Once again, leaving Lithuania requires me getting up ridiculously early. This time it was the need to get to Vilnius airport by a little past 6am for an 8:10 flight, which, after changing planes twice, would ultimately land me in Tenerife later that day where I would meet up with the rest of the Aga-Boom gang for a series of shows in the FIC clown festival. The nice thing, though, was that I had a ride this time. Simas, Monika’s brother, kindly offered to give me a lift, so he was at our place at 5. So, while Rasa and Monki slept, I headed out the door for a 6 day trip.
The flights themselves were uneventful, a nice change from the last time I flew, with short stops in Amsterdam and Madrid before finally flying over the ocean to the largest of the Canary Islands. I landed and was met by a representative from the festival and after picking up a couple other performers, we headed to the capital city of Santa Cruz. So far so good. Got checked into the hotel and sent Iryna a message to find out our plans for the next day. Our schedule promised to be a bit grueling, with 4 shows in two different theatres over the course of the four days we would be there. And the first show was the next day, in a town about an hour away on the other side of the island.
With no word from anyone else, I headed out for a wander and to grab a bite to eat and was heading back to the hotel when I actually ran into everyone and so joined them, and several other performers (a troupe from Israel), at a cafe across from the Santa Cruz venue. Our team consisted, as usual, of Dimitri and Iryna and their son Anton who was doing sound. But we had a new third clown, a new Dash. All the other shows I’d done with them, Dash had been played by Jesse Highly, but he couldn’t get out of some other engagements so this trip we had fresh meat in the form of Zack Pattee, another Vegas performer. It was really nice to see everyone, certainly, but at the cafe, Zack and I ended up sitting at the far end and chatting.
I’d looked him up on Facebook and noted we had a number of mutual friends, mostly magicians and performers from Vegas. That made sense. But for me, part of the benefit of working Aga-Boom shows, in addition to keeping my theatre jones at bay, was hanging out with a native English speaker who shared some of my interests and was able to dish about people we both knew back home. With Jesse, this worked out beautifully, but I knew nothing about this Zack guy so it could go either way. So we chatted. And it was great. Our conversation ranged from magic, to people we knew in common to comic books and dragons and music and whatever else. This was going to be okay. Of course, he and Anton had just flown in from the US (Iryna and Dima had come in a few days early to do promotional work) and I’d been flying all day as well, and the next day we had to get up and be ready to go by 7:30 so we all hit the sack early.
We all met in the hotel restaurant for breakfast before loading the van with all the props and heading out to the Auditorio Infanta Leonor Arona in Alcalá. From my perspective, these one day shows sucked. It meant that we had to load everything in, set up all the lights, go over all the cues, rehearse if possible and then load it all out at the end of the night. Here, though, we had hoped for something a little different. Over the past several weeks, Iryna and I had been going back and forth with Angus, whom I assumed was the technical director for the festival. He had been drawing up lighting plots based upon the specific layouts of the two different venues where we’d be playing so theoretically, we’d be able to walk in, build our paper wall and start setting up cues right away. This would be great, since Zack was new to the show, it would give him a chance to rehearse and allow for a nice, stress-free performance.
We walked in and there was nothing set. The instruments were being hung as we got there, but really, we were starting from scratch. Frustrating to say the least. So then the real work started. Now, I’ve already talked about how these days go, so no need to rehash it, because here’s the thing: no one cares about the work we do before showtime. All the running around and yelling and cajoling and rigging and problem solving doesn’t make a lick of difference to the audience coming in. And that’s really what it’s all about. The fact we’d put in twelve hours before showtime and were destined to put in another hour and a half (before the hour long drive back to Santa Cruz) afterwards, well that’s our part of the contract. The other part is the audience comes in and they enjoy an effortless show, which makes them laugh and scream and clap and yell (thankfully, I had the time wrong and our show was at 8, not 7, which meant we actually pulled it off!). And if things get cut or changed around or aren’t exactly the way we would like them to be, it doesn’t matter as long as the audience walks out of (probably) their only time seeing our show happy they had come. And that we delivered, hands down.
And the next day, when we had to do it all over again, the set up in a new theatre, this time the Theatro Guimera in Santa Cruz, and do two shows (with barely an hour between them for clean up and reset), we still completed our part of the bargain and those audiences left happy. Was there backstage tension? Most assuredly. We had tech guys who blacked out scenes way too early, we had tech directors who spent more time on their phones than actually paying attention to the show, we had kids rush the stage (which led to ushers getting mad at us when we didn’t trust them to do their jobs – mostly because they didn’t). But none of that mattered because the kids and adults who left the theatre were far happier than the ones who had arrived 90 minutes before.