• OTGBlogger

Tour Memories - Finishing Off

So there's no show tonight, which means no venue to attribute memories to. What there would have been is one almighty party last night, followed by some very sore heads this morning, all faced with the prospect of a long journey home. At this point in tour, once everything is finished and you're on your way back, you find yourself really trying to savour every moment, but already acutely aware that it's too late for all of that, because really, all of the magic is over for another year. It's a little bit addictive, this touring lark, as any actor that's had a pleasant experience of it will testify to.

All that said, our tours can't happen without the hard work of the people behind them. The actors are always the ones that take the credit. They literally get to bow and thank an audience who cheer them on, but behind the scenes there's a whole host of people who not only never get their moment in the sun to celebrate their success, but who also very seldom seek for it. Tonight's blog, rounding off the end of what would have been our touring calendar, as we make our way home, is dedicated to, and focused on, those people that help us keep doing what we love doing year on year:

Colm M

"It's been quite the ride all those tour posts!

I would like to highlight Stew's role in OTG for the last 20 years. Everyone else gets the applause and glory on stage while Stew does all the jobs that no one else would want: collecting the money at the door, sorting out the money after the shows, minding the finances, shopping, cooking, driving, generally marshalling everyone to make sure they're where they're supposed to be. All the small things that add up to making sure the tours run smoothly. He really is worth his weight in gold and BBQ charcoal. And that's in addition to his poster and programme designs.

There must also be times when he feels completely overshadowed and taken for granted during the tours.

I also remember, in the early days of touring, he'd be doing all the above and continuing to work while on tour, every spare moment on his computer while everyone else was goofing off."

Andy B

"It has been amazing to read through all the stories people have shared in these past blogs. I’ve loved reliving so many memories, being reminded of things that had completely slipped my mind (performing in the library in Lisnavagh and Joey getting her basket stuck in the door, for one!) as well as hearing how more recent casts have enjoyed their experience. I’m very proud and protective of something that has been such a huge part of my life, so it’s amazing to see others sharing in the collective warmth of Off the Ground’s cuddly embrace. While audiences get to enjoy the hard work of the cast each evening, the tour itself would not be possible without those working behind the scenes. As one tour would end, thoughts would immediately turn to the next summer, planning would begin and it is so important to remember how many people are involved in getting a show up on its feet, from conception to performance. From Dan’s direction, Si’s incredible tech/van/physio skills, Iona’s production and Sue’s work booking venues and sorting so much from West Kirby, the cast had arguably the easiest task of just turning up and performing, not knowing any trials and tribulations that may have come their way and that had been quietly overcome. As so often is the case, when something runs smoothly, you don’t often realise that it’s because of the hard work of a production team who have thought ahead and made sure that everything is taken care of. Naturally, a special mention goes to Stew, who will always be such an integral part of tour. While there is genuinely no place for Stew on stage, it is literally his fault that I got embroiled in a decade of touring. After I finished my degree in 2002 I went away on a jolly to Prague and, while up to my eyeballs in absinth, I received an answer phone message from Stew asking me to call him back regarding a work matter. I’m so glad I did, as he asked if I was interested in joining what might have been the last hurrah for Off the Ground’s touring company. A year or so earlier, foot and mouth disease had put a stop to the tour and they wanted to collect a group of rag tag misfits who could to bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life. That year was such a special group that many people from that cast returned for many years to come, and Stew’s presence there made each tour all the better for everyone and Stew became a friend for life. From slowly sinking into the mud while sat on his camp stool to amazing everyone by his inability to whistle and clap at the same time, Stew’s contribution to my fond memories of a decade of summers are immeasurable. The fact that Stew and several tourers will make up my groomsmen at my wedding next year (should Covid-19 not postpone all things love based forever) shows the strength of friendship forged in a damp field while being eaten alive by mozzies. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

and finally, from Dan and Connor, on behalf of all of OTG:

Connor W

"I was pretty naive about what touring with OTG was when I first got involved. I certainly didn't think I'd still be doing it ten years later. But that's part of the charm of it - whether you tour once and only once, or whether you're like us weirdos that do it for 10 years in a row (20 years in some people's cases!) you still feel the same connection. It's part of a bigger legacy, and yet for the summer you're away it is just yourself and the cast and crew around you. Once it's all over, and it always ends too soon, I think most people know they've made friends they could count for life, and many feel like they've been welcomed into a very weird family.

OTG have already started undergoing some massive changes, and there's plenty more to come, but the summer tour will always be a place to keep that weirdness and bit of magic alive.

Personally, I'd like to thank everyone who has ever been a part of it, but most of all our audiences. Without them, there is no show, and we couldn't continue to do what we do. It's as simple as that."

Dan M

"There are so many people who make tour happen every year and who ne