I’m very pleased to say that after a long tendering process Natural Theatre has been awarded the contract to supply costumed interpretation characters to the Roman Baths for the next three years.
Dressing daily as highly researched Roman citizens who really did live in Bath is a lot different from our usual bonkers street theatre antics. Though both need to be immaculately costumed and thought out. Whilst the street characters are meant to be surreal, surprising and of course funny, the Romans are required to be engaging, educational and entertaining.
But never downright hilarious. Up Pompeii inevitably springs to mind whenever anyone puts on a toga, but this is something we steer as far away from as possible. Though we did get a distraught phone call from one of our aristocratic ladies whose towering Flavian wig plopped into the baths when she tried to prevent a wayward child from tumbling in. Everybody fell about. ‘I think I’ve been too funny’ she wailed.
A friend was over from New York intent on visiting the baths. Don’t forget to sign the visitors’ book I said. Later, I peeped in the book and was alarmed to see her comment. ‘The actors were very funny’. Nay, nay, a thousand times nay, as Frankie Howerd would say! I emailed her telling her to get back on the plane immediately and change it to something more appropriate.
By the way, we’re thinking about starting toga workshops. With over seven metres of cloth, donning one is a task even the real Romans found exasperating!
Back in the 21st century, our street theatre and education departments are deep in discussions as to how to survive our up and coming Arts Council cuts. £150,000 per annum is a lot to find. No amount of new contracts could cover the gap. And besides, with nearly 1500 performances last year, we could hardly do more. What we need is some serious commercial sponsorship, and one local manufacturing company that recognises our work as an asset to the city both at home and abroad has already pledged regular and generous support.
Meanwhile, although firmly planted in the 1st century AD, I was pleased to see that the Roman Baths announced our contract success by means of the very modern Twitter.
Twittero, twitteras, twitterat!