Hecate Theatre Co.

Making theatre with an all-female twist.


Tricks of the touring trade

After a few week of frenzied activity I finally have enough time to sit down at my computer and write. I’ve always enjoyed my role at Hecate in organising our shows, sending out press releases, liaising with venues, managing our ever growing social media platforms and generally promoting the company and its productions. In the incredible few years I have been on the Hecate production team we have performed in Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh and Stratford, and now, for the first time we are taking a show out on tour. Staying true to our West Country roots, we are touring regional venues in the surrounding counties, starting in Bath, going onwards to Stroud and Exeter before returning to our home town of Bristol. This is our first tour and also our first production funded by the Arts Council England, in association with the National Lottery, to whom we would like to extend our grateful thank. Also, thanks to you; if you have ever bought a lottery ticket, you may have helped us too!

So, we’re ready to hop off on our first tour with FROGS, a bonkers tale based on a play by Aristophanes. What would organising such a tour involve? In many ways, it’s no different to previous productions we have put on. We are still required to send out press releases, liaise with venues and do all the other necessary publicity work that involves promoting a show, with one slight difference; now instead of doing that for just one venue, we are doing it for four. (All credit must be given to our brilliant Artistic Director for sourcing each of our lovely venues – thanks, Hannah!)
Our previous experience of organising shows outside Bath and Bristol primarily involved producing shows for the Edinburgh Festival. Edinburgh Fringe veterans will know that the Fringe organisers provide incredible support, sending out a full press list with a detailed list of who to contact for what. This certainly makes life easier, to not have to spend hours scouring the net finding contacts. However, for a tour there are no such privileges! Your venue will undoubtedly promote your show for you, but we have never been one to sit idle while others work, so our artistic director Hannah-Marie Chidwick slowly turned her eyes square, as she trawled through the mire that is the internet to find the relevant contacts for each area. No mean feat, that! Press Releases were dutifully dispatched, local radio stations contacted and hard copy publicity hand delivered to our venues.

Phew! But the work does not stop there, now it’s time for the social media campaign! And, what’s that you say? We’ve just been awarded Arts Council Funding? How wonderful! But the posters have already gone out…?! Quickly to the sticker factory! Then from the sticker factory, to the Hecate mobile, to deliver the stickers to the venues and affix them to our posters. They look glorious. We’re ready to go now, can we relax for a while?

Ping! Ooh an email, I do like those. Can I be available for a telephone interview? Tomorrow morning? Perfect.
Brrrng brrrng… Hello? Yes, of course you can invite our Artistic Director onto your radio show? No, travelling to the studio is fine for us.

Ping! Can we talk to you about a possible radio appearance? (Another one? Hurrah!) Yes, of course you can.

Ping! Can I confirm that I am happy with our listing? Well yes it looks lov-

Ping! Please can you send us some publicity stills, we’d like to feature you on our site.

Brrrng brrrng. Hello? Yes, now is perfect for that interview-

And so it goes on. Simply wonderful. In fact, I’m pretty certain the only reason that my phone and computer are quiet right now, is it’s Sunday and normal people are resting on the sofa. Either that or they forgot the clocks go forward and are quite sensibly still in bed. Which, come to think of it… might not be a bad idea… But no! Blogs to write, tweets to send… I’ll rest in May…

Well, maybe.

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The eye of the storm

Working in production is a funny old game; in many ways it’s rather like a hurricane. There’s a flurry of activity in pre-production when the show is being cast, the venue confirmed, posters designed and the PRs written. Then after that initial whirlwind of activity – where there are simply not enough hours in the day – comes that moment of eerie calm, when there is little to do but wait. It is the eye of the storm. You know it’s not the end, you know that soon the storm will return and the production team will be rushed off their feet as rehearsals gather apace and the social media machine grinds into noisy action. However, until then there’s very little to do that hasn’t already been done. This eye doesn’t last very long, a few days at most, so the sensible thing to do would be to take advantage of this brief pause, to rest, re-energise and catch up on sleep, yes? But do the production team do this? No. They bite their nails, worry about what’s still to be done and lose sleep thinking of witty (?) blogs to write.

Now, when is that storm of activity and 14 hour days going to hit? As, quite frankly, anything else would be boring.