The Pickles ship has been riding rocky waves since Friday the 13th of March 2020, the last time our actors were able to perform in front of your students.
After the governments in France and Belgium announced the closing of schools, our tour managers whisked our teams of actors to Brussels, where they stayed for a few days before being able to travel back home. We were faced with enormous uncertainty and the fear of all flights being cancelled! It was already very difficult to go back to the United Kingdom and Ireland… I don’t need to tell you how worried our American and New Zealand actors were feeling!
Once they were safely back home, we all held on to the hope that we would be able to get back to the tour, our actors were all raring to go. All we needed was the green light from the authorities… after the Easter holiday? No… okay, what about the end of May? Beginning of June? Still no! It was a very frustrating and worrying time.
We want to take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of our hearts all the schools who supported us by rescheduling dates or by simply sending us words of encouragement. Your support and kindness helped us to keep our motivation even when all around us the cultural, artistic and education sectors were struggling.
It was only by mid-May that we had to face the hard reality that our 2019-2020 tour was over, and we weren’t going to be able to reschedule any shows. Fingers crossed that would be the last of it!! We had two fantastic shows ready for 2020-2021, a calendar open and ready to reschedule all the cancelled shows from March – May. So, like every other year, we shared our program for 2020-2021 with you all!
Of course, nothing was as simple as it seemed. We had to reorganise audition dates to choose new actors. Every year, we go to Dublin, Ireland to meet as many different actors as possible in order to find that “rare pearl actor” who has all the talents required to be a part of the company. This year we ran our auditions online. And it was a great success! By the end of August we had 12 very talented and motivated actors, ready to spread their positive energy and happy attitudes all around. By the beginning of October, our tour calendar for all 4 teams was almost completely sold out until June 2021, we were all very optimistic.
But the crisis continued to get worse, we rescheduled our November and December shows into 2021. But, in the beginning of November came the final blow. Despite all our best efforts, all the rescheduling, all the wonderful conversations we were having with schools, we had to make a very difficult decision. We decided to cancel all of the company’s activities until September 2021. The important and necessary health measures in place made our shows impossible in schools for the 2020-2021 season.
Looking at the current situation, how could we imagine a theatre tour that travels all across Europe, as we have been doing since 2009? How could we organise our daily movements from one school to another, one region to another, one country to another?! It was simply impossible and we didn’t want to take the risk for the schools or for our teams.
And so we packed away our shows and workshops ready to be taken out again for the new school year in September 2021. Yes, this crisis is a challenge for us all, but we will come out stronger and more motivated than ever! And as Monty Python always says “Always look on the bright side of life!” (Life of Brian).