Monday, 23 May 2016

Loyalties and Freebies - The Volunteer's Dilemma

So, it is Wednesday. Officially, it is Day 6 of this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival, although with volunteers having been involved in show previews and rehearsals, it is already starting to become troublesome remembering everything that I have already done and seen, and where. That's why I write this blog. It's not anybody else's benefit, it's simply my own personal memory bank deposit account.

 Last night's stewarding shift at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome is still fresh in my mind, and most volunteers have either seen William Galinsky's production of The Tempest, or are looking forward to it. Either way, it is one of the biggest talking points among us, that and voting for our favourite flavour of Kettle Chips, or trying to organise a flashmob visit to the Egg Festival Café at Norwich Arts Centre.

Indeed, it is to Norwich Arts Centre that I am suddenly feeling slightly guilty. During the rest of the year I am one of several Festival volunteers who also help out at the Arts Centre, either on the box office or as ushers. During these two weeks there is almost a tug of loyalties developing as I throw myself whole-heartedly into the N&N, conscious that the regular team at the Arts Centre are working their collective butts off doing extra shifts as the venue hosts a full programme of festival events. Tonight and tomorrow is a chance to ease my conscience a little - I will be front of house for two NAC shows featuring Manchester based writer and performer Chris Thorpe.

There has been a very generous offer made to festival volunteers. An e-mail on Monday night gave details on how we might be able to obtain complementary tickets to certain shows, obviously on condition of last-minute seats remaining unsold. Both of Chris Thorpe's shows had already sold out, but we still manage to squeeze one volunteer into each night when a guest-list pass remains unclaimed. I don't get to see either show (someone has to man the desk!), and I potentially also miss out on the chance to see the man-versus-robotic-arm-ballet, 'Sans Objet' (which, I am told, was absolutely stunning), and the showcase production at The Playhouse, 'Wild Life'. Such is the dilemma that manifests through such tugs of loyalty!

I don't waste my daytime during Wednesday and Thursday, either. I manage to get the grass cut, which always makes me feel better, and make it into the city to check out how the Public Jukebox is faring in its new location outside The Forum, and to witness the progress made by the Dennis Design Centre in Chapelfield Gardens ahead of the weekend's two-day Garden Party.

After Wednesday's Chris Thorpe performance,'Confirmation', a fast-moving examination of Confirmation Bias, that tendency to selectively search for and recall information that reinforces our existing opinions, I confirm my own tendency and desire to imbibe in Adnam's Ghost Ship, and duly head off to the Spiegeltent.

Wednesday night is 'Lucky 7's' night at The Spiegeltent. Each night after the late show the Spiegeltent hosts a club night with a selection of top DJs. Tonight is Pushkin, ably assisted by Robbie Powell in a night that challenges us to test out our own DJ'ing skills. On admission we are invited to randomly draw a 7" vinyl single from the haul purchased by the Spiegeltent at local charity shops. Then, if we are so inclined, we can pop on the headphones and be tutored in the fine art of beat-matching and mixing our own vinyl treasure into the set-list. One of the first to hit the wheels of steel is our very own Head of Operations, the one and only DJ C-Lo.

My own allocated single is a little-known ballad from 80's teenage star Tiffany. It is the follow up to the number one hit 'I Think We'e Alone Now', and is called 'Could've Been'. The portents are all in place for it to be a massive floor-emptier rather than floor-filler. Not surprisingly I do not get the call up onto the stage.

I vow to return the following Wednesday armed with a couple of guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Watch out, Norwich. DJ Dav-iD will be back.

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