We’ve been a little preoccupied of late with a different type of performance schedule…
After the success of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows we’ve had a lot of enquiries.
From being a roving group of troubadours, constantly seeking and searching for work, we’ve become something else entirely. Our tour schedule is starting to fill up with multiple engagements: everything from workshops in inner city schools to 5-day runs in some of the biggest theatres we’ve ever had the chance to play in. It’s a rather eerie feeling, suddenly being wanted by the cultural world. Some of our players are overjoyed, they talk excitedly about how this is good news for all of us as performers. With every show that we play, in every new city and space, we are extending our reach to more and more people.
It’s wonderful, being able to reach so many people of course, but the question is now that we are in demand, has our role as performers changed irrevocably?
The charm of our company of players has always been that there has been no expectation on the audience’s part. The people who have traditionally come to our shows are usually blissfully unaware of what they are about to experience. After all, why should they have ever heard of us before? In the old days, our shows would usually be booked at the last minute, taking advantage of gaps in the schedules of venues that we had no real right playing in the first place. We’d send members of our casts out into the street, in full costume and characters, talking to the public and getting bums on seats. It was always a mad rush to fill a theatre and get a production together at the same time – but that was part of the thrill of those days.
Today, things are a little different. With a packed schedule and precious few days off, we’re all much more focused on our shows that we’ve ever been before. Be Happy Theatre used to be an alternative lifestyle for professional performers, who were weary of the endless rigmarole of the traditional theatre circuit. It also served as a stress-free stepping block for eager amateurs, looking to get a taste of what life working in a theatre could be like. But now our audiences are growing in size, the old pros are starting to get a taste for the limelight once more and the new players are seeing each performance as a chance to get spotted.
There’s no reason to feel wary of this shift in dynamic though. If anything this change needs to be embraced. It’s wonderful seeing the performers and writers in our company more enthused about their work. They were passionate before, but there was a certain lackadaisical air with which they used to hold themselves, that suggested that they were simply going through the motions rather than giving their whole selves to each performance. Now, however, there is a real drive amongst us.