by Uwe Wittwer on the walls around us and work by Percy Kelly in the room next door, we folded costumes and packed away props at the end of two weeks of touring where we sold 90% of tickets and where audiences joyfully discovered the story of Joash Woodrow a-new each night. This all felt particularly significant for a show that our audiences described as “sublime”, “breathtaking” and “a privilege to experience” but the venues which had taken the time to respond when we were developing the tour described as “not having an audience”, or that they felt nervous about programming because they did not know our work as a company.
Not being a company who take no for an answer we were determined to build a tour to share our work, and to build the community links along the way to create an audience for the piece that we wanted to share. We explored the North West to find spaces and places where our show could tuck into a niche for a night or two and reveal itself to audiences willing to take a chance on us. These niches proved to be in diverse and exciting places from a school hall in Bowdon to an art gallery in Kendal, via a synagogue in Leeds and a mill in Wigan, to an actual theatre and a lakeland college where we met the technicians and performers of the future. Between performances we worked with students, talked to people who knew Joash Woodrow, and answered questions about how and why we made the work and what it was about. So from a show that we were told nobody would want to see, we constructed something out of love and bloody mindedness that drew audiences in, and afforded us all rare, quiet moments of togetherness and wonder in the most peculiar places.
All this craziness has left us as a company with new questions about how, why and where we make work. And with the understanding that often the best moments happen in the most unexpected places:
In a college in Kendal taking inspiration from students whose inquisitiveness pushes you to re-evaluate your own work.
In the foyer of a synagogue where a gentleman says to you “I’ve never been a theatre goer in my life but that was really, really special”.
Outside a studio theatre where your team toast the life of the artist your show is about with the brother and sister-in-law who have been generous enough to share the story with you in the first place.
In an art gallery amongst art, actors, crew and a rapt audience, all in the moment together remembering why you wanted to make this piece in the first place many, many months earlier.
All leaving you thinking if theatres are always the best places to reach the audiences we really want to share our work with.