Thoughts on touring to Village Halls

27 January 2021

Can you remember the first Village Hall you toured to? What was it like? 

I think it was Grundisburgh Village hall for a dress run of Marsh Fever in April 1982 for invited friends. First time we put our new stage up (we’ve still got bits of it, though we’ve had to replace some of the screws and corner bits), first time putting up the lighting and working out where lights go, plug in, get connected, work! And first get out, when what you want most is a nice quiet drink. 

What do you like about touring to village halls? 

The challenge of their different spaces, layouts, history, and audiences’ expectations. Over hearing pre-show chatter, meeting old friends. I remember one woman feeding her baby on the back row and realising the other day that baby is now in his/her 30s! And they are the one venue where the actors emerge to talk to the audience – we’re all in it together. The importance of the interval – theatre is above all else a social event and village halls preserve that aspect really well – you can hear people catching up on the story, discussing it and voting with their feet!

Why is it important to tour to village halls? 

So many reasons! Everyone deserves the chance to see good theatre, especially theatre that relates to them, as well as theatre that shows them other parts of the world, experience, new stories. The best shows take them on the journey they didn’t know they wanted to go on. 

What was the last thing you watched in a village hall and where?  

I spy on our competitors to keep up with good ideas and new developments. The Pentabus lighting set up at Wortwell was very interesting, or Farnham Maltings using a sheet for projection. 

What does the future look like for village halls?

Good. I think people will revere spaces where they know who they are sharing the space with, can get outside easily, and they don’t have to use public transport to get to. 

Anything else about village hall touring…

The dangers – make sure the tea urn is not on same circuit as the lighting, otherwise five minutes before the interval all the lights go, as someone from the village hall turns the urn on.