MEASURE FOR MEASURE has been touring venues throughout Europe, and will be performing its home run at the ADC Theatre this week. We spoke to the Tour's Manager, PHOEBE SCHENK, about what it's like to organise an international theatre tour.
What has the process of managing a theatre tour been like?
Full of surprises. Compared to the average show where you’re pretty used to a familiar production process, ETG brings its own set of unique scenarios both on tour and whilst in preparations for it. Whether it’s negotiating with a tricky customs official about lighting equipment, or producing extensive educational resources for schools to continue using well after our visit - the varied output of ETG’s activity is truly amazing and it’s been fascinating to coordinate.
While it can be extremely challenging, the rewards are definitely worth it. The thrill of completing a taxing seven hour get-in just in the nick of time as house opens, running a particular energetic workshop where a couple of students might come up to thank you after, or watching the sunset over Amsterdam harbour from the deck of the boat you’ve commandeered for the weekend - there are some memorable highlights.
Do you feel like the show has changed after touring it around Europe?
Everyone says this about a touring show, but you really can’t overstate it. Each audience is completely different, from age to English level, to the reasons they’re attending. It’s a difficult brief but you do have to try to somewhat cover all bases, or be as adaptable as you can to each audience.
As I’d be sitting with the headmaster or theatre manager, it could be a little nerve wracking trying to gauge their reactions. We’d get feedback after - some crowds love a lot of action and music, while others would be enraptured by a particularly intense duologue. It’s an interesting balance of taking their opinions into account while maintaining your own vision - you’d often find the next school preferred the complete opposite!
What has been the strangest venue that you performed the show in?
We went to this fantastic theatre in Amsterdam that had been converted from an old bath house, though inside it looked more like a circus tent, with its distinctly circular shape around a central chimney. Said chimney did mean there was a working stove in the middle of the stage which did require some convincing to ensure a fire wasn’t lit during our get-in... Festooned in fairy lights, it did have a really intimate atmosphere that was fantastic for the performers.
Otherwise in Leuven, the University building had been partially converted from a monastery that did still have practicing monks walking up and down the hallways. We performed in the old movie theatre where the monks used to screen their own approved films.
What can audiences expect from the Cambridge home run?
Polish. It’s been such a pleasure to see the show develop to reach that level of confidence you’d normally ever reach on the Saturday night of an ADC run. The average show turn-around is seriously impressive in Cambridge (3-4 weeks), but having the luxury of nearly 3 months to rehearse has meant performances have had the opportunity to organically grow and change over time. The technical side of things has been equally impressive and our team has worked extremely hard to refine the show over time, and I hope audiences will be wowed by the high production value.
And finally, they can expect a lot of fun. It’s such a rare treat to see a Shakespeare that’s not one of his standard ‘classics’, and particularly one that really has such resonance in today’s political climate. Because the performance and tech has become almost muscle memory for the company, it’s lovely to see the actors playing with the text to keep their characters fresh. As it’s such a complex subject matter where each character’s experience and perspective is so revealing and insightful, it’s interesting to see the story unravel in a slightly different way each time.