As the ‘High Representative’ of the cast of Swanhunter, I’m going to attempt to give you all a little insight into life on tour.
After a week of performances in Leeds in November, we set off for Hexham, then Thoresby in Nottinghamshire and then on to a wind-swept Bridlington at the beginning of this week.
I am currently sitting at breakfast in a lovely B&B in historic Berwick-upon-Tweed. We have been staying, for the most part, in small family-run hotels, welcoming B&Bs and self-catering cottages, which, I have to say, has been a pleasant change. We have always stayed with other members of the Company, and thankfully we all get on extremely well, which makes for a very sociable time whilst on the road! However, my utter inability to decline the lure of a cooked breakfast has resulted in a steadily expanding waistline! My running shoes will be pressed into service shortly!
Swanhunter is a show that really needs a huge amount of energy to keep it spontaneous, especially for the school performances. The cast has been exploring and experimenting with their roles to keep it fresh and exciting for the audiences. Jonathan Dove (Composer) and Clare Whistler (Director) came to see the show in Bridlington and were thrilled with the way it has evolved.
Unfortunately, due to the time of year there has been quite a lot of illness amongst the cast. How Elizabeth Cragg manages to sing the swan, with such high notes, when she is so full of cold she can’t hear, is beyond me. Frances Bourne (Louhi) had to miss two shows, but her cover, Kelly, did a great job.
This project’s aim is to give children a hugely positive first experience of opera, and we’ve all been wondering how successful this has been. The answer came for me when my sister, a primary school teacher, brought 16 of her 10 year old pupils to the show in Thoresby and Graham Broadbent (Dog/Death/Smith) and Stuart Stratford (Conductor) kindly met them afterwards. The next day, one of the boys came up to my sister and said, “That was the best thing I have ever, ever, EVER seen in my whole life.” Mission accomplished.