The Best Night of my WTC Life, by Mariele Runacre Temple
Launching The Wireless Theatre Company is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done. It’s introduced me to so many really amazing people, given me the opportunity to be involved in some incredible plays and despite being seriously hard work, it’s given me the time of my life. Perhaps the most enjoyable and most terrifying part, in equal measures, is staging our quarterly live recordings. I adore being in the studio, but coming from an acting background, there is nothing like the thrill of live theatre – especially when you are trying to capture the whole thing to send out to thousands of listener’s all over the world. The pressure is pretty intense, and I love it. I am so pleased we have still been able to create this, despite us being an audio internet based company.
Wireless Theatre Live is just another part of the company now, but our first live show wasn’t actually a live show, it was our “press launch” which took place just over a year after we had actually started the company, in 2008. It was a great time because we’d been running just long enough to realise that people were enjoying what we do. We’d hit the 1 million hits mark, which was amazing considering I started the website with the teeniest budget and a very vague idea of how it would go, and had secured a decent reputation as audio producers. It’s a testament to how many amazingly talented, hard working and interesting people we have on the team that, in just over a year, we had over thirty original productions, complied a brilliant team, worked with the fabulous Prunella Scales and gained an exciting and supportive patron – Nicholas Parsons.
We decided to host an evening of comedy and merriment at a modest London venue, with some examples of the audio plays we’d done so far, some sketch groups who have recorded with us and music and nibbles. We actually found a wonderful venue – The Headliners Comedy Club at the back of The George IV pub in Chiswick. To look at the pub you’d never expect that out the back is a 250 capacity space, with a lovely little stage and its own bar – they have stand up comedy performed there regularly and it was perfect for our launch. From my time working at The London Dungeon, I have been lucky enough to meet some of the funniest and talented people working on the London performance scene today (seriously, it’s a goldmine of actors, writers, comedians and singers – they should start an agency!) I knew that finding acts would be no problem, as well as a hillllarious compere to guide us through the evening’s performance with jokes galore and even the odd impression of clowns having sex. Yup. One of our new editors Joe Walters mixed together snippets from of our plays into a sort of TV-esque montage with music. The first time I heard it played back, even on my crusty old stereo at home, I literally couldn’t contain my excitement. It sounded f*cking class (have a listen). It started with our standard “This is a download from The Wireless Theatre Company…” and I think as soon as I heard that being played out over the loud speakers, and all of those people went silent, I knew we’d always have to do more live shows. Joe’s montage would open the show, followed by compere Neil Frost and then each act (complimented with booze, of course). Somehow, through writing very polite letters, we managed to secure the attendance of both Nicholas Parsons AND Richard O’Brien (who subsequently donated his script Pig In Boots for our next live show!). Richard O’B agreed, not just to come along, but also to perform – actually perform. Suddenly this was becoming like an real proper press launch…as if!
I spend a lot of time publicising and promoting our live shows, organising rehearsals, venue, crew, actors etc – but on the day I think I am usually more of a hindrance than a help. Everyone knows what they’re doing – and they calmly get on with it. However I spend the entire day talking at a million miles an hour, walking very fast (sometimes round in circles) and asking “what’s happened there? Why is that like that? What’s going on here?”. When I get told to shut up, I usually use that time to constructively consume a Red Bull and then continue to run around asking questions at the speed of light. The day of the launch was no different of course – worse in fact as I was so desperate to make a good impression to the press and the people from THE BBC who had agreed to come. I think we were all nervous, there was a lot of fast important walking around, important wires being taped down, important microphones being set up, important people warming up, technical run through’s, stops, starts, banners being put up and then taken down, people taking important calls, food being ordered, tables being laid. It felt electric – we were all buzzing with that infectious pre-show excitement which is part of the reason we all do it, surely? Once everything was all set up and we had some sort of semblance of calm, super cool Richard O’Brien turned up in a beige dress with a guitar case. I asked him what he’d be playing and he said “I’ll do a few country numbers I think – and it would be a shame, wouldn’t it, if I didn’t do the Time Warp?”…WOULDN’T IT!?!
As I am sure anyone who produces a show, or in fact hosts a party goes through the sheer terror, once it’s all set up, that nobody will come. So much work had gone into planning the day, I think I would have cried if the audience had consisted of my parents and the bar manager. However, I was literally overwhelmed by how many friends, family, fellow WTC people and press came to support us. And I have to say, we gave them a bloody good show – sometimes things just go right don’t they? The acts were great, the crowd were lively and responsive, Richard O’Brien sung actual songs from the Rocky Horror Show, Nicholas Parsons caused sketch group In The Meantime to corpse and everyone loved it, Stuart Price sailed us through technical perfection and everyone stayed for plenty of drinks for the summer’s evening after the show. The venue looked amazing with my beloved Wireless Theatre Company banners which were kindly made for us by Eye Catching Design (they do sets don’t you know…) and over 200 people crammed into the venue. The atmosphere was electric. I’d like to say I have definitely managed to calm those nerves since those days…but I am not sure I really can. You’d have to ask Matt? TK? Gareth? Jack? It’s ok. They’re all calm, I can be manic can’t I?
The launch was alive and thrilling and everything that theatre should be, as well as celebrating everything that’s different and unusal about WTC. It was the start of Wireless Theatre LIVE, which has become a huge, exhilarating and ground breaking part of what we do. We now produce live shows in theatre’s all over London, including the West End. We have a professional sound and lighting team – all of whom are passionate about live radio drama and about what we can do next and we have a team of incredible writers who understand just how to create scripts designed for live radio recordings.
Do excuse my somewhat gushy blog – I am not a frequent blogger, but I thought I would tell you about the best night of my life.
WTC has two live shows coming up – HELP! I’m a Prisoner in a Toothpaste Factory by John Antrobus is a kids show, and will be recorded at The Leicester Square Theatre’s main house at 2.30pm on 30th July.
Sherlock Holmes Strikes Back! by Peter Davis and Matthew Woodcock, will be recorded for one night only at The Etcetra Theatre as part of The Camden Fringe Festival on the 16th August at 7.30pm.