Two weeks down and only six weeks to go!
Opening our tour of Declaration in Oldham felt halfway between the comfort and safety of a home audience and being out on the road with audiences we’ve never met before. It was a great way to start the tour and start to talk about what it feels to be me.
My head has been busy; there’s a lot to prepare before a tour but none of that can prepare you for the nerves, excitement and punch of panic as you frantically reassure yourself that you can remember your opening line 2 seconds before the audience enters. That feeling in your stomach just before you start is electric, but with Declaration there is an extra wave of nerves as it’s not just the nerves of performing, but also that I’m about to share my own personal story and experiences with people I haven’t met before. There are also parts of Declaration which are really different each night depending on the audience, and that gives me a mix of extreme nerves and extreme excitement all at once. As those doors open I often hold my breath for a beat!
I’ve met some incredible people in the space of a handful of performances who have told me how much Declaration resinates with them and has helped them understand, which gives me such a boost to keep telling it! In Hartlepool an LGBT youth group came, many of them had never been to the theatre before. We’re really passionate about reaching people who might not usually come to the theatre and already we’re seeing pockets of our audiences taking a risk with us as their first theatre experience, and that feels really special.
As a touring team, our hearts fell in love with Barnard Castle and The Witham Arts Centre. They have the most welcoming atmosphere, beautiful space and when my costume had hole in it Katy (the Executive Director) took it home to sew it back together for me over lunch without even giving it a second thought!
Being away from home can be tough, talking about your own mental health can be tough, but so far this tour has been wonderful – the team are all in it together, looking out for each other and have each others backs – just like our audiences. We’ve overheard audience members chatting, sharing stories and even promising to meet up afterwards! And that, feels pretty amazing to be part of.
Roll on the rest of the tour and meeting more lovely audiences!