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Jun. 30th 2016

'ooh-risky-risky-might-fall-y'

By John Hinton

 

6am: alarm wakes me from second night in a row of recent-events-inspired nightmares about trying desperately to go back on a calamitous and irreversible decision.  I bounce out of bed and immediately crick my neck, which does not bode well for all the physical activity I'll be subjecting my body to this afternoon.

 

 7:20am: train from Lewes to Victoria. Having spent the past two days studiously avoiding social media for fear of being drawn down a black hole of despair, I trawl social media.  And am drawn down a black hole of despair.

 

 8:30am: tube across London.  I play backgammon against a dumb AI.  And lose.

 

 8:55am: train from Euston to Watford.  First caffeine of the day. 

 

 9:15am: day is considerably brightened by the sight of my director Nathan on the platform of Watford Junction in shorts and a T-shirt - willing the weather to stay fine for our outdoor performances, and shining with the splendour of spring.

10am: warm-ups in our ample changing room at Watford library. A thick cloud of political upheaval hangs over an otherwise happy reunion: we have not seen each other since we performed the show at Brighton Festival a few weeks back.  And it's all all right really: we're going to put things one tiny percentage point right by giving the world some pertinent street theatre to mull upon.

10:30am: we remind ourselves of the 'Watford version' - we'd always known we'd be two people down today, and had hid a plan up our sleeve.  We refind it, and each other - complicity rekindled.

 

 11:15am: to the Structure, for rope climbing practice. I am the first one allowed down the rope, and take this picture of Watford High Street from the top.  It's five metres down.  Which is a long way when there's no net, no grass, no spotters, no harness, no belief in a benevolent omnipotent supernatural deity.  I do sometimes get dizzy at height, but I have always felt totally at ease with the Structure.  (By the way, we do have our own name for the Structure, but I won't share it here, for fear of attracting the wrong sort of googletraffic)

11:30am: stumble-throughs of the three scenes: Washing Line, Lifejackets, and Quoops.

 

 

Midday: to the library, to get into costume and splatter multicoloured cornflower on our faces (now that I see it written, I'm not actually sure it actually is actually cornflower but no matter)

12:30: show 1 begins.  I am again the first to appear at the top of the Structure - an honour believe me.  As I emerge, a commotion is ensuing below: there is an almighty flurry of deckchairs, as the seating for the performance is distributed and rearranged.  You may think this would have happened before the performance began, but we do things a little differently at Tangled Feet.

 

 

12:35: I begin my descent down the rope.  I'm not quite being as ooh-risky-risky-might-fall-y as I was in Brighton, mainly because of my neck.  At the bottom, I tentatively approach the bedeckchaired spectators and show them my X-ray collection.  Three others as cornflowered as me emerge and descend. We do not know each other.

 

 

1:10pm: scene 1, Washing Line.  It doesn't quite go as planned: the washing line itself is new, and the coat hanger doesn't glide quite as smoothly along it as it did on the last one.  I'm playing the Father for the first time, and remember most of my new cues.

 

 

1:30pm short break while the other tag team do their descents into Lifejackets.  I eat my Caesar salad, which I've just remembered I never gave Leon the money for.

 

 

2:15pm: my second descent and roam.  I count coins and brush my teeth.  Or my character does.  I've just realised he doesn't have a name.

 

 

2:30pm: scene 3: Quoops.  Goes pretty well, I think. 

 

 

2:45pm: we dance our Finale, for the first of two times today.  This is my absolute favourite part of the show, and there are moments in here that rank among my fave choreographies from all twelve-ish Tangled Feet shows I've been part of.

 

 

3:03pm: everyone gets a little break, and my team gets a longer break while the others begin show 2 with Washing Line.  Conversation drifts inevitably towards the calamities in the headlines.  I make a point of staying relatively tight-lipped, though I feel the wrath, and of chilling the fork out.

3:45pm: my fourth emergence, straight into Lifejackets.  This is the least abstruse of the three scenes - the imagery and implications are crystal clear.  I'd wager that, what with the upheavals occurring closer to home, many people have shelved their concerns for the suffering of those dying daily on life rafts in the Mediterranean.  We serve up a needed and unsentimentalised reminder.

 

 

5:25pm: I pimp my services to the other tag team, who are down a body for Quoops.

 

 

5:45pm: the final Finale.  It goes very well, except that I collide with a fellow actor twice - the same actor, and entirely my fault both times.  At the end, we get that kind of round of applause that's just a little bit louder and sincerer than you were expecting, and it gives you the warm glow of having made something of an impact on people's day.

 

 

6pm: the show is over.  Wet wipes are daubed on multicoloured foreheads and cheeks.  Sweaty costumes are dumped in a bag for the wonderful stage management team to worry about.  Bruises are compared.  (I mention my neck but if it ain't a bruise you ain't got nothin' to show.)

 

 

7pm: we go for dinner.  I have a somewhat underwhelming burger, and the talk is 90% EU.  It is too early to ask how Tangled Feet will react.

 

 

8:35pm: I leave Imagine Watford festival behind for another year as my train departs the Junction to take me - via the Victoria line - back to Lewes and home.

 

 

11:13pm: the welcomed embrace of a loving - and three months pregnant - wife.  What world for our children - born and unborn?  The outlook may have darkened of late, but I'm perversely cheered by the knowledge that states always have been - and always will be - rotten to the core.  We can but hope that the freedom of expression we enjoyed today - to make progressive, socially-conscious, government-subsidised art that is completely free for its audience to consume - survives for our children to create and enjoy.

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  • The most accessible and original theatre company working in the UK today”

    The most accessible and original theatre company working in the UK today”

    The Stage
  • Tangled Feet offer a glimpse of magic”

    Tangled Feet offer a glimpse of magic”

    Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
  • For Tangled Feet, theatre is a contact sport”

    For Tangled Feet, theatre is a contact sport”

    The Stage
  • Tangled Feet, the masters of physical theatre”

    Tangled Feet, the masters of physical theatre”

    The Independent
  • They are defining the future of theatre”

    They are defining the future of theatre”

    The Edinburgh Guide
  • An astounding spectacle..a uniformly excellent ensemble…stunning”

    An astounding spectacle..a uniformly excellent ensemble…stunning”

    www.fringereview.com