Five Fun Fundraising ideas

As part of The Greenhouse, we’re offering all the shows that work with us a totally free performance space, and marketing support galore. We reckon there will also be a fair amount of cross-over for set, props, and costumes between different shows, so you can cross that off the list as well!

Once you remove some of those costs, we reckon each show will end up costing between £500 and £1000. That’s going to cover things like fringe registration, any set or props you want, and if you want to create your own individualised marketing campaign. And we’re offering teams the chance to raise that money themselves! All the shows that are a part of The Greenhouse will need to raise their own money to cover their own costs.

Yes, we get it, that can sound a little daunting. £1000? That seems a lot at first. But don’t worry, fundraising absolutely doesn’t need to be scary. You don’t have to do something crazy like run a marathon, the clue’s in the name it’s ‘fun’-draising! So, if you’re worried about the finances, keep your cool, because here are our top 5 tips for raising money for your shows during the fringe.

1. Bake sale   

An oldy but a goldy! Who doesn’t like cake?

Everyone underestimates the power of a bake sale, but in a town full of hungry students who will do just about anything to justify buying themselves a sweet snack during their study break, you can actually raise an impressive amount of money from a bake sale. It’s not too difficult either. Just get together a group of friends, find a spot with a good footfall (either outside the library or the union are good ones), each bake something tasty, and you’re set.

Extra monies for those of you who include vegan and gluten-free items into your cake selection. In an increasingly health-conscious age, people are much more likely to buy cake if they can console themselves with the fact that maybe it’s healthier than if they were to just buy a regular cake!      

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2. Pub quiz   

Now, students don’t need an excuse to go to the pub, so by holding a pub quiz you’re already catering to your potential donors’ desires. And more than anything, a pub quiz is a bit of fun. Pick whatever theme you fancy. Maybe have completely different themes for each round, or pick an overarching theme, like film, and go a bit more specialist. Consider adding things like a picture or a song round to really engage your audience, and there you go, a good-old time and lots of money for your cause.       

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3. An auction of promises    

This fundraising idea requires a bit more effort. But it is a lot of fun, and if done properly could earn you a lot of money, even more exposure, and consequently more money on top of that. An auction of promises may sound like an auction where what you buy never actually materialises, but come on that’s not going to get you any money is it?

An auction of promises is like a massive, public version of those ‘cute’ cheque books you can get as presents that promise people things like, ‘1 free cooked breakfast’, or ‘I promise to fix anything you need around your house when it breaks for free’. But instead of promising to do all these things for someone you know, you offer one of your services to a stranger on a one off. This could be anything from doing their ironing for them, to carrying their shopping back from Aldi for them.

It’s surprising how much people will pay for you to do the little jobs for them that they really can’t be bothered to do. Especially once deadline time hits! 

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4. Bring and buy sale  

Students like things that are cheap. That’s an undisputed fact. So, a bring and buy sale is great place for them to get new items to brighten up their room, or their wardrobe without breaking the bank.

The chances are that this would be a lot easier for you to organise than you think. If you have a team behind you, it’s highly likely that you’re going to have a selection of stuff between you all that you don’t really want anymore but can’t justify throwing away. You know how the saying goes, ‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure’, or something like that. This fundraising method is super practical as it kills two birds with one stone. You raise some money, whilst getting rid of your unwanted stuff! (It’s also a lot more environmentally friendly than sending things to landfill!  

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5. Marathon events

No, don’t panic. I’m not asking you to do an actual running marathon. Marathon events are things such as a movie marathon (e.g. watching all the Harry Potter films in one go), or a dance marathon (when you have someone dancing consecutively for 24 hours, it’s a bonus if you can get more than one person because it is more fun that way!). By adding marathon into the title of the event, people automatically think you’re putting in more effort than you actually are, which translates into more pennies in your pocket!     

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So, there you have it, 5 handy tips to raise money for your show in The Greenhouse! £1000 is our top end estimate, and in all likelihood you’ll really be spending far less than that, but it’s a good place to aim at. So what are you waiting for? Head over to our application form and apply now! 

 

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Say hi to our new team!

Hopefully you will have seen that we’ve released applications to join us on our crazy summer project, the creation of a new venue at The Edinburgh Fringe 2019. Although we are currently looking for directors, writers, and other production team members to join our teams for the shows that will be housed in the building, we do already have a core team of 6 who have been driving the creation of this project. So, we thought now was as good a time as any to introduce them to you all.

Oli Savage 

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Role in the project:   

Artistic Director

What this role entails:    

I’m responsible for the overall artistic planning – it’s a lot of big picture thinking, developing the initial concept into a more cohesive idea, and making sure that everything is moving along in the right direction as we get closer to crunch time. On the one hand, it’s about setting deadlines and working out what needs to be done, but on the other hand, it’s also about balancing that with the artistic aims for the project so we can deliver both logistically and creatively.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I’ve been trying my hand as an Artistic Director for a few years now – after we founded BoxedIn Theatre in 2017, it seemed like a natural progression for me. So, I started looking at other opportunities to take up a similar role. I think the experience I’ve gained from that puts me in a fairly good starting position for this particular project, but like everything that BoxedIn works on, there’s going to be a lot of learning on the job. And that’s something I really enjoy doing!

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:    

For me I’m most excited about the big picture for this project. Making and supporting some really hard-hitting work and sparking real conversations about the environment. I think that’s something which is really important at the moment, and I’m excited to see how successful we are in actually making a difference. The project is big, scary, and ambitious, which makes it hard, but it also lends a sense of seriousness – and I’m confident that will carry our message through!

Emily Hepher   

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Role in the project:    

Executive Director

What this role entails:    

I’m heading the finances as well as the production side of the project, which involves things like venue management and logistics.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I started off in theatre as a stage manager and eventually moved into producing. This new project is going to require and challenge both those lines of experience, so I’m glad that I have both these skill sets under my belt.

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:      

I am most excited about taking on this huge challenge and working with my most talented friends to create a welcoming space! I want to push our creators to think outside the box and really use this opportunity and our flexibility to help create the shows they’ve always wanted to put on.

Louis Catliff   

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Role in the project:    

Creative Director

What this role entails:   

I’m in charge of making sure the 5 to 7 shows run smoothly, that casts and crews are happy and that the content of the shows, the marketing material and the overall look of the project is coherent and engaging for audiences.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:  

I directed plays for four years while I was at University and co-directed the university playwriting troupe, SAND in my final year with Oli. As for getting involved with The Shed Oli and Emily coerced me over a 4pm bacon roll at the most recent Edinburgh Fringe. I simply couldn’t say no. And why would I want to? The project is going to be amazing!

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:     

The aspect of this project that most excites me is the sheer possibilities of our show line-up, in terms of genre, form and performers. Everything’s linked by the theme of the environment but within that there’s such huge breadth in which to get creative. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people pitch. Get weird!

Also, our shows will all be a fiver or less and I think that’s great because it helps to reduce the financial barrier that is often stops people from being able to experience theatre.

Sarah Chamberlain   

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Role in the project:    

Creative producer

What this role entails:   

I will be working with the production teams to help with the logistics of putting on their show in the venue, acting as the liaison between the teams and the exec team. I will also be working with the Creative Director to ensure our venue is as accessible as possible to all patrons and will be developing an education programme that will run alongside our shows.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I started getting involved in producing and production coordinating as the producer of Twelfth Night in the Mermaids Freshers Drama Festival. From there I have produced 8 shows including a Fringe Show (Polaris, Edinburgh Fringe 2017) and two BoxedIn productions (Romeo and Juliet, The Stage, 2017; WOOD National Tour, 2017) and a show in The Byre Theatre in St Andrews.

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:    

I’m really excited to work on making theatre accessible, and to create a workshop programme so that as many people as possible can experience the Fringe and be involved in our project.

Lucy Reis  

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Role in the project:    

Designer

What this role entails:    

For the role of designer my job will be to research safe and sustainable building options, and, design and create a building that harnesses the essence of the project, while making use of discarded materials. Along this process I will discuss options with architects and create drawings and models to illustrate ideas and then the final design. Along with the structure of the venue, my role will be to design the overall aesthetic and visual concept to the building.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I have always been drawn to designing spaces whether set designs for theatres, installations or curating exhibitions. While I have experience designing sets, designing the theatre itself is going to be a serious challenge but one I’m extremely excited tackle.

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:     

I am most excited about being able to see the project through from the early design stages to actually building the venue itself and to have the opportunity to work on something of this scale. The challenge of making use of discarded and scrap materials is also something I’m looking forward to.

Grace Thorner

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Role in the project:    

Head of marketing

What this role entails:    

I coordinate our marketing strategy and schedule, making sure we’re engaging with our audience and prospective new team members on social media, and run our blog. I am also in charge of getting in charge with press and other publications to make sure that our project gets as much coverage as possible so that people know about it!

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I started as publicity assistant for the production of ‘The History Boys’ that went up in The Byre Theatre in February. I then joined the BoxedIn team for the ‘Back of the Van’ tour we did this summer just gone and ended up as head of social media and publicity because we needed someone to fill that role. Turns out I really enjoy it! So when Oli offered me this opportunity I couldn’t really say no.

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:    

I think it’s the causes that it stands for. I think it’s incredibly important to present environmental issues in a slightly less conventional way because it offers a unique way to start an important dialogue. I also believe that accessibility to theatre is such an important thing, and so I am so excited to be working on a project that promotes that!  

Lara Tillotson  

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Role in the project:    

Graphic Designer

What this role entails:   

I design the graphics, all the graphics.

How did you get started doing this kind of role?:    

I got involved in theater because of graphic design. In my first year of uni I was in Art Society and was asked to design a poster for my friend’s play. I enjoy playing around in photoshop so I kept doing it and here we are now!

What aspect/part of the project excites you the most?:   

I’m excited for sort of the uncertainty and the troubleshooting nature of “how are we going to build our own venue at the fringe?” It’s sort of like a puzzle and once the pieces are all in place it’s going to be so epic!

So, this is the team  we have so far, but we want it to be even bigger and better. There are loads of skills required in making this project happen, from working on individual shows to helping us with the everyday set up and running of the venue. No matter what your skillset, we’d love to have you involved – so head over to our applicaiton form and apply to join our team today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our New Project

This summer, we’re doing something a little different. There’s a lot of the same at the fringe. It’s expensive, it’s wasteful, and we reckon it’s probably time for a change. So, we’re incredibly excited to announce our project for next summer – The Shed.A site-specific performance venue at the heart of the fringe, created and inspired by the environment, and our relationship to it.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? We thought you might think so – you can apply here, or read on to hear a little more about the project!

The Plan

This year, we will be building, designing, and managing our own venue at the fringe – a scotland-859332_1920venue that will showcase between 5 and 7 shows, demonstrating some of the most amazing talent that St Andrews (and beyond) has to offer. These shows will cover a variety of different styles and genres,  but will be united by a common goal – to spark a real-time discussion on how we can actually start implementing environmental change, and stop destroying the planet before it’s too late.

The Space

The space itself will be designed and built using only found and recycled materials, and 42840301_2199146713703713_4046175830705963008_nwe’re looking in to even more ways to make the build and execution of the space itself carbon neutral.

The Initiative

We’re aiming to implement this waste free initiative across all areas of production. This means a zero-waste marketing policy–no posters, no flyers, nothing that’s going to end up in the bin. We’re going to have to get creative with this – lots of digital marketing, QR codes on t-shirts and much, much more.

Tied in to that will be a notion of education and accessibilityall tickets to shows in our space will cost £5, and a select number of tickets will be free for young peoplebelow the age of 18. We want to make sure that everyone will be able to see the shows, regardless of income bracket. Alongside this, we’ll be running an educational programmethat will allow anyone to come and discuss our process and how we made our work.

The Future

The project begins now – over the course of the next 10 months, we’re going to be financing, planning, and executing this project. It’s insane. It’s ambitious. It’s incredibly exciting. And we want you to be a part of it.

At the moment, we’re looking for pitches from individuals or teams who might be app-3666365_1920.jpginterested in working with us to make this project a reality – if you want to apply as an individual, we’ll be matching you up to like-minded people to work on a project. If you want to apply as a team then that will be the team that you work with through the project. Read on for a little bit more information about what we are looking for and how to apply!

Your Projects

Here are the basics that you need to know if you’re thinking about working with us:

  • The project itself will run for the entire length of the Edinburgh Fringe (the month of August). We’d also like to have all the shows rehearsing through July.
  • The Shed will not charge you for hire of the venue – at the moment, we believe the venue will be keeping all the ticketing revenue in order to fund the endeavour, but we are open to a discussion on this to help the productions and the teams cover their costs.
  • The Shed is giving each team the opportunity to finance their own project in any way they see fit. We anticipate that shows will average out costing between £500 and £1000 – and we will be on hand throughout the year to help you every step of the way in raising that money.
  • Teams will be partially responsible for their own marketing, although there will be significant support from The Shed’s marketing team in terms of developing strategy and active marketing of shows.

Creatives

 So, you’re a creative. You might be a director, a choreographer, a writer – or something clapperboard-29986_1280.pngentirely different. But no matter what you are, you’ve got an idea for a show. Something fun, something important, something that ties in with our themes about the environment and our relationship too it.

That’s really fantastic, and we’d love to see that show get put on in The Shed this summer! Applications are now open, so head over to the form and tell us a little bit about yourself and the project that you have in mind. Don’t worry if you don’t necessarily have a team together quite yet – you can apply as an individual, and we’ll pair you up with production teams that are like minded. Be prepared to debate and discuss your project with them as it is brought to reality.

Production

Maybe you’re a producer, a stage-manager, a technician, or a whole host of other awesome behind-the-scenes roles. You’re the life blood of this project, and you’re what’s going to really make it sing!

Head over to the ‘Production’ section of the form and tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’d like to work on this project. We’d love to hear a little bit about who you are and what you’re interested in, to make sure that we set you up with a team that you really love!

 Teams

 You’ve found a fantastic team of great people and you’re passionate about your project? Great! All you need to do is fill out the ‘Creatives’ section of our application form, letting us know that you also have a team together.

This is an incredibly exciting project, and we’d love to have you involved. We know it’s a lot to take in, so keep an eye on the website and our social media over the next few weeks to learn a little bit more about what the project is and why you should apply. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at info@boxedintheatre.com.

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We absolutely cannot wait to hear from you!

 

One last hurrah!

So, when Oli left you he said the next update would be coming very soon. It’s safe to say at this point that it definitely has not come as soon as he thought it would! What can I say, we both severely underestimated the temporal and energy drain that is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But here I am, better late than never, with a little update for you about all our goings on at the world’s largest international arts festival.

We ‘Play on’ the mile.

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Hanna and I were ready and totally taking it very, very seriously!

Oli promised you an exciting day when he ended the last blog post, and Saturday was most certainly that! Ana, Oli and I met in the living room of our flat (did we mention we now live in a flat instead of a van, it has WALLS and there are STAIRS!! If you don’t know why that’s not incredibly exciting for me, you evidently haven’t been reading all our blog posts. No gold star for you!) for some last-minute rehearsals to add some harmonies into the ‘Play On!’ songs, before they made their second appearance on tour (we are performing a trilogy you know). Then we headed out onto the mile, our first performance on a stage, our first time to properly showcase our vocal abilities with microphones and everything, we walked down the five hundred flights of stairs from our top floor flat all hyped with excitement (okay and also stress because we were running a bit late) right into the pouring rain. Now, this is something we definitely should have expected what with being in Edinburgh and all that, but I mean the rain could have waited one more day before making an appearance. Or at the very least held off until we’d done our outside performance. When we got to the mile it was no surprise to anyone that the bad weather had put many people off, and everyone walking had their heads firmly down, hoods up, trying to get out of the rain as quickly as possible. We didn’t let this stop us, however, and we put on a great performance for those people who were there, and hopefully brought a bit of sunshine into their otherwise very dreary walk along the mile!

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The weather was not on our side!

Once we had performed it was time to grab our lunch and head over to The Space @ Symposium Hall to get ready for ‘To The Ocean’, call time was 2:20 so we needed to make sure we were relaxed and well-fed in time to get all warmed up. This time though the warm up did include scooping water out of the tent and a heck of a lot of hand towels to dry the floor. Thankfully this was only a necessity on this singular occasion, and there were no other near floodings of the tent during our fringe run. And yes, don’t worry we made lots of puns about how we were literally bringing people ‘To The Ocean’. Once the tent was nice and dry, we were ready to let people in, once again we had a lovely audience and have had really positive reviews.

Then it was time for a break before we performed ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, as you can imagine with two shows a day we got into a bit of a routine of flyering, lunch, performance, break, performance, so I don’t want to bore you with the details. So instead I thought I’d give you my highlights from the fringe.

It’s a laugh and a half

I’m going to make a bold suggestion and say that if you don’t know what you want to see at the Fringe then pick a comedy show. It’s hard to sum up what a piece of theatre is in just 50 words, and so by picking a show based solely on its short summary you run the risk of spending your hard-earned cash on a show that you really don’t enjoy. But, the way I see it, if you go and see comedy you are guaranteed to have a good time. Comedy is funny by definition, so if you go and see a comedy show there is about a 90% chance you’re going to find the material amusing* (*this is a completely made up statistic), and there’s a 100% chance you’ll laugh at least once because laughter is infectious. If everyone else in the room is having a good time, it’s basically impossible for you not to have fun.

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Disclaimer, although we are having a good time we have not just seen comedy. We’ve just seen ‘Out of the Blue’, although I think my undying love for them caused some comedy for everyone else.

Now I’m sure you’re all dying to hear who my favourite comedy acts this fringe were, well I didn’t go to that many (only the ones my Dad paid for), but I had a brilliant time at all of them. The standouts for me were: The Sleeping Trees, Josh Pugh, and Rob Oldham. Oldham is the perfect example of what I mean when I say that if you’re not sure what to go and see, go see a comedian. It was the last night my family were in Edinburgh and we wanted to go and see one last show together. The act we’d originally picked was sold out by the time we went to buy the tickets, and so we picked one of the only comedians left who’s show wasn’t on ridiculously late. I was very, very sceptical of a comedian who used poems in their set, however, these were actually my favourite part. At only 23 years old, Rob Oldham’s content was very relatable for my brothers and I, and this just made the content even funnier.

This is a theatre blog you know?

The Fringe, ultimately for us at BoxedIn, will always primarily be about theatre. And so, without further delay here are my top picks from the selection of drama I saw: ‘Freeman’, ‘Flushed’, ‘Hollywood Effect’, and ‘Thaw’. It was lovely to see our friends from St Andrews in ‘The Hollywood Effect’ and ‘Thaw’. It’s crazy that there are so many talented people in one tiny town, and it was great this talent had the opportunity to be showcased in Edinburgh!

Though my favourite show out of everything that I managed to see over the two weeks I was in Edinburgh was without a doubt ‘Forbidden Stories’. A multimedia performance that explored the theme of borders in the separated island of Cyprus. The performance took me on a rollercoaster of emotions, it was an exceptional masterclass in how to tell stories and create a totally meaningful work of art. I honestly cannot stress enough how beautiful, poignant, and spell bounding ‘Forbidden Stories’ was, and if any of you get a chance to see this, I can promise you you’re in for a treat!

Food Glorious Food!

In case you hadn’t seen/heard/had filtered into your brain by osmosis, we were performing both ‘To The Ocean’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ every day. This of course meant that we needed lots of sustenance to keep us going. On the day of our first performances a lovely little coffee hut just off of Nicholson Square, Cheapshot Coffee, was giving out a FREE coffee for every person who was working at the fringe. Now, if I’ve learnt anything about myself this summer, and believe me I have learnt a lot. One of the main things is how much I love coffee. Like seriously, I’m not just saying it, my life would be decidedly less good without coffee. So, a free coffee during the break between our shows made it one of the best days ever!! Also, the coffee was great, so 10/10 recommend Cheapshot to coffee lovers visiting Edinburgh.

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Look at us, all smiles with our FREE beverages!

The ‘foodie’ fun did not stop there, however, as we all enjoyed a real culinary delight on the last Wednesday of our run. Rowan’s sister Jess had come up to visit for her 18thBirthday, and so in celebration we all went out for a meal. The restaurant that was chosen for this joyous occasion was Cosmo, an all-you-can-eat buffet. They had every single kind of food you could want from a classic British Roast dinner, to Pizza, to curry, and did I mention they had vegan sushi?? HEAVEN. Now, please all heed my warning, DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant with Mr Oliver Savage, because there is no way that you are not rolling out of the building on some weird kind of food high. The man is a machine, and god knows where he puts it all! It was a fab evening though, and as we left the restaurant and went back to our fringe flat, hoping that the walk would burn off some of the humungous amount of calories we had just consumed, Ana, Hanna, and I began to feel a bit giddy. It is not normal to eat that amount of food in one sitting, and it does funny things to your brain. Some people, like Oli want to move very slowly so they don’t make themselves sick. Others, like Ana, Hanna, and I, think that it is the perfect time to skip along the streets of Edinburgh blasting the soundtrack to Mamma Mia 2 out of our phones and singing along.

We made it!!

All in all, it was 11 days straight of fun and games, then the 19thAugust rolled around, and it was time for our last day of performances. Both the shows went well, and we had great audiences for both. ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was particularly special as we had many friendly faces in the audience! Then that was it, tour was officially over, and of course we celebrated, and celebrated hard. Before our meal at Cosmo we had all received handcrafted invitations to the third ‘bi-annual BoxedIn awards’, so when we got back to the flat we all got party clothes on as Oli decorated the living room, and then we were all set to party! Now, I’ll keep some of the details of the night secret because I don’t want to spill all of Mr Savage’s party planning secrets, also to protect some people’s dignity (yes this may or may not include mine!). But long story short, there was a delicious home-cooked dinner from Oli, some awards, some drinks, and some games, we hit the town for a bit afterwards, and then all went to bed for a blissful night’s sleep …

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Here is your one and only sneak insight into what went on that night …

UNTIL we had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 8am to take the tent down. It’s safe to say that none of us had missed the saga of putting the tent up, taking it down, debating whether or not we should put it up in case it got wet, you know everything that happened on tour. We were going to take the tent down straight after our show on Sunday, however, as our luck would have it, it had been raining all day meaning the tent was too soaked to be put away. Therefore, we had to get up early on Monday to take it down. The staff at the Space probably had a very entertaining time watching a group of 6 tired (and dare I say slightly hungover) actors try to pack up their tent for the last time. After the tent was finally packed away, Oli treated us all to breakfast at Babylon Café, and when we headed back to the flat it was time, and the reality hit us all as Ana finished packing her bags and headed to the airport. And just like that the monumental challenge we’d taken on was finally, and properly over. 17 locations, 6 friends, 4 countries, 2 and a half months, and 1 van, and I think we all did something pretty exceptional!

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We’ve come a long way from that first day we arrived in Ireland

 

 

 

On The Fringes

Yes I am a terrible person and I’ve let far too long of a time elapse between the last blog post and this blog post. I’m sorry. It turns out that the fringe is actually a fairly busy time. Who saw that one coming?

So, here it goes, a DOUBLE BILL of updates on what we’ve been up to. Strap yourselves in kids, it’s going to be an exciting ride.

Tour-tured souls

When we last updated you, we had just left Balloch, our second to last location on tour, and headed out to Dollar, our sixteenth location, and our final stop before the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The rain continued to pour down, and everything in the van was damp. We were sick and tired of living in a house with wheels, and honestly, if I had to shower in another public bathroom I would have stabbed someone in the face.

Fortunately, I didn’t!

Everyone has worked so hard with this project, and I am constantly blown away by the intensity and quality of the work that everyone has been doing. Plus they’re all great people, who probably don’t deserve being made to live in a van for two months in the name of theatre.

So it was time for a little treat. It wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t designed for 6 people, but Thrum’s Cottage in Dollar was absolutely perfect to us. To start with, it had four walls and it didn’t have wheels. There wasn’t black mould and broken ceramic in the shower. And, most importantly, we had an oven.

Seriously though cooking for 6 people for this long, you have no idea how much I’ve missed using an oven.

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Even Vanny was feeling a little tired to be honest…

OH ALSO A TV.

I’d spent the last few days telling everyone that I’d found some really nice public showers for Dollar (lol pranked) so they were sufficiently surprised when we pulled up outside the cottage and unlocked the door.

We spent our first day as always, handing out flyers and putting up posters. And our second day was very much the same – we were very much excited for our final performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Now look okay, I’m not going to complain about this too much. To be honest, when talking about the weather that we’ve had this summer, I don’t think that we could have been luckier – this had to be one of the driest summers in recorded history. Still though, it’s tough when it starts raining, and it’s even tougher when that meant we needed to cancel our show.

And it’s even harder when we sit by our performance location and see about fifteen people turn up, willing to brave the pouring rain to see our show, and we have to tell them that it’s been cancelled.

We went home and WATCHED A MOVIE ON OUR TV (luxury) and subtly waited for midnight – that made it the 31st of July, the last day of tour, and our lovely Rowan’s birthday. Of course, we made a massive fuss then, as well as in the morning when we brought her breakfast in bed (did I mention that this cottage had like…different rooms and everything) that included a cake and candles. The rest of the morning was very slow, and unfortunately we had to cancel the show again due to the weather.

Not to worry though, we made a fairly elaborate dinner, and then went to the movies to celebrate everything that we had achieved thus far, as well as Rowan’s birthday. We intended to see The Incredibles 2, but it was sold out, so we just went to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again instead.

What a terrible film. Nuff said.

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And just like that, it was all over…

Then, we came home, went to bed, and that was it – it was time to drive back to St Andrews for us to go our separate ways. We had about a week until we needed to be up in Edinburgh, and a recharge was desperately needed.

Tour part 2 – BoxedIn returns

Our time in Edinburgh so far has been incredibly hectic, truth be told. As everyone began arriving in drips and drabs, we were all still a little tired and worn out – we needed to bounce back a little bit to be ready.

We did a boozey line-run of both the shows on the 7th (a real fun time – you forget your line, you take a drink. Simple, and not at all effective), and then scrambled to set up the tent on the 8th, as well as doing a run of both of the shows. And then, it was time to begin.

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Work hard, play hard, as always.

Our first show was at 15:20 on the 9th – we had an awards assessor for the Scottish Arts Club and a reviewer coming to that show. Not nervous at all.

Honestly, I’d managed the time a little poorly here – I arrived at 14:20 because we were having an issue with some of the ivy, and by the time we had it fixed it was already 3 o’clock. So, after not having performed for over a week, we were left with a twenty minute warm-up. Great work Oli.

It showed in the show – we were going in cold and we definitely weren’t as prepared as we should have been.

Bounce back time – we assembled again at 18:15 for our 18:45 show and managed to sneak in a slightly longer warm up. That combined with the fact that we had already performed that day, and the fact we knew that it wasn’t exactly our best performance, to create a strange, excited energy in the tent just before the audience came in. We had another assessor from the Scottish Arts Club coming to this show, and I’ll be damned if we weren’t going to blow their socks off.

Evidently we did, because we’ve since been short-listed for the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Awards (WHOOP WHOOP LITERALLY WHAT THAT IS SO EXCITING). That was actually one of our best runs of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was so incredibly proud of everyone for their work that day.

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And we’ve managed to squeeze some flyering in too!

Since then, we’ve been doing well with the shows – we’re selling really well for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the moment, which is super exciting. Less well for To The Ocean, but I think that’s to be expected as its new writing. The 10th and 11th went well, and I think we’re really starting to get in to the swing of things. And of course, seeing some fantastic shows in every spare moment.

Highlights include The Archive of Educated Hearts, an intimiate storytelling experience by Lion House Theatre, a group that inspired our show To The Ocean, and Police Cops in Space because those guys are just amazing.

Today has been interesting too – but I’m sure Grace will let you know all about it in our next blog post. Which I promise, will come much sooner this time.

Last thing – if anyone is up at the fringe with shows or anything, let us know! We’d love to come see it!

And the heavens opened …

When Oli left you, we’d arrived in the beautiful town of Balloch. It was a scorcher of a day, and as we sat in the park writing on our flyers we took the necessary precautions and lathered up in sun cream. After all the flyers had been dropped off it was still a barmy summer’s day, so we did what any sane person would do at 4:30 on a sunny Thursday, we went to the pub. I was so hyped for my first PImms of the year, and Oli and I had decided to share a jug. The price, however, did not quite fit into my budget. You’ve got to give it to The Tullie Inn though because they do have a lovely selection of VERY reasonably priced gin, so it was a rhubarb gin and tonic for me!

Once the temperature had cooled a bit, we’d drunk our drinks, and made use of the pub’s free Wifi, we headed back to the van. The Balloch House Hotel had kindly let us stay in their car park, so we were super, super close to our performance location on the grass just behind their pub. This lovely spot provided us with a wonderful view of the lake. As team cook began our preparations for dinner, we were just in awe of how beautiful everything was.

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Look at us all being so domestic!

This serenity, however, did not last for long. We arrived in Balloch with the threat of rain was looming over us. We didn’t believe it when we arrived because it was so warm. But on Saturday morning when we awoke, there were some VERY dark clouds looming over us. After a quick shower at the Duncan Mills memorial slipway, 50p for 5 minutes is a pretty good rate. On a side note, here’s a rant about something that has been bothering me: During the course of this tour we used many a campsite/public shower, and what I can tell you from our extensive fieldwork is that normally you have to pay 50p-£1 for 4 minutes. Now this has always bothered me, why 4 minutes? Who decided that 4 minutes was enough time? That is such a random number, and this was evidently decided by someone with incredibly short hair, because no way is 4 minutes long enough to wash your hair! Anyway, I digress, after we were nice and clean, Ana and I headed over to Loch Lommand Shores shopping centre to commence flyering. The weather was quite overcast, and it seemed that not many people wanted to do shopping on a grey Friday. But we did manage to hand out a couple of flyers to some very enthusiastic people, which is always good!

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I have never been to a shopping centre that had such a beautiful view.

After our flyering shift, Ana and I headed back to the Tullie Inn. (Did I mention they had good, reasonably priced coffee, and free Wifi). The rain that had been a mild threat for the past couple of days, now seemed like a very, very real possibility. We were later joined by Oli and Rowan who had finished their flyering shift. All of us took it in turns to look worryingly out of the window and see if the rain had started. We even began to actively NOT learn from ‘To The Ocean’, saying things like ‘at least it’s not raining’, and ‘aw, I really hope it doesn’t rain’ in a futile attempt to get the weather to make up its mind and rain now so that it would be dry in time for our show. If you have been following this tour and are a regular reader of our blog posts, you will know that rain and our tent are a no. Not because it can’t withstand rain, but because we cannot pack away a damp tent into our little van. That will cause two very big problems, a mouldy tent, and possibly some very ill actors!

It got to 5:00pm, call time, and the rain had not yet descended so we set about warming up, BUT crucially we didn’t erect the tent. The plan was to leave that task to the last minute so that we could make sure our lovely tent would not get wet. This, we believed, was a solid plan. It got to 6:30pm and the promised rain had not arrived, so we put the tent up. At around 6:55pm however, the heavens opened. We all sprinted to the tent and managed to take it down in a couple of minutes before it got wet. The whole dissembling process didn’t take longer than five minutes, and although we were definitely given a kick up the butt by the fact that we didn’t want to be caught in a storm, the ease of the process must also be attributed to the fab Bell Tent Boutique, who have made their tents so easy to use!

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The best tent-protection team one could ask for!

Once everything was packed away we dragged our soggy bodies to the Tullie Inn again. Another problem with the rain, apart from just getting wet, is that we cannot cook because we do that outside too. So that meant we just HAD to treat ourselves to a pub dinner. We were also joined by Balloch local (and friend) Colin, so you know, we REALLY had to treat ourselves. Especially considering he’d come to see us perform and we were not able to put on a show for him! All our food was delicious, even if Adam did have to wait a while for his crumble! And we all finished the evening feeling like maybe we’d eaten slightly too much food (and maybe spent a bit too much money). Colin left us just after 9, and we stayed in the pub for one more drink to keep out of the rain, and YES for the free WiFi. When we left the pub, the rain had well and truly started, there were streams instead of roads, and by the time we’d made the short walk back to the van, my feet were well and truly soaked. (My shoes are still not dry in case anyone’s interested.)

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We do love a good bit of pub food.

The next morning, we did not wake to rain, but the clouds overhead promised that rain would soon be upon us. So, Oli and Rowan made the decision to cancel that evening’s show. There was a strange mix of relief (we didn’t have to spend all day anxiously waiting to see if it rained or not) and disappointment because we had to cancel both of our shows. But all was not lost because Rowan came up with a brilliant plan, we would perform ‘Play On!’ in any pub that was willing to take us at such short notice. I mean, it is supposed to be the ‘Back of the Van’ trilogy afterall! So after an afternoon of boring office work, which included sorting things out for the Edinburgh Fringe, tickets to both ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘To The Ocean’ are selling well guys so go and get yours now, we did our first proper performance of ‘Play On!’ and it was a success.

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I promise we do all really enjoy rehearsing ‘Play On!’

The weather, however, was still rubbish which meant we couldn’t cook, and after the previous night’s expensive meal we could not afford another pub dinner. BUT if you will cast your mind back to our adventures in Eyemouth you will remember Rowan and Hanna’s quest to find a pizza crunch that had ended in disappointment. So, our choice of dinner establishment was made for us, we headed to the chippy for a nice cheap dinner, and Rowan introduced Ana and Hanna to the Scottish delicacy of the pizza crunch. Once our dinner had been eaten we headed back to the Tullie Inn as we had kindly been offered free drinks for our performance, and the game that has been known to ruin friendships and relationships returned, Monopoly Deal. We played a couple of rounds, had a couple of drinks, and then headed back to the van for a relatively early night.

On Sunday morning we awoke to yet more rain, but this did not put a dampener on our spirits because we were travelling to our last location Dollar. After nearly two months of travelling, Oli uttered for the last time ‘and to Aldi’, and we set off on the road again. I’ll let Oli fill you in on everything that occurred in Dollar, but here are some spoilers, we have had a very special person’s birthday, AND Oli surprised us all with something very, very nice!

 

 

Learning Something New

Over the last few days, we’ve been in Douglas. It boasts a population of over a thousand, making it far off from the smallest place we’ve visited, but don’t be fooled by the statistics. For its beautiful location, this place is a bit of a ghost town.

Where IS everyone?!

We pulled up in Douglas and had to double check the sat-nav at first. When we arrived, there was not a single person visible either on the streets or in their houses. And it was quiet. I set about trying to find an optimal performance location, and as I roamed around the town, it was still fairly sparse. Somewhat understandably, this was a little disheartening – it’s a little boring performing without an audience.

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Ghost town.

I had scoped out a specific performance location before, so went to check up on it – on my way, I veered off route a little, and ended up at the St. Bride’s Community Centre. And then our time in Douglas really kicked off.

For such a seemingly quiet town, this place has a HELL of a lot of spirit. When I entered the centre, I was immediately presented to Liz, the business development officer, who was not only very excited that we were there, but was very happy to help. She gave us a whole list of local places to get in touch with, and found us the perfect performance spot.

We set off posting flyers and putting up posters, while I popped in to the Universal Connections – another community centre in the town, and another place that we were welcomed with absolutely open arms. This was all going pretty well so far!

Calm before the storm.

The only real requisite for where we sleep is that there have to be toilets available through the night. And unfortunately, that meant it wasn’t possible for us to stay overnight in Douglas – small town, no public toilets. Or rather, there were public toilets, but they’d been closed down a few years ago. Not enough business.

We would be staying overnight in the near-by service station. That actually sounds much worse than it was – Cairn Lodge Services was one of those really nice service stations where they have like free showers and a ‘Farm Shop’. If you’re in Lanarkshire, take the detour. It’s very worth it.

We began cooking, with spirits a little bit dampened from the quietness of the town.

And then they got damper.

It started spitting. Not to worry, we’ve dealt with bad weather before. We could power through.

We set up the table and got ready to start eating dinner, and then the heavens completely opened. With no warning, it started pouring and pouring, and there wasn’t much we could do but sit there, eat our soggy dinner, and get soaked. We strung our gazebo up to some trees, and it made an acceptable shelter.

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A little sad, a little damp.

We couldn’t go inside, and everyone was feeling shit, and to be honest, it was all a little bit shit. The guys took our plates in to the service station to wash them up, and were summarily kicked out – fortunately, with a bucket of water to wash up in.

I’ll be honest, spirits haven’t yet been this low, and there wasn’t much that could be done. Except try to band together and pull through.

I’ve never met a more resilient group of people in my life.

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Laugh so you don’t cry…

There was a small – I don’t know what you’d call it, maybe a portcullis or something? A weird looking gate, just outside the service station, that provided some shelter. I went in to the service station and bought 6 beers, and despite the rain, and the potential lack of audience, despite the long journey behind us, and the week and a half ahead. Despite all of that, we somehow managed to laugh. At us, 6 students, sitting in a service station in some weird gateway, drinking and taking shelter from the rain.

What a ridiculous idea this was.

Oh THERE they are…

So it turns out that we didn’t need to be worried about there not being people at the show – we had a really supportive response from businesses and community groups in Douglas on social media, which helped to spread the word about us. We decided not to flyer in Douglas, and instead spent the day in the community centre, getting some work done and getting prepped for the fringe (WE ONLY HAVE 2 TICKETS TO THE OPENING NIGHT OF A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM LEFT WHOOP WHOOP GET YOUR TICKETS HERE. And if you really wanna show your love, grab your To The Ocean tickets too!).

After a very productive day, we went over to our performance site. And had to put in an incredibly difficult performance.

So we’d pitched our tent near a play park – when we were about to start, there were a lot of kids in the tent. Which is fine, we’ve performed for a lot of kids before. There were also a fair few families there. As the show began, the kids began to get more and more lively – running about, shouting, running across the stage and all that. Towards the end, it impossible to be heard over the racket – the kids were running about and screaming and causing a distraction. During the songs, they were dancing, and trying to sing. A few of the adults were doing the same.

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But at LEAST there was a play park…

We powered through, of course, but it was really, really hard. It’s always difficult to stand up and do a show, and it’s even harder when you feel like no-one is listening, or that no-one cares.

Initially, the rest of the team was pretty sad about it, and of course that made me angry. I don’t really mind making a twat of myself, but to see the heads of such strong people drop so drastically – it’s upsetting and it’s angering.

But the more we spoke about it, the more we began to take a bit of a different approach. When you think about it, the reaction that these kids had is kind of interesting – bearing in mind the size of Douglas, we agreed that most of these kids had probably never seen a show like this before. And so the reaction that they had – having fun, making a racket, and joining in – that was their instinctive reaction to seeing a piece of theatre.

And of course, underpinning all that was the central idea of this project – accessibility. The show may have been hard, but we’d just performed to the audience with the largest proportion of people who’d never been to the theatre that we’d ever had. That definitely counts for something. We could have told those kids to go away if they came to the show again, but instead, we approached the next day with a slightly different tack.

Setting things straight

  1. Arrive at the performance location. Pitch the tent, but leave the sides rolled down. That means that people won’t be able to run in and out of the tent, and gets rid of too much distraction. Not only is the running in and out disheartening for us, it’s also quite dangerous. If someone trips over the guy-ropes, they can injure themselves, and cause serious damage to the tent.
  2. When the kids arrive, keep an eye out for what they’re doing. If they’re back to the same thing as yesterday (running around the tent and jumping over the guy ropes), pull them aside and let them know (kindly) that that’s dangerous. They’re still welcome to come to the show, they just need to be a little bit careful.
  3. Warm up as usual, with a sense of excitement. You’re about to have an enraptured audience at the show.
  4. 5 minutes before the show time, round up the kids that are going to be coming to see the show. Let them know that you’re really excited to have them at the show tonight. Let them know that you found it a little bit difficult to perform with all the noise and the running around – let them know that they’re welcome to come and watch, if they try not to be too distracting.
  5. DEFINITELY ASK THE KIDS TO LEAVE THEIR JUICE OUTSIDE. Cos like. You know. I don’t want to be cleaning up juice for half an hour after the play.
  6. Just before the show starts, stand up, and let the entire audience know how excited you are about the show. Ask them to please keep noise to a minimum while the show is going on – and if they leave, they won’t be able to come back in.
  7. Leave a sentinel outside, just incase.

We performed to an audience of 30, of which 24 were children. There were some teething issues for the first five minutes, but by the time the show was under-way, they were completely enraptured. It was amazing to watch. Now that we’d actually taken the time to engage with these kids – we’d spoken to them like people and asked them to help us out when watching the show – they’d really enjoyed what we were doing. The looks on their faces throughout the show were only augmented by the kind words they had to say after the show.

It had been a tough couple of days, but with hard work and a caring attitude, we’d managed to turn it around. On an unrelated note, a separate family came to see the show this night. They had a young girl who seemed to be really enjoying herself. I went up to them after the show just to let them know that I didn’t mean to cause any offence with my announcement at the beginning. They said not to worry, and they they had a really lovely time.

The little girl ran out, looked at her parents, and looked at me. She touched her chin.

I looked a little confused.

“Oh, she’s signing,” said the mum. “She’s saying ‘thank you’.”

For some reason, that really touched me.

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We didn’t take a lot of photos in Douglas but HERE IS ONE OF US WALKING!

We’ve been learning so much on this whole project, and I’ll never forget Douglas for this really important reminder. I’ve always felt that it’s essential to approach other people (and life in general) with kindness. Douglas reminded me just how important that is – how a kind approach can often provide an easy solution to any issue that you’re confronted with.

We’re off on the road again, moving to our second last location, Balloch. It’s a really stunning town, and we’re hoping to perform for Rowan’s parents. Keep an eye peeled for Grace’s blog in a few days time!

 

So, what do you have to do to become a ‘Herring Queen’? I’m just asking for a friend …

Now, Eyemouth, we didn’t have the best introduction. I realise that wasn’t your fault, and I’m sorry I held it against you for our first day. To put this into context, we arrived at Eyemouth in the pouring rain, like it was literally tipping it down, and I had severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms. As anyone who knows me knows, and let’s face it even if you don’t know me, this is not a recipe for a happy Grace. So, when Oli stopped the van to go and look for our performance location, I jumped at the chance to go and explore the town, even though there was an actual storm concurrently occurring because I am not settled in a new location until I know there is a good coffee shop!

After a stroll along the harbour we found Obolo bar and bistro, our very own barn in the storm (that’s a ‘To The Ocean’ reference lads). The staff were super friendly, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the WiFi was really fast. Basically everything we look for in a coffee shop, oh and there were plugs for charging all our electrical devices. We hit the jackpot. Once Oli had secured where we were performing, he and the others who had stayed in the van came to join us. As the rain had cleared, we now had to set about letting the good people of Eyemouth know we had arrived. We split into pairs and went around posting flyers through letterboxes and putting our posters up in any shops that were still open.

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Safe to say it was a little bit grey when we arrived.

One thing that we had noted upon our arrival was the flags of all the ‘Herring Queens’ around Eyemouth. We continued to see these throughout our walk around the town, and those who have received the honour of the title of the ‘Herring Queen’ have plaques on their house denoting when they won this prestige. Obviously this phenomenon piqued our interest, how did one achieve this honour? What did this job entail? So, after dinner we did what any good millennial does when they don’t know the answer, we googled it. Google, however, let us down this time, even the Wikipedia page didn’t shed light on what a ‘Herring Queen’ is. We therefore had to be resign ourselves to the fact that we would never fully know the answer.

Even though this question still hung over us, we managed to get a good sleep, until we were rudely woken up by a rather loud lorry. Anyone would think we were sleeping in a working harbour … oh wait we were. The day was rather grey, but Ana and I adopted a positive spirit and went to the town centre to commence the first flyering shift. The weather, however, seemed to put a lot of people off a stroll along the promenade as it was kind of dead. We didn’t manage to hand out that many flyers at all. But those we did give flyers to, for the most part, seemed genuinely interested, which was a very positive sign! After our flyering shift Ana and I went back to the van to have our lunch. As we strolled along the harbour side we saw some worrying police tape near our van. We passed Adam on his way into town, and he told us that we had to go up the hill, past Gunsgreen House, and then down the hill, but we could still make it to the van. Ana and I were intrigued, and it’s safe to say we were not the only ones. It seemed like half of Eyemouth had come to see what was going on. The reason for the police presence is yet another elusive Eyemouth mystery that was never properly solved. All we know is that the lifeguards were involved. After the excitement of a possible crime scene, we went back to Oblo to get a coffee and some WiFi and were later joined by Oli and Rowan who were working on marketing for the Edinburgh Fringe. Our shows are on sale on line and they’re selling remarkably well, so head on over to get your tickets for ‘To The Ocean’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ now!

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What a beautiful place to perform!

And then it was call time, and we headed back to the van to put the tent up outside the beautiful Gunsgreen House, where we had kindly been allowed to perform. Our beautiful Bell Tent Boutique tent didn’t look at all out of place in front of the stately house. It struck me how out-of-place, yet totally in the right place the almost stately home was in this little seaside town, and how it made so much sense for our tent to be pitched in front of it. The aim of this tour is to make theatre more accessible, so when we arrive in 16 out of the 17 locations (not including the Edinburgh Fringe, obviously) of our tour we don’t really fit. What is a travelling theatre company doing in Roundstone? Or Enniskillen? Or Bala? But all the towns and villages we have visited have had such a strong creative community, which may not be apparent upon first glance. So, when we pitch our tent in all these locations, even though we may look a bit strange with our hippy van and big bell tent, we’re finding ourselves amongst a lot of like-mined people. We are finding places where we fit.

With some new direction under our belt for the first scene, our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was a really good show. And then when it was time to make dinner, we were joined by some rather fitting guests, seals! Ana was particularly taken with them, she may even have shed a tear or two. Topic of conversation at the dinner table then shifted from talk about seals, to discussion of other animal-related things, until we were reminiscing on the great film that is Madagascar. Then, after what can only be described as the BEST Mort impression ever by the one and only Hanna Lawson, we decided to watch Madagascar together in the entrance hall of the harbour building. While team clean did the washing up, Ana, Oli, and I brought up all our tent cushions, snacks, and prosecco. It was like the best sleepover ever!

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Aren’t we the cutest dysfunctional family ever?!?!

The next morning did not pass in such a wholesome way, however, as I was mentally scared forever. I was back at the promenade, just innocently doing some flyering. I was mid- ‘Can I interest you in some free theatre?’ – when something wet landed in my ear. It took me a moment to process what had happened, and then it hit me, a seagull had just pooped in my ear! I went over to Rowan in a panicked state of disgust, and she took me to the public toilets to get myself cleaned up. You’ve got to give it to the bird that it managed to aim directly into my ear. There was next to no spillage, and there was no poo on my clothes. But it was just a very, very gross experience!

But the day was made better, by not only the reappearance of sunshine, but also a visit from our friend Caitlin Morris! It was so lovely to see her and her family, and to have some friendly faces in the crowd for our performance of ‘To The Ocean’. With Caitlin having already seen the original performance back in the harbour café last November, we were excited to show her how different it is now, with not only different cast members, but also in a completely different location! The Morris family, and the rest of the audience, seemed to really enjoy the show, which was great! So Rowan and Hanna decided that a celebratory ‘pizza crunch’ was in order. Adam, Ana, Oli, and I didn’t fancy a takeaway, so Oli and I went to the Co-op to get some ingredients for dinner. As we were walking through town we saw a sight that we knew would not please Hanna and Rowan, a closed fish and chip shop. We went back to warn them and the Morris family who were strolling through the town in blissful ignorance. I have not seen such a disappointed Rowan possibly ever before. They did, however, manage to console themselves with some treats from the Chinese instead.

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Look, our friend came to see our show!!

Monday morning came around and we were rudely awoken again by lorries and a very hot and slightly smelly van (I mean fair enough, we have been living in it for nearly two months now!) and at just after 10:30 it was time to leave Eyemouth and head to our next location, Douglas. I’m going to leave Oli to tell you about our time in Douglas. All I’ll say is that it was not what we were expecting …

 

 

What We’ve Been up to Lake-ly.

At least you know what you’re getting from me. Over-excited content and realfreakin dumb titles.

THAT’S RIGHT EVERYONE, for just 3 nights, we’ve been gracing England with our presence – two cheeky performances in Keswick, and a whole host of lovely and helpful people to get us on our way!

Home Sweet Home

When Grace left you last, we’d just spent the night at Annabel’s for a night of friends, fun, and REAL food. It was really quite lovely.

We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to go, but also remembering what we were missing. It’s hard to go back to being in the van after such a warm welcome – especially after so long. Truth be told, the tiredness has started to creep in, which hasn’t been helped particularly by the spots of rain. The van is getting smellier, and we’re losing things more often.

And yet, for some unknow, unjustifiable and frankly insane reason, when night comes around, I’m still excited to sleep in it every night.

Go figure.

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What a great job our little Vanny is doing!

We said our goodbyes, and off we popped, straight up the East coast to Keswick in the Northern Lake District.

Organising everything with Keswick has been a little up and down – reasons to become clear later – but a shining light in the darkness has been an email that I received from a lovely lady named Jocelyn, asking if we’d be interesting in using her guest house during our time in Keswick. Unfortunately, it was a little bit out of our budget, but ever the cheeky man that I am, I asked her about using the showers in her house. She has three pre-teen boys and her own stuff going on, so it was a bit of a shot in the dark.

Something that is constantly amazing me about this tour is the seemingly unending kindness that we’re finding everywhere we go. She was more than happy to put us up while we were performing – we slept in the van, and popped in and out to make dinners and shower.

When we arrived, we received a particularly warm welcome from Jocelyn and her husband Graham, who moved their car off their driveway to give us space to park. We were also greeted by Nibbles, their rabbit, who was just, literally, the cutest thing ever to have graced god’s green earth.

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The view out of the van as I woke up every morning says it all really…

Honestly, we’ve got arriving in a new location down to a very fine art by now – within two hours, we’ve got posters up all over the town, and put flyers through most everyone’s letter box. You can’t NOT know we’re in town.

We made a quick dinner, and then, in an amusing turn of events, Grace and I went out to see a show in Keswick’s own Theatre by the Lake.

The theatre itself has received really positive reviews, and it’s clear to see why. The staff are friendly, and it’s picturesque location – just on the edge of Derwentwater – makes it very easy on the eye. This isn’t a space to review shows or theatres though, so I’ll be brief. Bold Girls by Rona Munro tells the story of three women in Belfast during The Troubles – what business a theatre in Cumbria has producing such a piece, I am not sure. Despite that though, we had a really lovely evening – it’s nice to go and see a show when the opportunity presents itself, and I mean…we both like…quite enjoy theatre.

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Theatre by the la-ake (read to tune of Cake by the Ocean)

We strolled through the streets of Keswick as the sun was setting, and made it back to the house satisfied and, surprisingly for both of us, not hating the idea of sleeping in the van.

What good kids

So Jocelyn, the lady that we were staying with, is the head of a drama group at the school in Keswick. They’d just done a production of the Tempest, and, in celebration, they were holding an after-party at Jocelyn’s house, followed by a trip to see our show.

You have NO IDEA how nice it is to like ACTUALLY KNOW that there will be people at the show. Like KNOW. IN ADVANCE.

The day itself went off without a hitch. Flyering, followed by a short drive over to the park, where we would be performing. Easy stuff, and another very busy show.

Most of the audience was aged 8 to 13, and personally I really love performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream to kids of that age. I think that they watch it with a whole different mindset to how most of our audiences watch it, laughing at bits that we didn’t realise were funny. On top of that, I get to do a lot of audience interaction when I’m playing Puck, and I think kids of that age appreciate that the most – plus, they give me a very different energy to bounce off.

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Look at our beautiful Bell Tent Boutique just hiding there!

The show was a raucous success – I think it might have been one of our best ones yet – so we weren’t quite ready to settle down yet. The Golden Lion was holding a pub-quiz in aid of Stroke Relief, so we sauntered along, feeling like we deserved a nice, cold pint.

Now let me be honest with you here. We weren’t expecting anything from this pub quiz. Maybe a bit of fun. A cute evening out, a few laughs, some beer, and then back to the van for another strangely magical night’s sleep. I arrived late because I had to move the van back to the house, and I saw that we had some roguely convincing answers. Fine, whatever, still no expectations.

We won.

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And we made a friend!

Well I say we won. Adam won and we watched. The man is a Pub Quiz MACHINE. Honestly. Wanna know who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1984. Ask Adam. Unsure who the 26th President of the United states is? Adam’s your man. Seriously it’s CRAZY impressive…

Feeling even prouder, and carrying the lovely looking bottle of Rioja we had won in our hands, we made our way back to the van again.

Market Day

Thursday is Market Day in Keswick. It was a tough one to flyer because most people were just passing through, and of course that meant that it was going to be difficult for us to wrangle up an audience.

Personally, I LOVE a good market, and this one was absolutely everything you could wish for. From fresh produce to off-brand fake-leather bags, crappy children’s toys to fish caught that morning – Keswick already felt pretty alive, but this was something else. It’s exciting to see a town like this.

Another day sped past with us handing out flyers, and then we met up before the show to have a quick marketing chat. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is fast approaching, and we wanted to think of fun ways to get engage with as many people as possible during the world’s largest fringe. Speaking of which, if you’re going to be around in Edinburgh this August, and fancy coming to see some really fun and lovely shows, we’re performing from the 9th to the 19th. Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (18:45) are available here, and To The Ocean (15:20) are here.

This was another kid-friendly show, but this time there were a few kids who didn’t come with their parents. We love performing for absolutely anyone and everyone that comes along. But what made this particularly special – at the end, we usually ask for donations towards the cost of the project, and leave a hat by the door. When we went to see what we had collected, the kids had left a handful of their sweets besides some of the money.

Adorable.

That night, we said our goodbyes to Graham and Jocelyn – they are truly lovely, and I would honestly, truly say that if you’re passing through Keswick and looking for a place to stay, look no further than their guest house. You’ll feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

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So the sun sets on Keswick (I regret nothing)

And that was that, Keswick over – after a long day of driving (and our first stop at an Aldi in WAAAY too long), we’ve just arrived in Eyemouth, which means that we’re back in Scotland now and in to the final leg of the journey. 11 more days, 8 more shows, 4 more locations – check out Grace’s blog in a few days to see what the future holds.

Spoilers, it includes an adorable little seaside town, and more seals than you can shake your fist at.

 

 

 

The time when we met everyone’s family

Okay, so maybe we didn’t meet everyone’s family. But, as you’ll know if you’ve read Oli’s previous blog post, Bala was all set to be a weekend of fun, family, and festivities (it was a special someone’s birthday after all). And it certainly did not disappoint!

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Look at what a beautiful view we had to wake up to!

Happy birthday to Oli!

Although Saturday may have been a very special day, that didn’t mean there wasn’t still work to be done. I was on the first flyering shift at 12 with the birthday boy. So, at just after 11:30 we wondered into town to get him his desired birthday breakfast, croissants. We walked into the Co-Op, went over to their bakery section, and were met with extreme disappointment as there were no croissants left! A disaster I’m sure you can agree, one must have what they want for breakfast on their birthday!! This meant we were now on a mission to find Oli a croissant, we searched high and low, and eventually the Spar came to our rescue and Oli was able to snag their last croissant and pain-au-chocolat.

Once the birthday boy had been fed, we set about flyering the town. There was so many lovely people, and we had a really positive reaction from the people of Bala. One of the highlights of the day, however, was when Oli caught a glimpse of his parents who had come up to Bala to surprise him. It was like watching a child who just got exactly what they wanted for Christmas, as he skip-jumped across the road (the green man was flashing on the traffic lights don’t worry. We take road safety very seriously here at BoxedIn).

Literally so many family members

So, it turns out that Bala was the most convenient location for not only Oli’s parents, but Adam and Hanna’s too. We all met Adam’s parents on Friday night when they came down to look at the van their son had been living in for the past month and a half. We also met Lucy, the CUTEST dog ever. She will probably hold the title of my favourite audience member ever for a very long time!

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She’s just sooooo cute!!

Saturday was the day to meet the Lawsons and the Savages. I nearly flyered this jolly family who were walking down the street towards me, until I saw that one of them was Hanna and expertly deduced this meant they were probably her family. Now, the Lawson’s do not do things by halves, if anyone was coming to support Hanna that meant they were ALL coming to see her. I met her parents, Grandparents, and her Grandparents’ friends, all of whom are truly wonderful people!

Later that afternoon Rowan and I went back to the van to have our lunch and stumbled across the Savages having a family birthday lunch by the lake. Carol and Ken were also so kind and easy to talk to, and it was really special to be surrounded by such a warm family atmosphere.

And it blew up like a circus tent!

That afternoon, we set about putting up our Bell Tent Boutique tent in our new performance location by the Penllyn leisure centre. There was a strong breeze coming off the lake, and as soon as we opened the entrance of the tent to put it up the tent filled up with air. It stood taller than it had ever stood before, and from the inside it looked almost like a big top. We managed to battle the breeze and put the tent up, and that evening there was a lovely atmosphere as the tent was filled with family, friends, and residents of Bala.

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How pretty is our tent??

Party time!

After the show, Carol and Ken kindly took us all out for dinner at Plas Yn Dre to celebrate Oli’s birthday. As we all sat around the dinner table enjoying a delicious meal, Ana and I reflected on what a special experience we are currently a part of. All the people around the table had experienced the joy from our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and the tour had impacted all our lives in some way. Even though not all our families were there, the camaraderie around the table made us feel like we had created our own little family that weekend in Bala. It was a truly wonderful evening.

Once we had lined our stomachs with some good food and the parents had left us, we hit the town! Now Bala has a great selection of drinking establishments, and at night it even has some of my favourite places, pub-clubs! For those of you how have not experienced a pub club before, you are missing out. We lit up the dance floor with our moves and enthusiasm (which may or may not have been ignited by a couple of tequila shots), and we partied the night away.

The day after the night before

The next day we all woke up a little worse for wear, some worse than others (I’m sorry I was grumpy Adam!). Adam and Oli went for breakfast with their parents before they had to make their ways back home. And Hanna and her family left to have lunch with a family friend.

After family time, we set about flyering the town again. Although it was a bit quieter because it was a Sunday, we were still greeted with lots of enthusiasm. And that evening, even though the Lawsons were the only parents still standing, we had another fab audience!

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Photo creds to the Lawsons for capturing this special action shot. 

Road trip to England?!?!

The next morning, we woke up to RAIN! It was a definite shock to the system, and a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with the weather so far. We all got ready for the day, hopped in the van, went to Co-Op for some breakfast, and then set off on a road trip to England. It may be home to half of our team, but we were yet to go to England. As it is a pretty long drive from Bala to Keswick, we had scheduled a stop in Manchester. I had never been, but I’d heard great things, so I was VERY excited, and I was NOT disappointed! Once we arrived in Manchester, Hanna, Oli, and Rowan went to the bank to sort out important financial things, Ana met up with a friend, Adam found a coffee shop to charge all his electrical appliances, and I went to Boots because as much as I love local pharmacies they do not stock everything, and when you live in a van having all the necessary toiletries is a must. I then met up with Hanna and we went to a vintage shop/vegan café called Teatime Collective. Now, you don’t have to be vegan to appreciate this place, if you have taste buds you will have a good time, 10 out of 10 recommend. Hanna and I then browsed the shops vowing not to spend any money. A shout out to Thunder Egg who managed to make us break this promise we made to ourselves, because we needed those clothes.

After our whistle stop visit to the city, we set off to the Steele’s house, as they had very kindly agreed to host us that evening. We arrived in the pouring rain which could have put a dampener on things, but we were very warmly welcomed into their beautiful family home. I had forgotten how nice it was to be in a building where you could walk up the stairs. This may sound weird, but when you’ve been living in a van for nearly two months, it’s the little things that bring you joy!

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Thank you to the Steeles for such a lovely evening!

Annabel had also invited some of our friends from St Andrews, Ellie Burke and Henry Roberts round so we could have a mini summer reunion. Nicky and Tom were the hosts with the most providing us with multiple snacks, copious amounts of alcohol, and delicious barbeque on one of the only days this summer that has not been barbeque weather. By the time we all went to bed we were very full, very content, and very excited to get a good night’s sleep!

The next morning came around far too quickly. And once we had emptied the Steele’s hot water tank as we do very much enjoy having access to an actual, proper shower, we headed off on our way to our next destination Keswick. I’ll leave it to Oli to tell you all about our adventures here. Spoilers, we have found some more incredibly kind and wonderful people who are willing to support this crazy adventure!