And then there were none. Counting down the stops, ticking off the towns, you’re bound to reach the end at some point.
For ‘Team Weather’, the final performance of what has been a beautiful regional tour of my play, The Weather and Your Health, across NSW and Victoria, took place earlier this week — exactly two months after it all began.
Have you ever driven through a place and thought, “Gosh, people actually live here!” I’ll admit, I had that feeling a number of times on this tour. We would arrive in a town (or village, or ‘place’) and, without meaning to, judge it according to its infrastructure, look and feel. This was all done from within the confines of our touring vehicle, mind you.
Once we’d arrived, the next step was to discover our venue for that day – whether a theatre, a community hall, or a recreation centre, someone would be there to greet us. Someone would give us a tour. Someone else would sell tickets or start setting up tables for the supper…and all of a sudden the character of the place we were in would shift to accommodate the character of the people living there. In other words, a town comes to life when you meet the people.
Back in my own living room today as I unpacked my tour case and looked over the tour itinerary, I found the memories of each place were tied to the conversations I had with the locals over a cuppa at the back of the hall. From now on, when Shepparton comes up in conversation, I’ll remember Thelma and Jack (a couple who have been together for over 80yrs) sharing with me their experiences of poverty, war, and old-time dances. When I see Colac on a map, I’ll remember the animated discussion between locals in the theatre foyer as they debated the year Fossey’s department store was established. When I think of Edi Upper, I’ll remember sitting down to share memories with Alan and Elizabeth, posing for photos with Lucy, chatting in the kitchen with Marj…
When an adventure such as the one we’ve had comes to a close, a person is forced to reflect and reminisce. If we’d simply bumped-out, packed the car and headed home to our motel rooms each night instead of sharing supper with our audience after the show, I’d say I would have tired of the demanding tour schedule pretty early on. As it was, I found our time in the foyer collecting stories and hearing responses to the play to be one of the most satisfying, rewarding and energising aspects of the tour. That, and the scenery. I have to mention the scenery.
At times, the world outside our car was breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the sight of green rolling hills, rugged coastlines, golden crops and blue skies. Nor had I considered ever having to brake in order to allow an Emu to cross the road in front of us. (The best things in life are free!) Looking out my window, I was constantly given reasons to be thankful for the opportunity to take my work on the road, and off the beaten track.
Another reason to be thankful is the team of people I was fortunate enough to share this experience with. I couldn’t have asked for a more professional, positive, energetic, kind and passionate pair. We bonded at an almost alarming rate and, boy, did we laugh! My advice: If you are ever to embark on a project like this, be sure to secure the right people for the job, as you really do spend every waking moment together. I can’t thank Ryan Barwood and Andrew Dodds enough for their hard work and the good times.
You really do learn a lot about life while on the road. At first I felt that I had removed myself from reality in order to tour my play for weeks on end. I’ve since discovered that, though forced to live out of a suitcase, life on tour is the real deal. We are meant to live life to the full, taking in the world around us, connecting with others and doing something we love. For me, this tour was all of these things and more. I very much look forward to doing it all again sometime…
The Weather and Your Health will be touring nationally in 2012.
Visit www.bethanysimons.com for updates.