For the past two or so weeks we’ve been on the road around Europe, we’ve taken in nine different countries and seen a lot of motorway!
It’s been an amazing experience, Feral still draws brilliant reactions from audiences’ and we’re now rapidly approaching our 100th performance. It keeps surprising us as a show, I’ve always felt that no two performances are alike and our first stop in Vienna typified that beautifully.
The Schubert Theater is a cracking 80 seat venue just north of the centre of the city. It’s a dedicated puppet theatre presenting brilliant work year round and it’s also a lot smaller than anywhere we’ve performed with Feral before! To have the audience so close to the action made for a really intimate and exhilarating performance.
Three days of shows also gave us enough time to ramble around one of the most beautiful places I think I’ve ever been (they really love their gold leaf). It also gave us the chance to catch up with our old pal Nikolaus, a puppeteer and director who we first met back in 2012 at the Figura Theaterfestival in Baden, Switzerland. He’s a bit of a superstar and all around legend, here’s him doing his thing, (you might want to brush up on your German before watching).
The 2nd phase of the tour has seen us return to Denmark. We were last here in the autumn of 2014, but this leg has allowed us to travel far more throughout the country, from four hundred seat theatres to seventy seat studios.
It’s been difficult to resist the temptation to compare touring in Denmark to touring in the UK. We’ve had a great time whilst we’ve been here and from an outside perspective there seems to be really strong support structures in place for theatres and artists to create and host innovative work.
It’s hard to shake the feeling that one of the principal differences between here and home is in the level of financial investment. Denmark spends roughly 0.7% of its GDP on the arts, which doesn’t sound a lot but it’s a good chunk higher than the UK. The contexts of the two countries are obviously very different, and a simple difference in spending levels doesn’t equate to a better model for support for the arts, (there’s some evidence to suggest that audience numbers are actually dropping in Denmark nationally despite stronger spending). Even at our level though you can see the result of investment.
All of the theatres that have booked Feral in Denmark are part of a national touring forum which receives funding aimed at protecting its members from any financial loss potentially incurred by booking more expensive shows from outwith Denmark. This has allowed venues which feel like they might not have an audience for our kind of work to take a chance on us, and it’s worked brilliantly.
All of our shows have sold well here, a good number of them have been completely full and the catchphrase from audience members for us seems to be ‘I wasn’t going to come tonight; I didn’t think it was going to be for me, but I’m so glad I did’.
We arrived in Denmark just as one of the saddest events in its recent history took place but I can’t personally help feeling really positive about the ability of its communities to heal, recover and remember.
We head back to Scotland in a couple of days but as an experience this tour will be with us for a while.
We would like to acknowledge and thank Made in Scotland for their support of this tour via their Onward Touring Fund.