Finally we actually perform our show ‘Cheese & Pickle’ in the Art’s Club in St. Ives in October 2013.
I am saying finally, because it was a rocky road. When Rachel, with whom I had worked on ‘how desperate can it get’, and I got together in December of 2012 to plan this new project, we had big plans for the show.
We basically wanted to have a proper stage production, but we eventually had to give up on the bigger vision and settle for something much smaller.
I am sure some of you know how much work it is to apply for funding and how disheartening it is when all of your efforts were in vain. That’s what happened to us. We applied with the Arts Council and a few other organizations based in Cornwall. Rachel and I went for interviews, we had people advice us on how to move ahead with the application process. I think we got close, but certainly not close enough to become fund worthy.
I remember, that I thought at the time:
‘Apparently only the successful companies get the money and not the ones, who are starting out.’
It’s a joke really!
Let me tell you, I do know what it means to create a show against all odds. Because I’ve done it before with my second solo ‘Mind the trap’ . All my efforts to generate money for my show were in vain. No one would sponsor me.
Imagine, I even didn’t have the funds to pay my director’s fee fully. Ron East was so kind to work with me on ‘Mind the trap’ for nearly half of his original fee. Yes, kindness does exist. It’s a gesture I certainly never will forget.
Apart from that, I found more creative solutions. By, for example, sleeping in my former’s landlady’s sitting room during the rehearsals in London in exchange for coaching her. You have to know, I already lived in Hamburg at the time and had to each time fly over for the rehearsals with Ron. Mind you, he came for a few times to Hamburg as well.
It was crazy really. But I did have a show in the end, because just not doing it wasn’t an option for me.
The same happened with ‘Cheese & Pickle’. We both refused to give up on it. Even though Rachel lives in Peterboborough and we had to cover travel expenses.
‘Cheese & Pickle’ had great potential and thinking back on it, I really would have liked to take it so much further than we were able to do at the time.
Our concept of the show changed quite a bit throughout the year and I think none of both of us would have anticipated that we’d end up with a show, that had live improvisation on stage at it’s core. Yes, I mean making things up on the spot.
We had very defined characters. Rachel was Cheese ( the naive, but self-righteous one) and I was Pickle ( the sarcastic, but sensual one). They were contrasting each other in every way possible, but of course complementing one another as well; very much like a cheese and pickle sandwich.
Originally we wanted to create several scenes, that were defined and the audience would be able to decide in which order the scenes were played, like a lottery. Which meant we would have had to have more scenes available, than used during an evening. This way, we figured, the show could be different each night, while the subject at its core still stays the same.
To be honest, this idea still sticks with me. I so would love to give it a shot some time. Rachel and I decided not to go along that route, because of our lacking means. We needed something more workable within our once more ‘no budget’ dilemma.
So we slowly moved from worked out scenes towards a more or less completely improvised show. Andrew Morrish, whose workshop on solo improvisation I had attended in the summer of 2013, was a great inspiration. He was all about, going with nothing on stage and having the tools.
His were the following:
Imagination, movement, awareness and connection with the audience
So let me tell you what we eventually did this very evening we performed ‘Cheese & Pickle’. We basically gave all the power over to Dhyano, who had agreed to do the light and sound for us. There were two songs, one for ‘Cheese’ and one for ‘Pickle’ and we had 9 videos, 8 of people making a cheese and pickle sandwich, and one called ‘Born on the river’.
Dhyano had the following instructions:
‘You can play the songs whenever you want to. We’ll react to them and you can project the videos, when something needs to happen. The only unchangeable parameter was, that the film ‘Born on the river’ would mark the end of the show.’
In a sense, Dhyano became our conductor on the evening of our performance. And let me tell you, we had a damn good show! I wish you could have been there!