Tour Memories #9 - Royden Park
Royden Park is the true home venue of OTG. If the Premier League were deciding whereabouts to award OTG the trophy after a record-breaking season of results, Royden Park would be it. Big crowds, big atmosphere, big performances - and when things do go wrong there, big moments... read about some of our memories of Royden below:
Connor W - A Midsummer Night's Dream
"It's always such a buzz performing at Royden. Everyone in the cast is made well aware of how much it means to be performing in front of a proper home crowd, and you can feel that electricity all night. When it goes just right, it really is an entirely different outdoor experience. We knew it had gone just right on Midsummer's, when, right at the end of the performance, during the final dance, my baby cousin, Thomas, entirely of his own volition, jumped up and joined in the celebration with us. Felipe has always been a star player, and he was outstanding at adapting to the situation then as well. It was, fortunately, caught on film by one of our audience members, making it even more special for the family and I."
Andy B -
"This photo at Royden means the absolute world. There was nearly a castful of past tourers in the audience for Around the World in 80 Days. All a little older, all a smidge creakier but laughing from start to finish at one of the strongest, finest tours to date. It’s not just a theatre company, it’s family." *
* Photo below!
Jordan C - Around the World in 80 Days
"Royden was where it all began, first seeing Around the World in 80 Days in 2017 and then performing on tour 2 years later in Midsummer's, and thats why Royden has a special place in my heart."
DJ - Various
"Royden Park - the generator. Every time. Just the generator. And Bob heckling several times “Tell us a joke!” during a joke telling scene."
Connor W - Sinbad
"Dan has summed it all up better than I will ever be able to do a little below, but generator problems at Royden, or at any venue for that matter, are not entirely new. You can't always rely on the equipment you have, and that's when the mentality of a company is really tested. That night on Sinbad, for me, was the best and worst of this. The worst, in terms of Royden Park is the show everyone looks forward to, it's the big one in the UK leg, with an enormous home crowd, and the generator problems immediately robbed our cast of that buzz. The second, more positive part of the experience, is in the highlight of what it means to be part of a tour - you muck in together, whether things are going well or not, and you get the job done. The audience barely noticed the absolute tech nightmare we had that night, and that's a total credit to our cast for being the consummate professionals they are."
Matty G - Various
"Having to prolong every entrance and exit down the longest middle aisle ever, due to it being the biggest (and best - you don’t have to include that bit!) audience we get, always makes for some very entertaining improv to start each scene!"
Rob K - Peter Pan
"I think it was during the performance of Peter Pan at Royden I lay down the gauntlet to the phantom cheer leaders of Bala who Tomo referenced in a previous blog. It wasn’t Hungarian dessert wine this time, I think it was beer and whisky. But whatever it was, I was glorious. So were the cast I hasten to add. The 2nd half is definitely a bit clouded. The debutants had definitely been prepared for Ireland. So I told myself as I struggled to fold up my camping chair at the end of the show. Encore!"
Dan M - Sinbad
"Royden is a wonderful venue and always feels like coming home. There are usually so many friends, parents of friends, past tourers, students and ex-students, not to mention my family, my mum and her cast proof picnics (by cast proof I mean she’s learned to bring enough to feed the family and then some more to feed the second family on stage) there that there is almost a celebratory atmosphere every year. This also means there’s a certain pressure to do a good show.
We have had many wonderful nights at Royden but I still haven’t quite recovered from Sinbad two years ago. There is no electricity feed within 250 yards so we use a generator at Royden. The generator is hidden away in the woods and you very quickly get used to the low background hum it makes. I was in the audience two years ago when I noticed the generator tone changing, normally a sign that you’re drawing too much power from it or that its running out of petrol. I knew neither of these things could be the case as the lights weren’t on and we were only half way through the first half. I told myself to ignore it and that it wasn’t my problem. Then it went off altogether.
It sputtered back into life but was still making terrible noises (albeit quiet ones that hopefully the audience didn’t notice too much) and I couldn’t stay in my seat any more. I wasn’t sure I could help much but I at least I’d be able to join in with any panicking that was going on. We could get through the first half with no power but there was no way we’d be able to do the second half, and having to tell this audience they were going to have to go home early was a horrible thought.
By the time I’d got backstage (backstage is a bit grand - by the time I’d walked behind the audience towards our tent) Operation Knackered Generator was already well under way. Connor had managed to confirm that we basically had a very duff piece of kit, and he’d managed to do this while not missing any cues which is no mean feat. All possible solutions including cancelling were being discussed when Si, our completely unflappable company stage manager, jogged over (Si jogs much faster than most of us sprint) to tell us that he’d just spoken to the management of the hotel in the grounds and we could use their power - as longs we could get to it.
We had about 90 metres of power cable with us but were going to need twice that much. There was a sudden flurry of activity with four or five of us on our phones, calling contacts, checking when supermarkets were closing, seeing which friends could help. I knew we had a fair bit of cable in the drama studio where we run YT classes so I sped off there. Luckily we had more than I remembered.
By the time I got back (I wasn’t calm jogging like Si, I was sweating and speeding) the second half was about to start. The cable we had had been attached to our new feed (which was miles away, over a road and through a rhododendron hedge) and as soon as I got there the spools from my car were grabbed and taken to plug in. Stew, our tour producer, arrived moments later with 8x 10m lengths, all that was left in Sainsbury’s, and we all went and frantically plugged, waterproofed connections, and then tested the lights and sound.
And it worked! The second half went splendidly and the audience were none the wiser. The closest they got to realising the catastrophe that was occurring backstage was a brief announcement to tell them we had encountered technical difficulties before the second half. I swear, and I know I’m not alone in this, I don’t remember anything of the show that night. We went for a well earned curry after the show and I do remember needing a fairly strong gin to go with it!"