Chrissy’s Rural Touring Story

Next in our series of features about the fabulous people who make rural touring happen, Chrissy Wallis tells us her story. Chrissy is the promoter for Calstock Village Hall in Cornwall, which is particuarly appropriate given the NRTF conference is down that way this year!

What’s your involvement in rural touring?

Living in Cornwall we have the benefit of being able to work with Carn to Cove who promote rural touring in villages such as Calstock where I live with my husband Dave. Calstock is a vibrant community, always very supportive and keen to see something different. I studied Art at Falmouth as a mature student and this, thank goodness, opened my eyes to appreciate different genres of Art.

On return to my home in the village in 2007  I became involved with the events committee at Calstock village Hall. For the last eight years or so I have been able to help select a couple of events a year from the Carn to Cove ‘Menu’ brochure to come and perform at Calstock Village Hall. Once events are booked I am often the anchor person, organising what needs to be done to make it all happen!

Calstock on the River Tamar. The Village Hall is the blue building on the right near the river with the green fields behind.

What got you into rural touring in the first place?

Carn to Cove were already offering the hall one or two events per year and I was invited along to one of their menu parties to represent Calstock Village Hall. Wow! What an amazing night that was, we were totally spoilt for choice. I could hardly believe the amount of talent out there and some right on our doorstep here in Cornwall.

I really appreciate what Carn to Cove do for rural touring in Cornwall. Without them our village, quite a cultural centre for the area, would not be so rich with amazing talent that only NRTF can offer with financial support.

Niger-based band, Etran Finatawa arrive at the village hall.

What are some of your rural touring highlights?

There have been so many highlights it's hard to choose just a few to mention but through Carn to Cove we have been able to put on these amazing shows with actors sometimes travelling from the other end of the country. These are three that have emerged from the Edinburgh Fringe over the last few years and we've been privileged to have at Calstock Village Hall.

- “Bound”, about a group of fishermen singing sea shanties in yellow southwester gear, in a storm, in our Village Hall – imagine them in their 'Boat' moving constantly with the sway of the sea - magical, immersive theatre.

- “You're not like other girls 'Chrissy'”, a one woman show by Caroline Horton on a stage with a chair and a suitcase of brilliant visual props – amazing stagecraft.

- “Labels” – another one man show by Worklight Theatre which is showcasing at the next NRTF at Falmouth. I could watch this over and over, another very talented up and coming writer/actor. Spellbinding autobiographical storytelling which seems too good to even be on a small stage!

One of the biggest highlights for me is hosting the actors, dancers and singers. They have perhaps been on tour for a while, sleeping here there and everywhere and are so grateful for the TLC, e.g. the tea and homemade cake on arrival and a light meal before a show then a tasty supper and a little drink or two afterwards followed by a comfortable bed! Often they'll be back again as we've given them a warm welcome with an appreciative audience. They come back as friends or as I told Le Navet Bete recently 'part of our family'. We develop a special bond.

Last summer Dave and I were able to go to Edinburgh Fringe with a bursary from the NRTF, it was an amazing experience to be immersed in such talent for a whole week and be asked to write and tweet out about the shows. I thought I would mention this as it's been an NRTF highlight for me!

Why had we not been to Edinburgh Fringe before? Well it's a long way from Cornwall but travelling by train was definitely a good choice as we arrived very relaxed and happy, having been able to take time to see wonderful countryside instead of black tarmac on route!

Chrissy (centre) with rock band Blame Sally who performed at Calstock Village Hall.

What would you say to anyone thinking of getting involved in rural touring?

If you think you'd like to get involved DO IT ! You won't look back as the rewards are manifold for your community and for yourself.  It's especially rewarding to be involved in the promotion of the arts in rural communities. Some people are not able to travel to the cities for a cultural experience and for them it's a huge benefit to be able to 'stay local'.

Putting on events is sometimes very time consuming and needs a level head to manage the 'list' of things that need to be done, such as getting the word out about an event on all the various avenues of social media, to breaking down after the event and sorting out box office money, but it's all worth it in the end!  

I am thanked time and time again for every show that I have been involved with at Calstock Village Hall. It's such a good feeling for the heart and the soul to think how satisfied and grateful the punters are when an event happens and all the work is finished, until the next time that is!

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