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Tour Memories #13 - More Ireland!

Tonight continues our weekend trend of revisiting any and all previous Irish venues. Tonight however, we have a particular focus on a place that has generated so, so many memories for OTG over the years, Sherkin Island. Not all of the memories mentioned were entirely appropriate to publish, so please enjoy the curated selection of memories below!

Tomo - Cyrano de Bergerac (Blarney Castle)

"On a rare break in the wet Cyrano tour we had a day off at Blarney. It was only my second tour with OTG. The night before it was floated that there may be a few people going to play pitch and putt. I was a little cocky in my own golfing skill and was sharked into a 5 euro wager against Dan and Stew.... don't let the unorthodox look of a golfer fool you. These boys took me to town over the course and I was handed a lesson in the art of golf."

Daniel J - Various (Sherkin)

"Can't imagine anyone has any noteworthy Sherkin stories. Nice quiet one that."

Connor W - Peter Pan (Sherkin)

"I remember during Peter Pan, we had a crash mat hidden behind the staging, to enable us to pull off some impressive jumps off the back of the stage while playing Lost Boys. One of these moments, in which we escaped the pirates, they were left looking over the back of the stage for us. We would throw water up onto the stage to create the effect that someone had landed in the sea off the back of the stage. Our pirates had gotten very good at dodging the water we would throw (foolish of the directors to give 5 18/19 year olds litres of water to throw at their elders, to be honest). This time we were determined to get them wet, however. We all had a full cup of water ready to throw up at them as they peered over. In our eagerness to soak the older pirates, however, we somehow managed to throw the water straight up in the air. I'll never forget Tomo and Dan's faces as they realised just how much water was coming their way, nor their look of delight as they realised it had entirely missed them, as it came cascading back down onto all of the collected Lost Boys, wearing nothing more than shorts and t-shirts. As if this wasn't bad enough, about five minutes later, just before the interval, the heavens opened and it absolutely tipped it down on the already drenched Lost Boys. While the rest of the cast cowered in the gazeboes, Dan came on stage to announce to the audience that they too should shelter in the pub and that we would postpone the rest of the show briefly as the weather passed. None of the Lost Boys heard this. We were left at the back of the stage getting rained on until we realised everybody else, audience, cast and otherwise, had left. We crawled out, wetter than most of us had ever been, feeling that karma blow hard."

Daniel G – Unknown (Sherkin)

"This memory is from the first time I performed on Sherkin Island. This is a quick one. Sitting in the Jolly Roger I was introduced for the first time to the Noble Call. People shared a song or a joke or a story and ‘nobly called’ the next performer in the circle. We all joined in. It wasn’t forced or pretentious, it was just happening and it was lovely. There was a guy there who had been to the show, a really friendly bloke, slim, in his thirties. He was called and I was not expecting the song he chose or the voice that he had - Old Man River in a deep and sonorous voice that did not look like it would come from him. Many years of fun times and Noble Calls followed in the Jolly Roger and Islanders Rest."

Tomo - Unknown (Killygar)

"My first night in Ireland was a real turning point for me. The venue: Killygar. It was the night that cemented for me that OTG would be family for life. The show itself was bonkers with a free for all attitude from the audience, some of which wanted to watch from their car, imagine a drive-in cinema experience, but for theatre; the after show party with a band and the cast dancing in the VIP tent; the house that had severe fire damage in one wing that some of us stayed in, while the others camped on the lawn; the falconry display, and, because of all of this, the start of the now well-turned phrase at OTG - 'Dan.... is this normal?'"

Daniel G – Various (Sherkin)

"Rob K 'living the dream' and starting a year’s old tradition with joyous abandon."

Andy B - Various (Sherkin)

"Sherkin was often 'The Royal Commando Performance', where undies were optional. As You Like It year I was winding El up as to what was going to happen in this scene when I flashed under my kilt but, alas, as the big moment came I bottled it as a family in waterproofs chose that exact time to walk up from the marina on the path behind the stage. Probs for the best."

Connor W - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Sherkin)

"Last year in the Islander's, playing loads of darts games with the legend that is Jordan. He absolutely spanked me, but it got me remembering all the other times we'd sat in that corner of the pub with good friends, played darts with Eric, sang with Dan, downed pints with Pete. Many great memories just in that small corner of that little place."

Eleanor M - Twelfth Night (Sherkin)

Sherkin, Twelfth Night. Andy B and Dan as Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek playing in the grass. Care to expand guys...?"

Andy B - Twelfth Night (Sherkin)

"For the Twelfth Night tour we were down to perform in the field by the Post Office. The grass had been cut but not cleared so we were able to build a grass wall that was a good two foot high at the back of the stage. Needless to say this led to much high calibre acting/d*cking about. We all love a good entrance and it’s always good to start your lines a little bit before you get on stage to keep the momentum of the show going. During this tour I started my lines quite a lot before I got on stage so everyone turned round to listen. I hadn’t checked my entrance path and found I was being blocked by a small child having a massive slash at the side of the stage. The child was just staring at me. I got caught like a deer in pissy headlights and the audience looked on in confusion as a man delivered his first few lines of a scene to a kid having an adventure wee."

Joey W - Various (Sherkin)

"I have absolutely hundreds that come to mind and absolutely none of them are appropriate for a blog!"

Tomo - Unknown (Sherkin)

"I'd heard the term 'cheese running' all the way through rehearsals. For me I took the name literally. Little did I know that they were referring to the bailed up silage on the farmer's fields that, late at night, people would run across. Due to the look of the huge bails, seeming like massive wheels of cheese, they had been given the above nickname... However, once the cast found out I had misunderstood the term, Beth didn't disappoint and at about 4am chased me around the gardens of Sherkin with a hand full of cheese!"

Andy B - Merry Wives of Windsor (Sherkin)

"Merry Wives tour, something made someone giggle during “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman” and 3 of the 4 backing singers had to come off stage as they couldn’t continue, leaving Abbie supporting Steve and the rest of the cast backstage “helping”..."

* Photo evidence below!

Rob K - The Three Musketeers (Sherkin)

"Here’s a blog appropriate Sherkin!

The Three Musketeers. 1999.

We performed and camped in the back garden of the house next to the Jolly this particular year. As the audience arrived they walked through next to our tents before finding their seat/patch. One curious chap expressed an interest in the OTG HQ tent which Stew and I dutifully indulged him in but we hadn’t expected him to get his hair stuck in one of the entrance zips. He was in a sort of semi-crouch, a bit like a torture posture, whilst Stew and I tried to unpick his unkempt hair from the zip. It wasn’t working. The chap was getting quite concerned and the torture crouch was kicking in. I had a show to get ready for. I had to leave Stew to sort it. I’m sure he did."

Eleanor M - As You Like It (Sherkin)

"One of my most rubbish moments on stage was at Sherkin during As You Like It. It was the opening number - De Lovely, all was going well until it came to my verse. I completely forgot the lines and instead just made noises. This was bad enough but I managed to make the situation worse, trying to pretend I wasn't there by slouching over and getting quieter! Not the best plan when centre stage in the middle of a dance routine! Needless to say, this tactic did not work and just made the rest of the cast watching from behind the audience laugh even more."

Joey W - As You Like It (Sherkin)

"Hahahahah! Oh, El! I think we said “herhhh her herhhh heerrhh” to you for the rest of tour(/time)."

Connor W - Around the World in 80 Days (Sherkin)

"We'd been worried about the audience numbers for the performance at Sherkin, and with just 5 minutes to go until we were about to go on stage, we had something like less than 20 waiting to see us. It was disappointing, and we were preparing to cancel the show, sadly. With even less time to go to curtains up, a group of 7/8 arrived, followed by another, and another, and another. We ended up with about 120 in the audience. Absolutely madness. If you're a prospective audience member reading this, please don't do this to us. I beg you."

Joey W - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"It was also Much Ado where I remember having an absolute mind fart mid-song and improvising the words to Let’s Do It, and crowbarring members of the cast’s names in where the verse should have been. Luckily, Iona Farley rhymed with Charlie, so I don’t think anyone in the audience noticed. Should mention that it was being held in the playground of a primary school on Schull and we’d just used a reception classroom as our dressing area, balancing costumes and show props on chairs no more than 2ft high. So my brain-fart wasn’t the strangest thing to happen that night!"

Dan M - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"That was the day that Eleanor and I completely forgot how to act and just came off stage apologising to each other after every scene."

Rob K - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"To be fair Joey, you’d only found out you were doing that role a couple of days prior. That was the year Nat had to pull out and thee and me blagged our way on to the bus!"

Joey W - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"Hahaha! Yes Bobby!! We absolutely did. If you linger around long enough, they’ll forget you weren’t in the cast and count you in the mini bus numbers!

Winner Winner Steak Dinner. ($5 extra)."

Eleanor M - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"It was Schull where DJ got his microphone stuck up his sleeve mid-song, too!

He had to bring on 2 mics, one for him and one for Joey. He came up with the brilliant idea to hide them up his sleeves and whip them out with a flick of the wrist at the appropriate moment. The music started, we all gathered to watch as DJ flicked his wrists and only one mic came out! He handed it to Joey and then spent the rest of the song alternating between singing into his sleeve and surreptitiously shaking his arm about in an attempt to dislodge the remaining microphone. I don't know how Joey managed to get through the duet!"

Joey W - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

“Ever Fallen In Love Wiv’ Someone Who Got A Microphone Stuck Up His Sleeve?”

DJ - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"My finest show. Also the one where, for my first entrance, I ran on stage and fell over. Then for my second entrance I ran on, forgot my lines, and just shouted “HELLLOOOOOOO!” at Iona (and possibly Bry). First show ever in Ireland. Smashed it. Can’t hear that song without ‘Nam-style flashbacks."

Joey W - Much Ado About Nothing (Schull Island)

"It was our finest moment Deej. We had never been closer. Love you."

Eleanor M - Merry Wives of Windsor (Sherkin)

"That reminds me of one of my entrances for Merry Wives on Sherkin. I got distracted tickling Eric then burst out of the bushes with a slightly apologetic "hello", as if to say to Dan, 'sorry mate that's all I got, deal with it.' I added a little wave as well, I thought that might help..."

Connor W - The Musketeers (Sherkin)

"The day that we were due to leave the island, Pete and Tomo were doing their usual spiel of looking for the van keys. Usually, the question was asked by the person holding the keys to make the other worry, as a wind up. As such, when it was first asked on this day, nobody took it too seriously. It quickly became clear that it was not a joke this time, however. Pete and Tomo had to begin retracing their steps from the night before (they'd had a lot of Sherkin adventures) and the entire cast found themselves crawling through fields, electrocuting themselves on electric fences, turning bedrooms upside down, emptying bags, etc.

Eventually, somebody went to check through the minibus - somewhere the keys couldn't possibly be, in a desperate, last ditch attempt. Jack had been sat on the bus reading, oblivious to the situation, for what must have been almost an hour. When he looked up to ask what was being searched for, and was told it was the van keys, he responded so beautifully innocently with, 'oh, these keys?' and pulled them out of his back pocket. He was popular with Pete the rest of that day, as you can imagine."

Tomo - Various (Derreen Gardens)

"I have a real soft spot for Derreen. It's been a difficult venue to develop and maintain audiences. However, the hosts have and always will be amongst some of the most accommodating we have ever had. They have, year on year, offered us free reign of their amazing house and gardens. Charlie, a chef, also has cooked many after show meals for us, as well as freshly caught mackerel from the bay. A beautiful place to lose a few hours and gaze at the stars. Or if you're a little beer goggled, stare at the tops of the trees and mistake them for huge heads of animals shadowed against the night sky! Glorious."

Andy B - Various (Sherkin)

"So much of Sherkin needs to stay on Sherkin and that’s why it’s my happy place. So many stories but a few printable ones too. Seeing the clearest star show two summers ago when a few of us piled over to visit the cast was ridiculously stunning. Late night trips down to the sea. Cheese running, someone invariably losing the van keys and spending time crawling round on the floor trying to find them in the field. On time, while doing this, I wondered why Sam M had kicked me in the small of the back but soon realised that’s what it feels like to touch a real life electric fence. Songs in the Jolly, Norman being an all round legend and meeting awesome folk like Ethan who we saw grow up and are still in touch with now."

Tomo - Unknown (Lismore)

"Lismore was actually the home of the Brenny 'no pants, own gazebo' dressing room story Bobby K talked of earlier. I was livid."

* This is a correction to an earlier blog post that claimed it to be elsewhere!

Rob K - Swing in the Willows (Sherkin)

"I remember doing Swing In The Willows on Sherkin and just having the most amazing time during the show. Working with Andy B has always been one of my favourite things and being the Toad to his Ratty on this particular show was fantastic. The audience were right up for it and we smashed our way through the show, always just on the point of making each other laugh, doing new things with the show and reacting brilliantly with each other. Bren was a massive badger too. That was a great time, and a belting night/morning afterwards in the Jolly."

Andy B - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Sherkin)

"The particular field we performed on was also on a slight downwards angle. During A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2002 we were doing the encore song and we’re getting everyone up to dance. One lady got up to dance and her knee got badly twisted so she hit the deck. Tim hadn’t seen her plight and mid-song pointed her out for not dancing, delivering the well timed lyric “you ain’t been to heaven till you’ve been down there”. She had to get a special hospital boat off the island. A few years ago when we came to visit she was in the pub and we had a dance! What a babe!"

Rob K - Unknown (Sherkin)

"I’ll always cherish the moment when you ordered a round but then fell asleep at the bar whilst it was being serviced. The landlady promptly hit you over the head, sleepy eyes Andy B slumbered, handed over your money and fell back asleep. Ah, the Jolly."

Andy B - Unknown (Sherkin)

"That was perfect Irish hospitality and bad form from me for falling asleep “whilst being serviced”. Matron."

Rob K - The Three Musketeer (An Unknown Irish Venue)

"I was just out of my apprenticeship and playing with the bigger boys in The Three Musketeers. One night earlier in the run, a faux pas had been made with the line “Duelling is forbidden”. It had come out as “Duelling is forbodden”. We’d all had a laugh, even though I was a junior member I’d joined in. Scared shitless though as to what I’d do if that happened to me. I confided in an older member of the cast. A naturally very funny and naughty man, Dominic. Together with the older boys though, he planned. Playing the King, Dom hid under a wig. The line came. “Duelling is” pause. Looking directly towards me, knowing I had the next line, with a glint his eye that said deal with this one... “forbodden”. I uttered something which resembled my line before taking a short sharp stage right exit (as planned). I had to pass a money bag to the actor entering, Matt B, who was also in on the gag. His smirk was devilish. I’d been taken hostage. I’d come through. Just. I’d been schooled in corpsing. It was the first and last time it’s happened. Big thanks to the OTG apprenticeship scheme for training me so well."

Colm M - The Legendary 'Foot & Mouth Cancellation Year' (Sherkin)

"This isn't strictly about the summer tour in Sherkin but does involve said island, acting (in the broadest sense of the word) and members of OTG.

In 2001, being of sound mind and body, Dan somehow managed to get himself talked into providing a week's acting workshop for the youth of Sherkin and environs. Not wishing to be alone in his delusion, he subsequently persuaded me to act as Musical Director for said venture, a title which, I might add, is well above my pay grade at the best of times.

Since one good delusion deserves another, I dragged my long-suffering wife Tomomi and our tiny, one-year-old daughter Raena along for the trip, while Dan convinced Rick, Rebecca, Joe and Si Large to join us offshore.

Despite Dan outlining to the organisers certain restrictions regarding the age of the participants, it turned out that we were viewed as being trustworthy babysitters for a vast number of the denizens of West Cork. We were surprised and, as you can imagine, 'only delira' to discover this on our first day. Thankfully, as luck would have it, Rick and Rebecca were both able primary school teachers and certainly took one for the team by agreeing to take on these feral toddlers.

Fast forward to the day of the performance. This began with Dan giving Si the now legendary instruction to "get the bull out of that field". Of course, because Si is a superhuman wizard, this was duly accomplished.

The story we had come up with for the 'play' is far too complicated to get into here but it involved two separate groups of children on opposite sides of the island and a lot of walking (supposedly in character) between the two. Rick's charges were collectively to play the role of 'The Oracle' who was to be consulted about a monster coming to the island. Their 'costume' was a large sheet which we'd stolen off one of the beds where we were staying, which they held up in front of them.

After the kids had said their Oracle shtick they were supposed to appear from behind said sheet to greet their adoring fans (read: parents). However, Rick was so pissed off with how badly behaved the kids were, he refused to let them be seen. This meant that about 40 proud parents trudged the best part of a mile to look at a talking, squirming white sheet for 10 minutes and were too polite to say anything about it.

Without any explanation, we then marched said parents back across the island for the grand finale in Si's now bull-less field. The highlight of this was a horde of teenagers menacingly singing "We will, we will.... KILL YOU!" to the tune of the Queen hit, the proud product of my incomparable musical direction.

When I suggested this to Dan on the first day, he categorically refused to countenance it, deeming the lyric to be far too bleak and horrifying. Surprisingly, by day three, having become as feral as his charges, this had changed to "yes, we're definitely singing it, I've no problem with that at all!". Oddly enough, under the circumstances, the performance and the week was deemed a resounding success and everyone happily went home on the boat, leaving behind an OTG crew which was now a mere shell of its former self.

On a personal note, I have to again apologise to Tomomi for dragging her along. While I was blissfully occupied with all things drama, and in awe of the OTGers skill in teaching it, it turns out that there's not much fun to be had on Sherkin with a toddler in a buggy for 8 hours a day. In addition, being the kind and polite Japanese woman that she is, Tomomi only told me on the last day that she hadn't understood a word the Liverpudlians were saying for the entire week! I am not worthy."

Dan M - The Legendary 'Foot & Mouth Cancellation Year' (Sherkin)

"I’ve read your account of the week in 2001 which we spent creating something on Sherkin, and it nearly brought me out in hives as that is exactly how I remember it too!

I’ve copied Connor into this so he can include any bits he wants into the blog. It was definitely 2001, which was Foot and Mouth year, so there was no tour and we thought a week on Sherkin was a grand idea. The staff were you, me, Rebecca, Rick, Si and Joe (Joe toured a couple of times with us and has since gone on to be a regular at the National!)

I seem to recall that the reason that Rick’s kids were behind the sheet in the first place was that, every time we tried to get them to perform without the sheet, they all burst into tears. Maybe they were just visualising the rest of the production.

I had blocked out, “We will kill you,” though I do remember a version of Radiohead’s Karma Police, especially the line, “This is What You Get When You Mess With Us,” with a particularly fine improv whistle solo playing while thirty children rocked gently on a hillside. This was how the piece finished and pretty much expressed our mental state at that point. I think we were amongst the first onto the boat after the show, desperate to get to the mainland.

Speaking of boats, I’ve just remembered the morning of the storm. There was a proper gale blowing and the waves were crashing over the beacon on the other side of the harbour (which is a long way up for anyone else reading this). We could see all of this from our cottage and were happy in the knowledge that there was no way the ferry would make it over and we wouldn’t have to go and pick up 20 kids from Baltimore. But no, there was the little boat disappearing and appearing again between massive waves. Si and I were on duty and we sat on the deck for the journey over. I had just seen the film The Perfect Storm, and I might slightly be conflating our 20 min trip and that, but the waves were incredible. We had to use a different route to normal to make sure we weren’t blinded by the waves and at one point, from our seat in the middle of the boat, we could see nothing but water in front of us. At the top of the wave the driver cut the engines so we didn’t crash into the next one. Once in Baltimore we picked the kids up and then, in the name of safety, we were all battened down in a windowless cabin towards the back. After an interminable amount of time we arrived back on the island with a group of vomiting children ready to create another day of world-beating drama.

I remember watching Father Ted at some point late in the week and realising it wasn’t a comedy but a documentary about island life.

Let’s never speak of this again. And please apologise to Tomomi for me again."

* This is definitely what the weather was like (minus the blue sky!)


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