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Tour Memories #5 - Claremont Farm

Claremont Farm is another fairly recent addition to the OTG touring schedule. A popular destination on the Wirral already, with its outstanding farm shop and seasonal 'pick-your-own' assortment of fruits, from the second we first arrived it felt like a no brainer that OTG and Claremont be paired together. The proprietor and our point of contact for Claremont, Andrew, is always so easy going and helpful, often leaving us to do our thing with a mutual trust between ourselves and the venue - we love to see it.

Prior to performing at Claremont Farm, our next closest venue was opposite the Bridge Inn in Port Sunlight, which was always home to a few odd memories. As a result of this nostalgia trip in itself we've decided to combine the two here to create a fuller view of the evolution of this part of our touring calendar:

Chloe H - A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I can’t remember the name of the place (it was Claremont Farm!) but the one where the helicopter came over at the most perfect time during Phil Rayner’s speech!"

Connor W - A Midsummer Night's Dream

"Phil dealt with the helicopter like an absolute pro, pausing as it whirled around the stage and the audience laughed at the awkwardness of it all. It seemed to last an eternity!"

Dan M - Every year.

"I have a problem with Claremont Farm. The problem is we always seem to get there early, which leaves us plenty of time to look round the farm shop. Which always leads to spending far too much money in their deli. Damn. I’ve thought about it now. Off to find the car keys…"

Tomo - Around the World in 80 Days

"Claremont Farm - the home of the background motorway sound track. The place to pick your own, the shop of wonders and the ground I found I could really get the steadfast, resolute, staunch, firm, constant, decided, determined, fixed, ingrained, unswerving, unwavering, unvacillating, unfaltering, unflinching Nick Crosby from Crosbie and Welsh wizard Grace Goulding to potentially crack and lose their professional shizzle. The scene was set, Fogg and his companion had to make it across the seas to carry on their adventure. Cue the semi-sighted, salty sea dog captain. The tuna tin stuffer from south west of county Cork. While I buffooned my way around the stage milking all that I could lay my hands on, including an inflatable pink flamingo that would serve us well across the seas. The only problem was I demanded Nick help me in and out of the rubber dinghy craft. Cue all hell breaking loose, of me grabbing and pulling, stepping and tripping, walking away, and back and leaving poor Nick and a Grace to deal with whatever ridiculous nonsense I could create. I still maintain that as long as the audience laugh I am allowed to turn a 30 second transition in to a 5 minute routine. They were laughing right... right? Ah well, point at the light and I'll follow ya finger. Exits singing Titanic theme. Only 15 more times we'll have to do this scene!"

Connor W - Zorro

"Claremont Farm was the first place my partner and my family came to see my debut play, I'm pretty sure. It was a very special moment for me to share that with them after the fact. It's always a solid venue and is often one that our reviewers come to, which is handy as it's always packed with a super-enthusiastic audience!"

Dan M - Unknown (Port Sunlight)

"On a night when it was already raining a bit and our stage was under trees, which just amplifies the noise of the rain, the bells from the church just 100 yards from our performance area began to toll. On stage we were already shouting the important bits of the plot, and the church bells really put pay to the audience's chance of hearing anything. Stew, our producer, went over to the church to ask for a little Christian forbearance when it came to the bell ringing but, in the words of another cast member, Daniel Cambridge, "some deep rooted inter-village politics going on meant, basically, no they would not give bell-ringing practise a rest for that one day of the year.” Then they slammed the door in Stew’s face. So we carried on shouting. We had so many interruptions from rain showers that year that our musician, Pete Raven, had created a playlist to stick on while we had a pause. I know it began with Travis and 'Why Does it Always Rain on Me?' as we heard it so many times."

Daniel C - The Musketeers (Port Sunlight)

"This whole blog thing has led to some pretty heavy nostalgia for me. I've just been reading a programme from 2003, Swing in the Willows, which came at a time I was really heavily involved in Off The Ground. It was peak time for me and OTG - I had written my first play for the youth theatre, Swinging Cinderella and her Fairly Godmother; I was teaching and directing at the youth theatre; I co-directed tour with Dan; and I'd been running stage combat workshops up and down north Wales with Jon. The next few years were similar but life took me in a different direction round about 2007. By The Musketeers I hadn't had any kinds of OTG credits for a few years, so I was keen to rekindle it dormant relationship and write something new for tour. I really loved the script writing process, but steered clear of rehearsals so that I would be able to watch it fresh on stage. I left it a couple of shows so that the cast would be on their toes by the time I got to see it and I had never been to a show at Claremont Farm, so I picked that one. The people at the v