Full house tonight. Lots of lovely people who wanted to walk across Hampstead and have an experience as they did it.
My day had to peak towards it today. I learnt my lesson yesterday. I had forgotten how exhausting it can be to process adrenaline. I was knackered after that first tour yesterday and could barely think when I got home. More people were booked tonight, and even though it’s tiny in terms of the audience I’m used to, I don’t adjust how much energy I spend based on how many audience I have. Fuck, I remember once on a rainy weekday doing a Shakespearean cruise for a single person on the big city cruisers. She was so into Shakespeare that I gave her a huge amount of energy. It was a wonderful intimate moment between strangers on the top deck in the rain on an otherwise empty boat. I worked for her, and did requests, and connected to something truthful and we both wept for totally different personal reasons within the material. I’ll never forget doing that for a stranger… We caught a moment, performer to audient. I could have turned in something easy even over the mic, for her. I chose instead to work as hard as I might work for a full deck of enthusiasts. Harder even. It paid back, even if it left me drained and elated. What I’m trying to encapsulate is how our job involves being generous with our energy and our vulnerability, and how that can be costly.
I’m not really going anywhere costly and vulnerable in this tour though… I don’t have any past trauma caused by ghosts.
I’m playing a silly character and sharing facts. It’s plain fun. But still I’m finding it knackering, in a good way. I guess I’m a bit out of practice. It’s been a while since I got back from America and the regular Shakespeare that just pre-Covid job brought. Sure there’s filming from time to time again now… Christmas Carol will help me roll back into full fitness I’m sure.
It’s easy to forget how much time we all lost.
How wonderful that we all get to do this again. To gather in heathland and tell tales together. This is why I want to make sure that my days are peaked towards it.
A power nap in the afternoon, and then a scheduled half an hour when I made sure I had everything I needed to be in Hampstead for two nights. Then I drove to The Old Bull and Bush, and it was only when I arrived there that I realised that I’d have to leave my car and my bag there overnight so all the stuff I’d packed would stay there overnight. We start the walk quite some distance from where we finish the walk. Damn.
Still, I brought the key to the Hampstead flat this time. So I’m sitting here in a room still full of things but also full of flat packed cardboard boxes. Tomorrow I’ll try to put as many of the things into as many of the boxes as I can before I run out of boxes. Then on Monday I’ll move them to storage. Then next week I’ll be on the lookout for more boxes.
Now I know how this Halloween Tour plays out, it’s a truly lovely thing to be involved in. It feels like I’ve been welcomed into a friendship group and given my rein. It took them a while to trust me, but it feels like they understand how I prefer to shift and develop my material live, and to respond to the actual audience we have on the night, and to play. I do the spacial logistics and facts. They do the theatre. As we go through the journey of the walk, they commit to scenes that add joy or mischief or poignancy to whatever ancient theme I might have been pontificating on. There’s a lot in Hampstead. So much. I get to grind my various axes, and tell spooky tales. I hope and believe that the paying punters get a peculiar and delightful evening. It’s been hard to leave the final pub the last few nights, just for good conversations with audience members. I’m back in the Hampstead flat now. Tomorrow is a day of work in here…