I have been touring Diva Gigs: A Week In the Life of a Diva since 2012 and have stopped off at: Monmouth Festival, Buxton Fringe Festival, Ingestre, Middleton Hall, Deptford, Edinburgh Fringe, Battersea Barge London, Birmingham mac, the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham Pride and LAST STOP: Ludlow Fringe. This was a very special Diva Gigs for me as it was conductor Patrick Larley who offered me my very first professional engagement contract with Ludlow Choral Society at Ludlows St Laurence Church . I met Anita Bigsby (the Fringe co-ordinator) at a stall in the Edinburgh Fringe sandwiched between Melbourne Festival and Brighton Fringe (most respectable) and when she called to invite me to perform at the Ludlow Fringe I jumped at it!
Social media marketing is powerful…only most people in Ludlow have a land line…and that’s it. The phone reception is shocking. Nope, I had to go at it ‘Old Skool!’ The budget for the marketing machine was a fantastic size zero and without the good will of the Ludlow volunteers I’d have had nill reach and even less resonance! Anita kindly put my face on the front page of the Ludlow Fringe Festival Guide which was then disseminated all over Shropshire and even featured in the Primary Times!
The voluntary Ludlow Fringe Team: Ben, Darren, @SittingRoom, Ashleigh, Iran, Michael and the pianist Steve Dunachie showered Ludlow and the surrounding villages with my my flyers (kindly printed as a gift by @ResourceHousing) and my on-line Box Office was managed by Tony and Ros at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms, who even RTed some of my tweets!
Now don’t go thinking I was sat on a chaise long eating strawberries! I spoke with Kate Tebby of BBC radioWM (sent them mp3s, blurb the lot) but was pipped to the programming post by Fascinating Aida and lets be fair, there’s no way that clean cut Diva Gigs is going to compete with a vivacious, piano playing granny…who sings about Dogging! I seemed to be making headway with Simon of the Shropshire Star, but despite performing annually at St Laurence’s with the LCS and Ludlow being the catalyst for an Award Winning Operatic Comedian, I just wasn’t local enough..and the story never made it to the papers (booo). I emailed the Friends of the Ludlow Festival who (to quote their website mission statement): wish to attract a range of performances and audiences to Ludlow and asked if they
“would be so kind as to include me on your website listings?”
and was informed that
“it would make more sense if you were promoted via the Fringe website rather than the Friends as you are part of the fringe programme?”
which felt an awful lot like; we want to encourage new artists and audiences….just not YOUR sort (I may be wrong of course, I AM a DIVA & my ego couldn’t take much more clobbering)
I drove over to Ludlow on Tuesday evening (3 hours round trip) and crashed the Ludlow Choral Society rehearsal with an elevator pitch followed by a quick Ludlow Gold with Anita and Steve and finally (the personal touch, because Ludlow’s worth it!) two days later I headlined the Ludlow Fringe VIP event at the Globe (fabulous bar and eatery created by Adam) which is no mean feat following Bella Accappella, @Travotori and actors from the Ludlow Shakespeare Festival!
The next day I called Ros at the Assembly rooms:
Me excitedly: How many tickets sold?!
Ros respectfully: 4
Me deflated: I wish I could drink……..
Saturday 21st arrived and I thought, what the heck! It’ll be a tiny audience so lets make it personal. Within 30 minutes Ana, my fiance and I had turned the Ludlow Methodist Church Cafe into Ludlow’s First Cabaret Bar (which included a £3k piano..Ana was beside herself with excitement). Ana and I legged it over to LCS’s Monica’s to change and then meandered back to the church cabaret bar. Ben’s head popped out of the door…he was mouthing: ‘its FULL”……SAY WHAT!!!!! I walked through the cafe door and was hit by a full house…A FULL HOUSE!! Holy cow! What followed was by far the greatest Diva Gigs we have ever done. Finally in a cabaret setting Bernstein’s Dina waltzed with a member of the audience, Semele rested her head tearfully on another’s shoulder and we pulled off the fastest Mozart alleluia yet…oh and there was laughter….so much laughter. Ludlow Choral Society and their conductor Patrick and Gill Larley were there, Anita popped her head in despite stage managing another show that night, Ashliegh found the time to take some photos, Adam left his bar for the evening to watch and even Phone Whore (Cameryn Moore: I am one of those people, not that into opera, but I REALLY enjoyed your show!) not only gave us a twirl but shrieked with laughter (I ❤ her).
So there you go. Diva Gigs final A Week in the Life of a Diva….a resounding success! As I said in my show:
There are 1000s of Opera singers and only 100s of Opera Companies. Even if I were the best Operatic Soprano in the world, I would still be joining a pool of 100, of which there are only ever 10 jobs at any given time (possibly 11 thanks to Tamar Iveri)…so what’s a Diva supposed to do?..Well…I could bitch and moan about it..or…I could write a recital, tour it round the UK, pick up a few Awards, get rebranded as an Operatic Comedian…and you know what? I HAVE NEVER HAD SO MUCH FUN!
Thank you for sharing your evening with me, thank you for being so wonderful, have a safe journey home and Good Night!
KISS KISS xx S-A: Diva x