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Tour Memories #17 - Philipstown House

It's hard to quite put into words what good hospitality does for a tired theatre company. By this point in the tour we are at our penultimate performance, we know the show inside out and we are cherishing every moment we have left performing it. And we have performed it in all conditions, as you will have read by now. That takes its toll on actors and crew, even if they are doing what they love to do. By this point in tour all we want is a warm welcome, some good food, an appreciative and generous audience (and a warm summer's evening). Well, Philipstown is the place for all of those things (and most of the years we've been, the warm summer's evening, too!) Our hosts are some of the most generous we have across our entire touring run, who are genuinely so, so passionate to see the show go well and to get the crowds in. Year after year we have arrived at Philipstown to find that food stalls, chutney and jam stalls, even craft stalls, have already set up, creating a fayre-like atmosphere of which we are the main attraction. It's a great feeling. Read some more about our memories of it below (as well as one very odd memory of a past venue not too far away):

Connor W - Around the World in 80 Days

"I think I laughed the most at any moment I've ever witnessed on stage, watching Tomo, Nick and Grace try to get through their opening scene of the second act of Around the World in 80 Days at Philipstown. I don't know if it was Tomo's ad libs (never!), Nick trying so, so hard not to laugh, or the moment he got completely pulled over an inflatable by Tomo, but I could not control myself. It wasn't ideal, as I was on in the following scene and I barely had time to compose myself and wipe the tears from my eyes before I got on."

* Words can't do it justice, so we've included the scene below!

Ciara D - Sinbad

"I remember performing Sinbad at Philipstown, and as we were reaching the end of the play the heavens opened tremendously. We, as you tend to do in those situations, sped up the last few scenes, but we weren't quick enough. By the last scene the rain was torrential. Connor, playing Myesha, couldn't put the dress on, which was formed out of a sheet that had been on stage throughout, so just looked like a man in a headscarf. Adam, who suffers with poor eyesight anyway, actually couldn't see a thing in the rain, so Pete had to guide him everywhere on stage. At one point he shouted 'I can't see!' to Pete's Sinbad character, and it wasn't really acting.

After the show the whole cast put in an incredible effort to get the show packed down and keep everything protected in what must have been record time. By the time we'd got things packed down everyone was drenched through. We all had food that we'd been waiting to eat that was also now quite wet. I remember Ben had somehow lost his t-shirt too, so was topless throughout until Kath lent him her transparent mac, which was now clinging to his naked body like some strange fetish outfit.

The owners let us into the house to dry off, eat, chat, warm up and play with the dogs. They were so, so generous and sympathetic. We had hot soup, and delicious cheeses, before our long drive to where we were staying that night. I genuinely don't know what we would have done without Robert and Annabel that night!"

Ellie H - The Musketeers

"When Tomo popped the bean bag..."

Dan M - Various

"For the first couple of years at Philipstown there was a chip van for the audience at the interval. Unfortunately, he couldn’t come the third year but was still willing to provide refreshments.How best to organise this then? I have never been at a show, though I think it should be common practice, where the venue owner stands up at the beginning, welcomes the company and the audience, then gets a pad out and takes a chippy order before the play starts. I want that to catch on."

Connor W - Unknown

"I'll never forget immediately before we went on to open a show at Philipstown, I forget which one, Tomo and I had been chatting to a very thickly accented, elderly Irish gent. Whether he was slightly tipsy or just happy to be there I'm not sure, but some very excited chatter was going on as the rest of the cast were getting to their starting positions. Just as Tomo and I insisted he should now take his seat and we should be on stage, he cracked a joke along the lines of 'how can you tell a baby from a man? The baby has hair on its head, but the man...', at which point he rubbed Tomo's head (not a whole lot of hair there) and wandered off without another word to find his seat. We struggled through that opening for trying not to laugh."

Ciara D - Around the World in 80 Days

"We often film the shows at Philipstown, it's got a lovely backdrop, the stage is compact enough to ensure the camera gets everything, and the cast are so, so familiar with the show it is usually as professional a performance as they come. That should imply that nothing goes wrong. It should.

When we were filming Around the World in 80 Days there, there was a moment when Alice and I had to leapfrog over each other across the stage at the opening of the second act. It just so happened to be right in front of where the camera was placed and focused on us. We'd got it right every single time in rehearsals, and for 17 shows to this point. On this night she jumped straight on my back like a piggy back, I wasn't expecting it and we both completely crumpled into the grass. Good job there's no video evidence of it, that would be embarrassing..."