Technical drama at family fun day, as local writing group battles against three location changes, two wireless microphones, and a temperamental speaker.
My friends always ask me what I do when performances don’t go to plan.
The answer is simple, you just hold your head high and battle through it the best you can.
When the local community trust advertised for performers to attend a family fun day, I jumped at the chance to get my local writing group involved. I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase some of the best local writing talent, as well as drum up a bit of publicity for our group.
I sat up most of the night before the big day, rehearsing my speech and envisioning a successful day with lots of applause and adulation for all of our performers.
I was wrong!
The first indication that all wasn’t well was when I arrived at the venue and couldn’t find the acoustic stage. None of the wardens I asked had any idea, and I began to panic as my stage time was rapidly approaching. I phoned one of the other group members and arrived at the location with minutes to spare. It turns out that the “stage” was nothing more than a purple line, spray-painted on the ground. No wonder I didn’t see it! There was no banner or signage to indicate that this was a performance area, and we were located right on the path at the entrance, where people were hurrying past to get to the main area.
Our performance time arrived, so I stood up on a concrete bollard and began to speak… just as booming music began to blast out from the main stage. Nobody could hear a word I was saying.
Sheepishly I climbed down and had a group huddle with the other performers to decide what to do next. Somebody’s husband ran off to try and source a microphone for us, so we had to just stand around and wait, while confused members of the public looked on.
Eventually, the microphone arrived, so I climbed back up to speak again and… nothing. The microphones were battery-powered, but the speaker had to be plugged in. We were swiftly relocated to the rear of the cafe area, where we were finally able to take to the stage, a mere 25 minutes after our advertised time slot.
The first set went off without a hitch, albeit the only audience we had at the rear of the cafe were the other members of the writing group, plus a couple of unenthralled coffee drinkers. The wind blew the sound all over the place, but that was the least of our worries. We were just pleased to get through it.
For the next set, we were moved to a third location, this time to the front of the cafe, next to an ice cream van and a toilet queue – Hooray, a captive audience at last! However, there was nothing to cordon off our stage area or indicate that a performance was taking place, so a number of passers-by unwittingly wandered right through the middle of our “stage.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, because the microphones were wireless, each time someone wandered between the performer and the speaker, the sound cut out. Not an ideal scenario when you’re performing poetry: the audience being able to hear all of the words is the key to success.
So, we soldiered on through it, knowing that we were fighting a losing battle and that we were metaphorically dying on stage. I don’t think any of our poetry or stories were particularly well received, mainly because the audience had no idea what was being said.
At least we were there to clap and cheer for each other. A few other members of the writing group had come along for moral support, as well as a couple of others from the wider writing community.
Despite all the setbacks, everyone had a fabulous time. It was a new experience performing in a great location and to a new audience. My young daughter got to see me perform for the first time, and we enjoyed a good old family day out afterwards.
I’ve also submitted a list of points for feedback to the organisers so, hopefully, improvements will be made for next time. Believe it or not, the disasters with the location and technical problems weren’t enough to dissuade me from taking part again. I think with a few simple improvements we can make next year a success.
Onwards and upwards!
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