Canapes, Canaries and Call Backs

We’ve just finished a string of shows that have left us bruised, exhausted but a lot better off.

As we’ve mentioned already, there’s been an increase of interest in our little theatre group.

Besides the string of bookings we’ve had at bigger theatres, we’ve also been contacted by what we can only refer to as ‘high-net worth individuals’. This kind of enquiry is completely unprecedented in Be Happy Theatre history. We’re used to scratching around for work, desperately dividing beer money between the company and counting our pennies. So when we were approached by an elderly couple, who were throwing a grand soiree for their niece’s 21st Birthday Party, we were a little taken back.

Although we’ve got a rich history of running theatrical workshops for kids and teenagers, this well-to-do couple had no interest in hiring us for these services. They wanted our performers and our performance skills alone. We didn’t know it but we had drifted into the realm of ‘performers for hire’ – a lucrative niche that can snowball into an extremely profitable enterprise for all involved. As our cast of players is constantly changing and rotating, it’s rare that we keep a consistent core message or motivation. Some other theatre groups may look down on us for not sticking to a strict mission statement, but we see this otherwise.

Performance has many reasons for existing. It may suit other companies to hold their artistic integrity above all other priorities, we are a group of individuals who act and work together as such. The varied group of performers we attract into our company are not conformists. They prefer to live by their rules, to decide their own fate by making decisions that adhere to their own values rather than someone else’s. If one performer does not feel comfortable taking part in a particular event, then they are under no pressure to do so.

When this recent enquiry was brought up in our weekly meeting, it was clear that everyone was feeling a little skint. The promise of a big pay check for completely improvisational performance work clearly struck a chord with everyone involved. Although this lovely old couple had only asked for a handful of performers, they were going to be getting the whole Be Happy Theatre group, regardless.

In our usual eagerness to impress, we’d made ourselves up in our complete Circus get up. Over the years, we’ve collected dozens of Circus related outfits, from traditional Clown get-ups to much more elaborate Animal Tamer costumes. Strong-Man leotards, Human Cannon-Ball flight suits – you name it, we’ve got it. Our aim was to explode into the party with as much raucous energy as possible, we wanted to show these kids how much fun they¬†could be having.

We were booked to arrive as the main form of entertainment at 8, the guest would be arriving and we would be setting the tone. However, when we pulled up the long gravel drive (after passing two security checkpoints already) it was clear that we were in for a bit of a surprise ourselves. Loud pumping House music could be heard battering the single-glazed windows of the grand manor house. We’d forgotten what young people could be like.

It turned out that half a dozen ice sculptures had been delivered ahead of schedule, putting the party ahead by a few hours and accelerating the rate of alcohol consumption dramatically.

The manor house was a circus before we got there, but we certainly added some more authenticity to the occasion…