Traditionally very much an outdoor theatre company, they will be heading indoors for a home-town Little Top week with their latest show Gods and Dogs for a series of performances in a tent in Helen Gardens, Eastbourne seafront from Wednesday, August 3-Sunday, August 7.
Company founder and artistic director Pete Talbot said: “We have noticed over the last few years that summer weather has got wetter and windier and, although we are not about to stop touring outdoors anytime soon, we thought we might just try working for a week in a tent to see how it goes.
“And what better way than to use a beautiful little top circus tent? They are part of our cultural heritage and a joy in their own right, but they will also give us a chance to do things that we can’t outdoors when we are competing with the weather and other background noise. For a start they are more intimate, there are no distractions, the colours and shapes of the performance will be more intense and the sound is closer and less dispersed. The atmosphere and experience are altogether more encompassing.”
Pete stressed the focus of the company was very much on explosive outdoor performance, but increasingly an indoor week has been tempting. Even though it has been a much less wet summer this year – certainly compared to last year – there have been times when it has been pretty squally. One performance was rained off and, Pete admits, another one ought to have been, but they were getting closer and closer to the end…
“So we just thought it might be time to start experimenting with other ways of doing things. Our work will always be village orientated and that will never stop. We will always continue to work with rural communities and certainly we can't go around with the tent but we thought we would try this in Eastbourne just to see if it works. We will have one week this year and see how it goes and if it goes well we might have a couple of weeks next year. Of course it is risky. Money is always a consideration and it is not a cheap thing to do but it seemed worth trying. And this is our home base. We've always had a lot of support in East Sussex. Whether we would sell out in West Sussex or indeed Hampshire I don't know but it is worth trying. And it is great for the actor. T hey don't have to get in and get out every night and the interesting thing is artistically we don't know how we will adapt. My anxiety is that we might just be too explosive for an audience indoors, just too in your face. What I'm going to try to do is before we start just have three hours modifying the volume of things, bringing down the saxophone for instance and also the clarinet is very loud and just trying to rebalance things so that the audience aren't just completely blasted away!”
During the Little Top week there will be afternoon jazz concerts with some of the best musicians on the circuit lead by Andy Panayi, the Eastbourne-based wind player. Concerts are on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons (August 4-7) from 2-4.30pm (entry from 1.30pm).
“Pay on the door. So why not spend the day with us? Paddle in the sea in the morming, watch great jazz in the afternoon and see Gods and Dogs in the evening.
"What a great day at the seaside!”