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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hackney Empire State Of Mind

Very busy and stressful week, as I'm doing all the usual work stuff, plus finalizing the details of the opening night of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties, while preparing to go to New Zealand to perform at the World Buskers Festival next week. I barely had time to get a cold, but I managed to find time, and thus sniffed and sneezed my way through a shoot with the wonderful EastEnd Cabaret. Easy shoot, excellent people, what's not to like?

 Just before Christmas I'd shoot a set of images for SE Electronics of Kirsty Gillmore of SoundsWilde using their awesome microphones. We shot her as a moody cabaret singer at Proud Cabaret, where I often perform. She'd tweeted how happy she was with their microphone, and they'd got in touch wanting to know more about her work - and thus a new professional relationship was born. Awesome how twitter can do that, huh?

Also this week I had the complete pleasure of performing as part of a cabaret show at the Hackney Empire. It was a special show for the cast and crew of the pantomime, and the friends of the theatre, to celebrate the last night of this years panto. These kinds of gigs can often be less than fun, as sometimes a cast would rather have a party and be in each others company that have to sit and watch a show that doesn't include them - but this one was a dream. And something special for me.

Twenty something years ago, when I'd just decided that maybe I could perhaps be a juggler or something, my parents took me to see Circus Senso. It was the first "new" circus in London ("new circus" meaning it comprised entirely of people skills, with no performing animals), it had a cast that included people who had been street performers, and to a shiny-eyed teenage me it was proof that what I wanted to do, could actually be a job. I remember exactly where we sat - in fact, I pointed out the seats while on stage there this week - and I remember nothing at all about the show except one thing - Andre Vincent. He was the clown, and did a running gag with a broom. And he was a street performer. And he was great.

Twenty something years later, Andre has become a friend. Someone I admire and respect perhaps a little more than he knows. Perhaps he knows now. And in the intervening years I've done a bunch of stuff and been to a bunch of places, but, for one reason or another, I'd never performed at the Hackney Empire. Which is why, after doing a very enjoyable spot to a lovely audience there this week, I came off, found a little dark corner backstage, and thanked the theatre.

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