This season Roseneath is focusing a degree of our fundraising efforts toward a new Sprinter van! After nearly 300,000 incredible kilometres, we had to retire one of our trusty (and rusty) tour trucks this year. Our tour trucks are the life blood of our ability to bring our impactful, social-justice themed plays to young people across the country and beyond. Please help us raise the funds to buy a new tour vehicle in 2017!
My very first tour with Roseneath was Dib and Dob and the Journey Home in 2013. We toured Northern Ontario for a few weeks, so I got to know the truck quite well. Luckily for us, there were only 4 of us, so nobody had to “ride the hump” as many casts have referred to the middle seat in the back. It’s my understanding that riding the hump can break even the hardiest of hindquarters. Nonetheless, we had some very long drives, and even the “non-hump” seats are not the comfiest.
But the most memorable moment of that leg of our journey (truck-wise anyway) was our journey to Elliot Lake. I can’t remember where we were coming from, but I know Elliot Lake was too far to do in one day, so we were driving to a motel in Blind River (which is not so much a town as a gas station). About halfway through our 7 hour drive that day, I began to hear an odd sound and the truck began pulling to the right a bit. I figured I had hit a pot hole and knocked the alignment off a bit, until we got to the hotel and I tried to turn right into the motel parking lot, and the truck made a noise that continues to haunt my dreams. I called the office and they began to research places in the area to bring it in for service, but there was nothing in Blind River, and as the truck was still running ok and we had a show there the next day anyway, we resolved to continue on to Elliot Lake the next morning.
It’s about a 40 minute drive to Elliot Lake from Blind River, and at about the halfway mark, the bone chilling noise became less of a “when we turn right” noise and more of a “constant source of terror” noise. And it got progressively louder until I finally pulled off the road. We could go no further. I called the office again, and our Production Manager (Heather Landon at that time) began calling around for tow trucks, as cell reception is elusive up there. Incidentally, while we waited for a tow truck to be located and then for it to arrive, I should mention that we were about 25 feet from a dead moose. In the end, the kindest tow truck driver in the world arrived, loaded our truck onto his flat bed, and drove us to the school to drop us off with our set so we could still do our show, before taking our poor truck to the garage.
All of this seems like a grand, funny adventure in hindsight, but I can say in all seriousness that had we not found this saintly tow truck driver, it would not have been amusing at all. My job as a stage manager is to stay calm and present a professional face for the company, but stranded by the side of the road, with the aroma of dead moose, and 2 stressed actors, and knowing there is a gymnasium full of children who are about to be cheated out of what is likely their only opportunity to see theatre for years, that job becomes increasingly difficult. Had we been forced to cancel that performance, I personally would have been deeply upset, as would have the cast, teachers and students. I will always remember this experience as a testament to the kindness of the people of Elliot Lake, but it could have ended very differently. The prospect of having a brand new tour vehicle is so exciting for any of us who have lived through something similar.
Thanks, old truck. You’ve brought theatre to so many kids, and you’ve worked so hard. You owe us nothing, and deserve a happy retirement!