As we’re writing this blog, ¾ of the tour are completed. It only takes a week to meet the company and fall in love with the show. When we think about waving them goodbye on Saturday, an unexpected feeling of sadness reminds us that everything has to end one day and so will this tour. We wish, however, to have a couple of weeks more to learn, to meet more people from the industry or simply to be with Compagnie Käfig.
On this blog post we are going to look back at our time in Southampton where we spent five days so there is a lot to tell!
First of all, Friday morning welcomed us with bright sunshine and friendly coach driver waiting for us outside the hotel. From the very beginning of our trip to Southampton it felt like we were going on vacation – the weather was wonderful and we were heading to a place near the water! Considering the first Boxe Boxe performance was only on Monday night, we had a weekend off! We arrived to Southampton and checked into Jury’s Hotel in the afternoon so we had plenty of time to discover the city. We decided to take a walk around the old town and see the docks. It was amazing! We decided to spend every moment outdoors and enjoy this rare weather.
After a day full of excitement we were deeply asleep when at 5.30 in the morning fire alarm went on. The fact that we live on the 10th floor didn’t calm us down and we were getting seriously worried. However, it soon went silent – apparently, it was just a mistake and we went back to comfortable Jury’s beds.
Another beautiful morning has come and so it was time for our favourite part of the day – open breakfast buffet. Full English breakfast, lots of different cereals, fruit and, most importantly, warm croissants and pain-au-chocolat. After good breakfast we decided to have some fun. And by fun we mean go SHOPPING! There is a huge shopping centre in the middle of Southampton so we got lost in time and spent whole noon spending money. As we were happily going back to the hotel with bags full of new things, we noticed a nice Italian ice cream shop and decided to get something sweet and enjoy sun in a park. Our Saturday was like a real holiday!
Our Sunday was dedicated to do some LIPA work as some deadlines are close and we didn’t really have a chance to concentrate on that. In the afternoon we had a meeting with Heather where she spent more than an hour answering to our questions about this tour and Dance Consortium in general. During that hour we have discussed how to organise a tour from the very beginning, how Dance Consortium works on legal and managerial side and learned some new tips:
# 1 “Do not disturb” saves the world – considering how many people live in hotels across the world and how much it impacts environment, there is no need to ask staff to clean your room every day. This way you save the planet (every little bit counts) and staff will be able to go home earlier.
# 2 Confidentiality – it doesn’t matter how badly you want to share some gossip – it all comes down to good relationships and maintaining them. Think twice before spreading word.
# 3 Per diems – before bringing company to the country, get in touch with company’s manager and discuss per diems – whether money should be distributed before coming or during the tour. Take currency change rates in account.
# 4 Contracts are negotiable – if both sides have a good relationship. Even if something goes differently than stated in the agreement, it can be solved by negotiating and communicating with each other.
After the meeting, Heather took us on stage to see the auditorium. It was breath-taking. Each venue were different and had something amazing, Mayflower Theatre is old and huge. When we stood on stage we felt nervous even without the audience, we can only imagine what it must feel like to perform in front of 2350 people.
Monday was a busy day for us as we had several tasks to complete and a meeting to attend. We had a chance to meet Sarah Scott, education manager at Mayflower Theatre. Her job is to organise activities for various social groups such as children, school students, disadvantaged adults, etc. and, this way, grow new audiences. Before settling down in Southampton Sarah was interested in performing and community work at the same time. She found community drama very appealing and got involved. Working with various communities in the UK and outside the country, she gained a lot of experience and got an offer to work in Southampton about a year ago. Many things have changed in Mayflower Theatre throughout that year – new chief executive completely changed programming in the venue and launching exclusive dance programme for the next year. In fact, Boxe Boxe performance was the first one in that programme. Meanwhile, Sarah concentrated more on building new audiences and boosting interest in venue’s new programme. She revealed that community work is as much marketing tool as any others. Organising summer camps, extra-curriculum workshops and masterclasses give people a chance to experience theatre from the inside and later on, they are likely to buy tickets and become regular theatre attendees.
In the evening we went to see Boxe Boxe once again. The more we see it, the more we love it. However, we are going to reveal our opinion on the show by the end of the tour. Keep your eyes open!
Our last day in Southampton was Tuesday. We met some dancers and went to have waffles in that amazing Italian ice cream show mentioned before. Oh it was delicious!
Later on we had a technical tour around the theatre and learned more about technical planning before show is brought to the venue including lighting and staging plans. Technical planning includes a lot of paperwork as every activity must be risk-assessed. Compagnie Käfig’s technical crew usually comes to the venue one day before performance to do the get-in and prepare lights and stage. This show in particular requires a lot of attention on lighting so majority of light are hired and brought by Dance Consortium rather than supplied by venue.
However, the best part of the day was watching the performance from the wings – space backstage. It is amazing how company prepares for the show and how energetic the atmosphere is throughout the show. It was amazing to see dancers being so focused and giving all the energy to the performance.