THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT – THE “HIDDEN” 90 PER CENT
Note to the great weather organiser in the sky. Can you send some more of that fabulous sunny, warm stuff you so kindly provided last month, please? Especially for me and a hardworking group of fellow performers?
Remember that heatwave last month? Hottest June day since 1976! I missed it. Well, not literally missed it, but missed the opportunity to enjoy it.
It was all down to the “hidden” side of an entertainer’s life. When I tell you that, shortly after that heatwave broke, we headed out to Kuwait, experienced temperatures of over 40C and performed for audiences of over 2,000, you might feel quite envious of our “glamorous” way of life.
Not that I’m complaining of course! But the majority of our lives is anything but glamorous. Blood, sweat and tears – we genuinely experience it all.
But back to that UK heatwave first of all. What were we doing for most of that time, when temperatures hit historic highs?
Rehearsing…in London…cooped up in a sweaty, smelly rehearsal room.
While all my friends back in my beloved Cornwall were posting pictures of the sun-drenched coastline and swimming in the gorgeous sea, we were trapped in a room with no windows, no ventilation. This was our “home” for seven days of being put through our paces and stretched to our limits.
And as a bonus, we were frequently lugging heavy equipment around with us – one of which was a trapeze bag weighing almost as much as Jessie (my circus partner) herself!
Just walking from the tube to the bus brought us out in a sweat; imagine what it was like to climb the silks, hang by my toes and catch Jessie rolling around the bar. I have never used so much rosin before (sticky stuff that improves your grip). I think we must have inhaled just as much as we put on our wrists and ankles.
As for the performances in Kuwait –six two-hour shows spread over three days – what those huge audiences didn’t see were the red raw skin after changing make-up five times during a show . . . the fresh blood as you re-open a wound again and again, show after show.
But that’s okay – the audiences aren’t supposed to see such things. The joy of our work – the glorious (“glamorous?”) reward - is the expression on people’s faces as they look up in awe, applauding as you seemingly defy gravity, mesmerized by the physical feats you are achieving in front of them.
“People just see the glamorous side…” I don’t know how often my partner (musician Helm DeVegas) and I say this to each other. When we chat to people about our work, it certainly seems exciting and glamorous. We get to visit all these different, exotic places, look amazing on stage and lap up all the applause and acclaim from loads of adoring audiences.
But next time you meet a professional entertainer and chat about their work, spare a thought for the fact that it’s not just about the five minutes or so that you see them on stage. It’s the result of many, many hours of hard, and sometimes very hot, slog behind the scenes.
Which reminds me, talking of hot slog - I’m off to Beirut on Friday. So Mr Weather Organiser in the Sky, could you arrange a few more days of really nice summer weather, please, when I get back again, so that I can enjoy it this time? Thanks…