I am Sam Toll, the touring stage manager for The Riddle of Washpool Gully, and I’ve been on the road with the team since June touring Tasmanian schools with the stunning cast that is Mel King playing Mum, Guy Hooper as the Narrator and Bella Young/Noah Casey playing the Kid.
This is the week in my life…
Monday 16 Oct
Today started with a few hours of re-rehearsal for Bella to familiarise herself with the show. Ordinarily we’d rehearse in the Terrapin office, in Salamanca, but with a cumbersome set we’ve made some space at the workshop.
Rehearsal went for a few hours with our assistant director Emma Skalicky, who has helped support our new cast members with the storyline and vision set by our director, Dead Puppet Society’s David Morton.
With rehearsals complete, we hit the road for Launceston where family dinner was had (cooked by Mel) before an early night ahead of a week of upcoming performances!
Tuesday 17 Oct
Tuesday was a two-shows-in-one-school day (a personal favourite of mine) at East Tamar Primary. In a true stage management win, the parking at the school was our first 10/10 of the tour.
Once the performance starts, traditional stage managing usually means I’m in the back of the auditorium/theatre, or to the side of the stage, but school touring is a little different. I’ve been sitting next to the students, which means I hear the giggles and little comments they whisper to each other during the show.
After the performance we had a few errands to run, and there’s nothing more odd than walking through Bunnings looking for tubs to help organise the van whilst holding a headless puppet – the puppet needs to fit in a tub, while its head travels separately.
Wednesday 18 Oct
Wednesday was a little chaotic. We started with a performance for some very excited kids at Bracknell Primary School before a speedy bump out to make it out to the airport by 11:30am to meet Sharp Airlines, who were to take our set ahead of us to King Island.
In all honesty, school touring requires a lot of quick think on your feet decision-making, which can be a challenge at times. This day was no exception: we needed to collaborate with Sharp Airlines to fit our set so it could get over to King Island.
Our flight is on Thursday, so we headed back to our accommodation to pack our bags ahead of an early morning.
Thursday 19 Oct
The early start day, 5:30am – to King Island!
But before the flight, I quickly gathered together a micro repair kit in case of puppet emergencies or paint damages to the set, a must when we’re leaving the van on the ‘mainland’.
For packing, #1 rule: show laptop and prompt copy come first, so they’re in my backpack and any personal effects can go in the cargo hold.
Once on King Island, we picked up our hire car and checked out a local café, recommended by a man on the flight whose kids go to the King Island District School where we’re headed tomorrow.
Seeing as we had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves the cast went to see the sights (the calcified forest) and I stayed back to get some admin work done – touring has admin too.
Friday 20 Oct
The Riddle of Washpool Gully takes King Island… District School!
First things first, breakfast; followed by a detailed check-out of the set just in case there was a need for touch-ups after its journey.
Years P – 6, with a few curious year 7s and 8s, enjoyed the performance – lots of giggles and in the Q&A after the show the students had some really great questions on the mechanics of puppetry.
After the performance we had the afternoon to enjoy King Island, which included the King Island cheese factory (cheesy consumption++) before jumping back on a plane for the long trip home (flight to Launnie, drive to Hobart, eased by car games).
Saturday / Sunday 21-22 Oct
The weekend brought with it some relaxing time, washing costumes and admin for the upcoming next week of adventures with The Riddle of Washpool Gully.