I spent the second half of 2014 working on UMCK Productions’ tour of Singlehood. I’d worked with director Una McKevitt before, on Moving City with Maeve Higgins and on a week of development for Long Day’s Journey into Night. I’d also seen Singlehood in the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2012 and really enjoyed the show. I was thrilled to get the job. It was a much bigger show than anything else I’d worked on before – bigger cast, bigger venues, bigger budget. It was really exciting. When I came onboard, the tour had already been set up which meant splits and guarantees had been negotiated and funding had been obtained. We had money and part of my job to manage that money and stretch it as far as it would go. It was my first time working on a touring show but I was working with someone with a lot more experience than me, who has experience about what you can ask for and expect from a venue. We also had a lot of support from the venues, and from MCD who co-produced the show when it was on in the Olympia. It was still a steep learning-curve for me, but one I embraced and enjoyed immensely.
I also got to work on a show that I really enjoyed. The show made me laugh every night throughout the tour and I was happy to nag friends to come along to see it because I knew they’d have a good time. As a single lady I have a stake in the subject matter, and that helped too. I’m a bit of a cynical romantic and the show suits my temperament. There are are some happy stories but it’s not a “love conquers all” kind of show. It’s more of a “love somehow manages to barely survive despite everything” type of show – there are a fair few cynical moments. I went to a friend’s wedding a week after the Olympia run. All the talk in the church about life-long love and people spending their lives together as a joyful journey felt a bit jarring after all the singlehood chatter that had filled my life over the previous weeks! Though the message really the same – love is rare and precious, celebrate and cherish it.
Our 12-date tour visited five venues over three months, from the beginning of September to the end of November. We started in the Naughton Studio in the beautiful Lyric Theatre in Belfast. It was the first time the cast has performed the show in about a year and a half, and PJ Gallagher’s first time performing the show for an audience. We had two fantastic sold out shows, with lovely generous audiences – and the tour had begun! Next stop was three nights in the Olympia which, size-wise is at the other end of the scale entirely. The Naughton is a small, studio space that seats 120 – the Olympia seats 10 times that many! It was a blast to work in the Olympia for the few days and have so many people see the show. We spent the October bank holiday in Galway, performing two nights at the Town Hall Theatre as part of the Vodafone Comedy Carnival which was a lot of fun. The final trip was to Cork in mid-November for three nights at the Everyman – another great, old-style theatre. Very like the Olympia on a slightly smaller scale. Finally there was the home-coming gig – two nights in the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire.
It was a busy few months. All my work started long before we went out on the road. It’s one of those jobs where I know I was busy but it’s hard to recall what I did all day! My job title was General Manager, which included a bit of producing and a bit of managing. I spent a lot of time sending emails. I was the contact person for travel and accommodation bookings. I got the poster design signed-off and printed. I set up interviews for the cast. I learnt that I really like looking after the the nitty gritty – the budgets, the logistics, the details – but I’m not pushy enough to be a brilliant sales person. I learnt that audiences are unpredictable. I learnt that the hand-dryers in the Olympia sound like someone is hoovering just off-stage. I learnt to go back over my to do lists on a regular basis, in case I had forgotten something when six urgent tasks suddenly came flooding in. (I often found something – write everything down!)
I had a great time working on this show. It was a fun way to spend half a year and I learnt a lot! Now I will start 2015 unemployed again, so if you need some help with a show, please let me know! I’m an excellent General Manager – I will manage the hell out of your money