Wow! What a weekend. We had two shows to set up. Both of them were MR James stories, told by Nunkie Productions (aka Robert Lloyd Parry), one in the Wish Tower and the other in the Redoubt.
Almost all Friday was spent getting the Tower ready: we’d had chairs lent to us by Eastbourne Council events dept (thanks to Malcolm and colleague) but they had to be taken downstairs; the handrail to the spiral stairs need to be wrapped to protect people’s hands from the rust; torches had to be rigged; and posters put up.
We had a printed list of all the attendees and we were due to meet them in the Western View cafe at around 6.30pm.
Then disaster struck. Our performer got caught in dreadful traffic and wasn’t able to arrive on time. Thankfully, our audience was very understanding – a couple of them (thanks Peter and Terry) even helping unpack and assemble the set when Robert finally arrived about two hours later than he had hoped.
But by just after 7.30pm we were ready to start. Our audience assembled and then we turned out the torches and were lit only by candle-light as we listened to “Lost Hearts”.
At the interval, we had a brief tour of the tower and climbed onto the roof to see Eastbourne Seafront by night. Chilly, but fantastic. One of our number even took a photo.
We returned to the basement for our second story of the evening to hear “A Warning to the Curious” which has references to a Martello tower.
We were all finished by about 9pm and it was great to hear people’s enthusiasm for the stories and our venue.
It has to be said, some of us were very relieved to get home into the warm with the odd bottle of red to finish the event.
Saturday was altogether more relaxed for all concerned. We took Robert on a proper tour of the tower and chatted about its history and potential for performance in future. We have some great ideas now incubating.
We demounted the set, and then packed cars to take everything to the Redoubt to start all over again.
Our performance space this time was bigger and Lyndsay from the Redoubt kindly helped us set up the room.
With Fraser and Sam at the gate, guests were greeted and we were really pleased that we had quite a lot of ticket sales on the night.
As we turned out the lights for the start of the performance, there were gasps from the audience and the scene was set.
This time the first story was “The Ash Tree” and after the interval, and a chance to get another hot drink to stave off the chill in the room, we reconvened to hear “Oh whistle and I’ll come to you, my lad”.
The performances on both evenings were absolutely mesmerising and our audiences captivated.
It was great to find out that Robert will be returning to Eastbourne, this time to the Underground Theatre, on 27th & 28th June to perform a different show: his adaptation of HG Wells’ “The Time Machine”.
The show isn’t yet on their calendar, but you can contact Robert directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make make booking enquiries. You can see more about his work on his Facebook page, too.
All in all, a very tiring but extraordinarily successful weekend. We’re now working on future events so keep an eye on this website and on the Friends’ Facebook group. We’d love you to come along to our next one.
Big thanks to Robert for entertaining us, to those that came to the performance, and especially to everyone who made it happen from spreading the word, to delivering leaflets, to setting up the rooms and taking them down afterwards. A real team effort.