A coach trip, a get-in, a quick class, maybe a spacing call or quick rehearsal if luck is on your side, all on a strange stage is hardly the ideal recipe for a perfect performance. This is what anyone in a small or medium-scale dance company has to deal with on a regular basis: you could even say it is their bread and butter. What makes matters worse, is that it can happen nights after night for weeks or even months on end. The only interaction one has with the locale is traipsing to the nearest supermarket for provisions, but the front-of-house café might be as far as you get.
Regardless of this groundhog day existence, there’s a lot to be said for the process: there’s merit in the act of getting a show on stage in the absence of the optimum conditions, it affords a real appreciation for when things do go smoothly.
However rewarding it may be, putting on a show in a new space in the pressured time-limit of a few hours is precarious – things can and do go wrong: unfamiliar sound systems, stage dimensions, wings, laundry facilities, lighting, rigging and cross-overs all provide a constant challenge for performers and technical staff alike, making each new venue an interesting (I’m being kind) experience.
Everyone who has ever graced the stage will surely have a story involving the malfunction of one of the above. Instead of it being a disorientating experience, which it will be at first, it usually has the effect of piquing awareness, which may even lead to a more focused performance, with the possibility of lapsing into complacency out of the equation.
So, while the one night stand might make for a challenging existence on tour, with all the potential pitfalls it unearths, it certainly toughens one as a performer, and will always provide material for a good story.