Back to work

I think I mentioned that I had some vehicle problems recently.  One of them was with the lorry that has a problem with the clutch.  In fact I only just limped back into the yard on my final time out just before Christmas and I’ve been putting off doing anything about it.  Until today anyway, when I tried to take it out of the yard so I could shuffle the stage trailer into the workshop for the annual makeover.  Oh dear it hadn’t improved and I had real problems moving it into gear, but just managed to move it out of the way of the workshop door enough so I could shift the trailer in.

Next I try to move the trailer.  Now this has one of those neat electric trailer movers on it so when I’m at a gig and have to shift it a few yards (yes still imperial after all these years) I can just press a button on a remote and the trailer chugs along under its own steam.  So now the mover refuses to work.  Dead as a dodo. Double jeopardy!  After a few calls I find I have to remove the mover controller box to send it away to be diagnosed and mended and my mechanic would come out later in the week to diagnose the lorry.

After a little while I think maybe I can move the trailer with the onboard winch that I use to pull up the stage.  Alleluliah!  With some careful padding so the winch wire doesn’t damage the paintwork I manage to manipulate the trailer into the workshop. Then in the lorry, by pumping the clutch a few times a second (I think the problem is something to do with the hydraulics) I manage to engage reverse and pull the lorry back to its usual place in front of the workshop doors! Job done!!!  But not in the way I had planned.

But hey I didn’t give up, instead I thought outside the box and achieved all that I set out to do.  Sometimes I really miss not having someone around to say ‘Well done’.  I guess I will just have to say it to myself.  ‘Well done Mr A!’

And tomorrow and the rest of the week I’m in schools with Cat’s Paw Theatre, our amazing theatre company.  We’re in our fifth year presenting a two hour barnstorming piece of theatre for Year 9s about sexual consent and rape.  We’ve once again been commissioned to visit every High School in North Wales and I’m very proud of this work.  It’s very different from the Travelling Show but it neatly fills in the gaps as when I’m not working in events, I put on shirt and tie and become the facilitator for the company.  This means I have to engage the young people and encourage them to respond to the subject and open up and talk about it.  Very interesting, as of course it’s a subject that all fourteen year olds are thinking about a lot of the time, but asking them to talk about it seriously and in public is a completely different story!  I have three other very able actor/teachers and a specially trained police officer who attends every performance so I am not on my own.

The piece of theatre we present is what we call Forum Theatre, which basically allows the audience to interact with the characters in several unique ways.  The core story is about a fifteen year old schoolgirl, two weeks short of her sixteenth birthday, who says she has been raped by her boyfriend.  He says she gave consent.  It becomes down to the audience to decide on the truth as they are enrolled into the piece as the jury in the trial of the boyfriend.  The students are encouraged to ask questions of the characters and the actors stay in character and improvise the answers, and we work through the story a second time stopping and discussing the key features of the action. I act as facilitator and the police officer steps in to tell the audience about the details of the law.

It has the audience on the edge of their seats for two hours and the feedback from teachers and students alike has been brilliant, which is why we’re in our fifth year of delivering it, I guess.  One of the challenges is for us to keep it fresh and interesting every time we do it.  We’ve now presented it to over 8000 Year 9 pupils over the four/five years and I am very pleased to report that the police have told us that the instances of reported rapes from under sixteens, which when we started the project all those years ago was shockingly high (over 50% of victims of rape in North Wales then were under 16) has now dropped considerably.  Of course there’s no way we can claim a direct co-relation, but for sure we can say that over the years of doing the project we have taught those 8000 young people the exact definitions of rape and sexual consent, and made sure they remember them by presenting them in a way that is memorable and engaging.

So when I’m not leaping around on the Travelling Show stage, that’s one of the things I’m doing.  As well as trying to move big bits of resisting and aging metal around my yard!

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander