Potatohead UK Tour 2022 - Evaluation
Project Aim- I will create a professional debut UK studio theatre tour and production of "Potatohead", visiting 8 nationally recognised venues over summer 2022. There will be a 3 week rehearsal period at Slung Low in Leeds, under the direction of Sh!t Theatre and a collaborative creative team.
Week 1 - Script and Character
Week 2 - Filming + rehearsals
Week 3 - Choreography, lighting design , video FX, sound FX
Week 4- Tech & Dress Rehearsals
OPENING NIGHT @ SLUNG LOW
SLUNG LOW RESIDENCY
During my 3 week residency I reviewed and edited my original script, worked on my movement and physicality, with Sh!t Theatre, Lydia Cottrell. We also prepared films, created a QLab file, lighting design, blocking and tour strategy. This was a highly creative time to develop new ideas and refresh the performance that had been created in 2021. With Sh!t Theatre we used clowning techniques, improvisation, writing tasks. Lydia Cottrell helped to develop my movement with tightly choreographed dances and physicality to improve the performance quality.
After opening night at Slung Low in Leeds which packed out the room with 100 attendees we packed up our things ready for the first stop on the tour. Lydia and I caught the train to London to Camden People's Theatre. I had 2 successful shows at CPT with great atmosphere and responses from the audience - " This is exactly what the world needs right now. Something stupid and silly"
The next stop of the tour was Brighton Fringe Festival via train from London. After winning the Luke Rollason Memorial bursary for the Brighton Fringe this was a big part of the tour- 4 nights at the Bosco Speigeltent . The big top was full with people laughing and my first reviewers for the tour. They cam back with rave reviews - 4 Stars from The Reviews Hub and FringeReview- "Fabulously Haywire"
A week later we travelled in the car to Bristol - Wardrobe Theatre. The 2 nights were again packed out with an extremely enthusiastic audience standing up and singing along to the finale. A very special 2 nights and a tour highlight.
The following day we drove from Bristol to York Theatre Royal with a sold-out show.
A few days after I travelled to Scarborough Stephan Joseph Theatre by car. This was a huge theatre with 160 seats. The trickiest theatre to work out logistically and technically. But overall a good show.
After a short break I gave a double bill performance at The Kings Arms Theatre. This was the most tiring of performances as I had to perform the show back to back and a break between shows made me feel unprepared. Next time I would not plan a double bill performance in 1 evening.
MANCHESTER FRINGE KINGS ARMS THEATRE
SCARBOROUGH- STEPHAN JOSEPH THEATRE
Leeds Seven Arts was a fantastic show with a packed out audience. If I were to do it again I would have spent more time on admin to make sure all technical information was sent beforehand. Using a producer next time would have supported me in this way and made sure I hadn't left any gaps in my admin.
YORK THEATRE ROYAL
BRISTOL- WARDROBE THEATRE
LONDON CAMDEN PEOPLES THEATRE
LONDON THE KINGS HEAD
I then travelled to Buxton Fringe for 2 performances. The audience were more conservative than I had experienced but I managed to bring them into the story and they couldn't help singalong by the end of the show. If I were to do it again I would have advertised more online and with print to bring in a larger audience.
I finished the tour in London at The Kings Head Theatre. This was the hardest performance by far as my technician was unavailable and I had a last-minute replacement. The heavy tech of the show meant there were numerous mistakes. The venues projector was also not working meaning the image projection was unclear. The venue also had thrust seating which I had to navigate. This meant half-way through the show I had to move the audience to the other side of the room. Next time I tour plan I will check that the venue is inkeeping with my needs as a performer.
I orginally planned to use train travel from Leeds-Bristol-York however these plans fell through and unfortunalty I had to use a car. I made up for this by performing locally in Leeds at Seven Arts Leeds and not travelling to Isle of Wight which would have been 273 miles by car. This replanning made sure I used a simiular amount of milage to what i had originally planned. I travelled with 3 suitcases via train between Leeds, London, Brighton, London again and Leeds. Travelling via train showed I was dedicated to my environmental impact of this project.
MARKETING & MERCHANDISE
Emily Hayes created graphic content for the production. A lot of audiences were sold on the appearance of the poster alone. She created various versions for print and online content. Receiving on average 100 likes and distributed around the country to pubs, theatres, art centres, colleges and cafes.
If I were to do it again I would have had a clearer social media content plan with a specific aesthetic rather than eclectic photos taken along the tour. I would have utilised the graphics for each post rather than posting them randomly.
Merchandise was created by Emily Hayes and I found a local environmentally friendly local source in Leeds - Picture2print. I overspent on the budget from £250 to £720 due to popular demand. I have an Etsy shop with regular sales made on the site. I wanted to use the merchandise as an extension of this project to brand myself as an artist and make alternative cash flows.
I presented 2 puppetry workshop sessions in Leeds- Holbeck at Slung Low. In the drop-in sessions children learnt puppetry making and performance. I worked with the children to develop making skills by demonstrating how to design puppets, craft and perform with them. This was a highly engaging activity and had a very positive response. Some children said "When I grow up I would like to be a puppeteer." I hope that these sessions inspired new creativity and a love for craft, puppetry and performance. I also hope to develop this as a future business venture.
PRESS AND MEDIA
Throughout the tour I made connections with Newspapers, Online Forums, Radio 4 and Radio Leeds as well national theatre listings and comedy listings including Chortle, Puppetry Forum, The Guardian and York Press. This created connections nationally and boosted my professional profile. It also increased my ticket sales which were much higher than predicted with over 850 people experiencing Potatohead live.
REVIEWS & ACHEIVEMENTS
I'm very proud of what I have achieved during this project. The positive response I received was phenomenal with national newspapers and reviews recognising my work. I have made life-long connections with institutions, artists and audiences.
I have also met contacts with political figures such as Kier Starmer who showed interest in my posters, newsreader Liz Bates, rockstars Julian Dean, comedians Charity Shop Sue, Steve Oram, Paul Currie and renowned critic Lyn Gardener. As well as artists Sh!t Theatre, Trash Salad, Frankie Thompson, Lucy Hopkins, Luke Rollason, Alice Cockayne and Christian Brighty. These connections will make me stronger as an artist in the landscape of puppetry, theatre and comedy.