The last show in Dunedin was the hardest show I have ever done. The backstage area, after two weeks of rain, was one huge knee high puddle of mud. We had long before put down sheets of wood in an effort to keep props dry, but by then, they had sunk so deep into the puddles that they might as well not be there at all. Everyone was in high gum boots back stage, changing into dance slippers only a moment before going into the ring. At every step on the stilts, the poles would plunge deep into the ground, and emerge with mud almost up to the foot plate. It was near on impossible to stay up on them.
The ring mat was wet, my trapeze was wet, and my costume was totally saturated to dripping point. Damian announced my act and a danced out onto the slippery mat of doom.
Somehow I managed to stay up on the stilts and I slithered in a semi-controlled fashion through my routine.
Off stage, five minutes later, however, I was in tears as the sheer exhaustion and the discomfort of our performance conditions hit an all time low. I took my stilts off, put my boots on and plunged into the mud. Backstage was a dreary sight indeed.. and after this show we would be pulling the big top down, I had all of the woe.
Tent down was pretty awful, so much mud, so much rain, and my patience and appreciation of tour life had dwindled and become nothing more than a loathed experience. That night held nothing for me but more tears, discomfort and a complete inability to even remember what it was like to be dry and clean. To make things worse, we didn't manage to get all of the tent down at once, so instead of having a day off the following day, we were ordered up before 7 to finish the job.. No time off this week, I thought.