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Tour Memories #10 - Gordale Garden Centre

Gordale Garden Centre is famous amongst Wirral residents - I defy you to find someone from the Wirral who doesn't know of it, or whose nan doesn't love it. Off the Ground were fortunate, about 4 years ago, to get chatting to Gordale and secure a summer show there. Since then the hard work of the venue in terms of promoting the events, the incredibly generous staff with all their help with the productions themselves, and the fabulous audiences we have attracted to the venue, have made it feel like a fitting way to end our UK leg of the tour, as it has the past few years. Tonight, read about some of the things that make Gordale a little bit unique (we've also thrown in some memories from previous, nearby venues, as Gordale is quite new on our touring schedule!):

Connor W - Various

"The bit I always think of when I think of Gordale is how much I look forward to setting the show up. There are some venues where the way things are run just make things so much easier, and Gordale is absolutely one of those. The staff get what we are about, what we are trying to achieve, and how best to go about it. Even before we arrive they have sorted so many different things that we usually expect to have to sort ourselves. (Even clearing out an entire warehouse so we have an indoor space for if/when it rains!) They are incredibly supportive and, for the last UK show, as it has been recently, it takes so much stress away as our thoughts begin to turn toward Ireland - it's an ideal venue to perform at, and the audiences are consistently brilliant too."

Ellie H - Sinbad

"Adam incorporating those birds into the scene during Sinbad - can anyone remember the context?!"

Adam M - Sinbad

"Oh my Gooddddddddd! What were they called? Because I was saying a list of things as part of the scene, and worked them in because they were being so bloody loud!"

Dan M - Sinbad

"Guinea fowl. Or bloody loud guinea fowl to give them their correct name."

Ciara D - Sinbad

"That made me laugh for hours. Adam had consistently put in amazing performances as Sinbad's right hand man, but he didn't stand a chance against the guinea fowl that night. Scene after scene they honked and flapped and interrupted, which the audience loved. Adam made the most of it with some amazing ad libs though, which got the audience even more on side, and made sure we weren't out-funnied by a confusion of guinea fowl."

Andy B - Swing in the Willows

"We were told off for playing music too loud as we were scaring the sharks, they would have died from too much jive and zoot overdoses." *

* This one confused us, as there are no sharks at Gordale. This was actually at a different garden centre near Nantwich. We believe the sharks survived, though they now require a very specific form of Shark Jive playing underwater for at least 3 hours every Wednesday.

Connor W - Sinbad

"One of my best mates came to see our performance of Sinbad here. It was the first OTG show he'd ever seen, and he'd travelled up just to watch it. Safe to say that, as I made my first entrance as a faux-psychic, swindling grandmother, he got his first real taste of the sort of chaos that goes into an OTG show!"

Eleanor M - Unknown

"Dress rehearsal at Ness Gardens when Dan Meigh punched Neil in the face breaking his nose! Oops!" *

* Dan would like to make it abundantly clear that he also then straightened Neil's nose for him! (After he had broken it, that is, not implying anything about Neil's nose pre-punch).

Dan M - Wyrd Sisters

"OK I think this day happened.

I can’t go into details because I’ve blanked a lot of it out. I may have made some of it up.

We had a lot of wonderful days at Ness Gardens. This wasn’t one of them.

On the way from Gawthorpe Hall one of our actors has an accident on the M62. He ends up facing the wrong way down the carriageway.

In his car are three of the leads who were due to do a TV interview that day.

The rest of us get to Ness early to do the TV slot with now famous sexual assault weatherman Fred Talbot. He doesn't turn up.

His cameraman turns up. Without a camera.

Due to this delay the people involved in the accident got to get freshened up. At that point, the driver’s back goes into spasm.

We notice smoke coming from behind our stage area.

The camera is located. They left it at the last job in Liverpool.

The smoke is coming from a fire in a compost heap in the gardens. We call the fire brigade.

The car full of actors turn up all looking unsurprisingly shocked but ready to be interviewed. The camera turns up just a bit later. The presenter doesn’t.

The garden staff come to check out the fire. Its getting bigger.

We’re due to go for dinner, but the lack of a presenter and the presence of a fire mean several of us have to stay behind.

Just as the last car leaves for dinner the presenter turns up.

The fire is getting bigger. The garden staff locate a stand pipe and have a big spanner to turn it on. They turn it on. Nothing happens. One of the staff looks down the pipe to see if there is a blockage. As if he is in a cartoon, the water immediately fires into his face. This is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen, although the staff member doesn't seem to share my amusement.

The presenter turns up. So do the fire brigade.

We do the TV slot as live as there’s no time to rehearse. No interviews are required.

We have 20 mins to grab a sandwich.

Over 300 people (many of them Terry Pratchett fans in costume) turn up to see the show. I think it goes alright.



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