I just got back from a 6 week tour around the south of England with Rhum & Clay, touring a show we first made back in 2012. I thought last time we said goodbye that would be it (as I said at the time) – so you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted about a 2015 Rhum & Clay tour. A Strange Wild Song was the first show I wrote for professionally (I was still in university at the time) and the subsequent touring accompanied my weird, final year in education when I was also very unhappily living at home.
It was kind of amazing to revisit the show, to redevelop and tour something we’d created so long ago. In the world of independent, original theatre, it’s very rare to be given the opportunity to redevelop a piece and I was so grateful to have the experience. I cringed at my earlier choices in music; who uses 7 different instruments in the same show? The old music was incohesive; I was more than happy to go back and change that (…although it still uses 7 instruments). I had lots of fun getting back to the unique “ramshackle” Rhum & Clay dynamic the guys have, both on and off stage. It was great fun becoming part of the fabric of a show; long rehearsals and a lengthy run where everybody starts to mesh together – I’ve not been part of a cast in a while. And as I said, it was a relief to visit the sea. In a weird way, I realised how unhappy I was during previous tours, leaving to return to my difficult Masters and taxing home life. This time I had no worries or doubts from the rest of my life to creep in: when the time came, I was happy to head home and touch base with the rest of my world.
Nelson Mandela said there’s nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. For me, that place that remains the same is apparently not a set place at all, but a rented van crowded with set and costumes; a small stage in a new theatre by the coast; a cold pint in a new pub with old, inside-out friends; a stranger’s spare room and home-cooked breakfast; the stool behind a whole host of pianos that rarely get played.
Thank you everybody involved in the tour and for allowing me this experience to come back to the project!