Tour Memories #15 - Bantry House
If you've never visited Bantry Bay, what are you playing at? In fact, with that said, if you've visited Bantry Bay and not visited Bantry House, what are you playing at? Imagine a cross between Downton Abbey, Incan Mexico, Victorian hedgerows and mazes, colonial lawnscapes, and glistening Atlantic views. It's that good. Then imagine that the majority of the people you might meet in such a place are incredibly friendly, up for a drink and a laugh. That's pretty much Bantry. Our audience there took a while to grow, but it now ranks as one of our fiercest in terms of support. Our Bantry audience truly encapsulate what our version of outdoor theatre, with a picnic, a blanket and something to drink, is all about. Last year they even did it in awful rain!
Read about some selected memories from our previous years below, as well as a couple from the beautiful Eagle Point campsite - also worth a visit just for the views, if you're down that way!
Connor W - Various
"I will never forget rocking up to Bantry House for the first time and seeing where we were set to perform. What an unreal backdrop it is. If you could paint a picture perfect scene to hang behind our stage, of green hillside stooping down into glistening waters, dotted with sail boats and the sun shining down on it all, you still couldn't do a better job than what is already there.
When the wind blows and it rains, that's a different story. It was a mighty relief to discover we could fit our show in the smaller lawn round the side of the house when the weather was bad, as when it is windy at Bantry it is pretty unforgiving indeed!"
Ellie H - Zorro
"Ah Bantry... the most breathtaking views looking out over the water... The stunning gardens leading up a hillside... and a creepy ghostly experience. After a lovely show and a gorgeous sunset the cast and crew of Zorro were packing down the gazebo and loading the van. I played a cameo role as Gina the peasant (her backstory is for another time) and whilst getting out of my costume in one of the upstairs rooms of the house, I realised I was the last one up there. It’s worth noting we had looked around the house earlier on before the show, and seen lots of beautiful Victorian bedrooms, and in one of the smaller rooms, a very creepy looking cot. As I was packing up my costume, I heard a very loud and clear baby gurgle and laugh. Thinking that an audience member was chasing their toddler around the hallway outside, I poked my head around the door to find a very still, quiet and dark landing. I called out and got no response, so shut the door and stood there feeling very uneasy. A few minutes later Nick Crosby from Crosby came up to check everything was cleared, and I told him about the baby noise, to which he assured me there were no audience members left, or indeed, any babies around. The rest of the trip, at creepy moments, Nick made his eyes wide and shouted ‘MAMA’ at me with his arms outstretched. I have learnt never to be the last one to get out of costume ever again!"
Matty G - Around the World in 80 Days
"Laser questing whilst the other half of the company went hunting for fairies."
* Nope, not going to give any context at all for this one.
Connor W - Sinbad
"I remember on the Sinbad tour looking at the pre-sold tickets for the Bantry show and feeling pretty glum about it. We hadn't sold too well, and it was looking a little bit like Bantry, for all it's beauty, might be on the verge of having its last year for OTG. It's always a horrible position to be in when you want a venue to work so well, and that was absolutely the case with Bantry. The new management had just started running events there, and they had been so incredibly helpful in our booking and promo of the show. When they had heard of the lower sales, they pushed even harder. We arrived and set up as usual, the cast none the wiser really, which is always important up to a point in the day. Around half an hour before we were due to start, a large group arrived, followed by another, and another. People who had been sat drinking in the pub and decided to come out to support us, or who had always been planning to, but had spread the word in the pub and attracted a crowd themselves. Of course, them having come from the pub, it was a joyous crowd to perform to. Afterwards there was a real sense of optimism, particularly from those who had been in previous years to Bantry, that we had found our audience in the town. Long may it continue!"
Rob K - Zorro (Or The Perfect Storm, who knows?)
"Having not toured for a few years I decided to visit the gang on the road once more, this time with my wife, Ange. We’ll stay at Eagle Point campsite, I said, it’s beautiful. It is. Apart from when the Atlantic Ocean decides to unleash it’s full force. Whilst walking in the wilds Ange snapped ankle ligaments. It took us 4 hours (and an enforced adventure poo from me) to get her back to the car. No medical centres in Bantry open. Ankle seriously massive by now. Nearest A&E? Cork. 5 hour round trip. Arrived back at Eagle Point at 2am in the midst of an horrendous storm. Crutched it from the car park to the tent (in sleeting rain) to find the tent had been beaten up by the Atlantic storm. It was when Ange was using one of her crutches as a support for the canvas that I thought we might be in a spot of bother. It felt like I was on a movie set on a ship. In a storm. At 3.30am I got hold of the campsite owner and pleaded for help. She very kindly came out to help us and arranged to put us in the campsite TV room for the night. I got Ange in and managed to find some rocks to weigh the now dead tent down. Had a beer to steady the nerves at about 5am and fell asleep. Woke up 2 hours later needing a wee only to find I couldn’t unlock the door of the TV room. Neither could Ange (that made me feel a bit better actually). Thank God we had a 2l bottle of water with us, which quickly became 2l of something else. Waited till 8am when the campsite opened and had to call the owner again. This time to say we had locked ourselves in the TV room. Of course when she came, it opened effortlessly first time when she tried. After a beautiful couple brought us breakfast and made us both cry a bit, I bundled the tent and it’s belongings somehow into the back of my car, we found a nice hotel in Bantry. By midday Ange was having a long soak in our beautiful bathroom whilst I was having some beautiful Murphys and Bushmills in a local pub. I think it was possibly the most challenging 24hrs I’ve had on a “holiday”."
Connor W - Zorro