Trains, “Honey” and “Beecart”s

As you know from my last post, I had an audition with Pif-Paf theatre for their shows “Honey” and the accompanying street show “Bee Cart” on Monday.  The previous day had lots of alarming news stories about snow causing country wide travel disruption and to cap it all, my van was also out of action.

It is debatable whether I would have wanted to drive all the way to Sheffield and back, and do an energetic workshop style audition too, so I might well have opted for the train anyway.  But, as I didn’t know I’d be needing to travel by train well in advance, I was not able to take advantage of any discounts for advance booking.  I was also too late to order online and get tickets by post and there is no ticket machine at Bentham station.  All this meant that the fare was twice as much as that displayed on the National Rail Enquiries site online when I bought it on the train on the day.

It was a funny old route.  Bentham leaving at 6.21am, (I feared the prospect of getting up in time for this after my 4.15am alarm on the previous Thursday not at all!) to Lancaster, then Lancaster to Manchester and Manchester to Sheffield.  The total journey time being a little over 3 hours altogether in order to be there in time to catch a bus to the “Blue Shed” for arrival at 11am or earlier.

I happened to bump into Jeremy Shine of Manchester International Arts at Manchester Oxford Road train station, (what are the odds?).  The train was late at Lancaster and Manchester and I was worried whether I’d be there on time so sent a text message ahead just in case.  Luckily the instructions and map sent by Pete Gunson proved to be extremely accurate and useful.  The Sheffield Interchange was not far from the train station and I didn’t have to wait long for the correct bus.

There had been no further snow in Bentham the previous day but all day Sunday had been submerged in an uncanny thick fog.  It was still there in the morning when I left but we emerged from it at some point in the journey revealing instead the remains of what looked to be considerably thicker snow than I’d left behind.  Although I hadn’t brought my proper water-proof hiking boots, the boots I was wearing dealt with the snow and slush that was left well enough.

I arrived with a few minutes spare in the end.  I then discovered that the artistic director of Tell-Tale Hearts, Natasha Holmes (whose blog is in my blog roll), was running the workshop activities so that Pete and Eleanor could concentrate on scrutinising everyone.  This was a pleasant surprise as, though I hadn’t met Natasha before, I had met their administrator Jane on a Puppet Centre Trust course.

I often feel that I don’t come across at my best in audition and interview situations, as it is hard; feeling that you’re being evaluated.  For some reason performing in front of a normal audience is not a problem, but in any case; Natasha did an excellent job of putting everyone at their ease and I think I did very well.  I think I did not get selected because my singing range was too high compared to the music as arranged and recorded already.  I’d like to think that I made a good impression and they know some of what I can do now if anything else comes up, though we did not do any puppetry in the workshop in the end – it was mainly concentrating on the physical performance side.

So I had a nice time with a lot of other friendly performers, if I got nothing else out of it.  If train fares were cheaper I’d be even happier!  The show itself has strong educational and environmental credentials and looks like it should be a lot of fun too.  So good luck to whoever does get the parts and it should be worth going to see, if they’re in your area.  You can see more about the show here.

But this wasn’t the end of the day for me, having got away early I went to the bus stop and remembered I’d left my bag behind in time to watch a bus arrive at the stop, (it wasn’t a big deal as they were every 10 minutes anyway).  I got my bag, caught another bus and discovered that there was an earlier train I could catch.  There was another earlier train from Manchester to Lancaster, though this proved to be a bit of a squash as for some reason half the train didn’t arrive and still had the same number of people wanting to travel.  I was one of the lucky ones who had a seat throughout.

When I arrived in Lancaster at around 5pm, however, my worst fears were confirmed.  There would be no trains to Bentham till the 7.24pm one I would have been catching had I stayed till the end of the full audition day.  I might have been able to catch a bus sooner, but I’d paid an arm a leg for the train ticket, so I was darn well going to catch the train and not shell out for more transport.  I did shell out for my evening meal and two cups of coffee to pass the time, but that was more like a treat than a bus ticket would be.

For those who are interested, my van is now in the care of my local garage who is going to fix it and make it all better.  The bang I heard was the cam belt breaking, apparently, and unfortunately the valves also got bent subsequent to that.  But fixing it will be considerably cheaper than purchasing another van, so I should have it for a good few years yet all being well.

I guess the next big outing i have coming up will be the “Culture & Tourism: Realising the Value” on March 5th at Fountains Abbey.  It will be interesting to see if my van is well by then or not.  In the meanwhile I’m touting for work in schools at the end of March, so if you’re a school and would like a puppet or toy theatre work shop, let me know and I’ll send you some information.  All the best till next week!

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