I love a bit of show swag. Merchandise, show ephemera, whatever you call it – I LOVE it! I have vacuum packed bags of show t-shirts in my parents’ loft. I turned up to my first dance rehearsal for Chitty in a Chicago top (not realising that as a pro it wasn't really de rigeur to wear swag from a show you hadn't actually done!). My fridge is peppered with musical magnets, and framed posters adorn the walls of my house next to my partner's signed drum skins - oh yes, I LOVE a bit of show swag.
But my proudest collection, as it were, is my show mugs. If you fancy a brew in our house then it's a veritable walk through my CV. Purchased in pairs (in case one breaks), they are often faded, sometimes chipped but all lovingly used. I even have a naughty stolen mug from an Abbey Road recording session I did for the Love Story album. - we had no official swag. Originally provided as a coffee break cuppa, it was later sneakily rinsed and squirrelled away with some kind of crockery-induced kleptomania. Although I later felt so guilty that I sent them £20 in the post to cover it.
I've recently added to my collection and I think it's the one I'm most proud of. Not technically merchandise but swag nevertheless, my new white and orange addition boldly bears the logo 'The Theatrical Guild'. I am now officially an executive committee member for this wonderful charity, joining in their 125th year of service.
A small selection of the collection,
surrounding my new addition!
The Theatrical Guild or TTG began life as The Theatrical Ladies Guild in 1891 to ‘give relief or assistance to members of the theatrical profession in financial distress’. As a charity they help non-actors working in theatre whenever hard times might hit, whether front of house, backstage, under-stage… if you're in need and TTG can help then we will. We're a small Theatrical charity compared to many of the larger, better known entities, but the work we do is just as vital and incredibly personal. If we can't help for some reason, but know another charity that can, then we'll put you in touch and try to ensure that no-one slips through the net in our increasingly impersonal world.
I became involved with the charity thanks to the wonderful Jane How, who plays Lady Punnet in Half A Sixpence. We discussed my potential involvement over the summer and I admit I was initially hesitant. Not because of the charity, whom I knew did excellent work, but because of worries of my own ability. I get asked to do a lot of charity work, particularly concerts, and have even been known to run a marathon or two for various charities, but having a direct attachment was something I was interested in but also a little afraid of. I shouldn't have feared. TTG is made up of a brilliant mix of incredible theatricals of various backgrounds, all of whom are ready to lend a hand guiding us newbies. As one of the younger, newer members there's a great sense of pride in seeing the work of the more established team, and hoping to continue the brilliant work of TTG for another 125 years.
I’ll be keeping you up to date on more of the exciting TTG events you can be involved in over the coming weeks but for now, I'll just stick the kettle on. Pick a mug, won’t you?