"Do you have any advice for the tour?" Lotte and I asked.
"Just enjoy. It’s like having a party every day," Sarah said to us.
And she was damn right.
It’s been a week since we shared the joy for the last time ; and I still don’t know how to begin this post.
I could tell you dozens of stories about the effects that Sharing Joy has had on our audience: like the man in a wheelchair in Sheringham who, at the beginning of the show couldn ’t move at all, but by the end, was hitting the balloons with his head, hands and feet. Or Hazel (93), who was crying, overwhelmed, before the start, but up and dancing her heart out during Under My Skin.
I could tell you about the memories and life lessons I’ve been told in every single venue – I will always remember how Diana’s father didn’t like Richard when they started dating, and how Richard does Diana’s manicure every week now.
I could explain the entire script of Sharing Joy to you and how intelligently conceived it is. I could tell you how amazed I still am by every single detail of it.
I could tell you how many times somebody has told me "I wish my daughter/son was here to see this." or "I haven’t danced since my husband/wife died, and I didn’t remember how much I missed it…"
I could tell you about the smiles, the laughs … About how little I knew about a carer’s job, and how much I value it now. You guys are heroes.
I could tell you about the backstage mess. I could tell you how difficult it was for us to keep those balloons from bursting, or how long it took us to figure out the best way to pack the scarves.
I could tell you about how smiley and full of joy I was when I went to bed every night, having to force myself to sleep.
But instead, I am going to tell you about Maria, my avosita (Portuguese for granny) , who is 96 and has been living with dementia for over two years now and recently moved to a care home in Espinho (Portugal). Some days she thinks I am her sister and we plan our weddings over the phone, other days she believes she’s still living in Caracas and speaks nothing but Spanish…but sometimes she remembers where she is and why, and those are the hardest days …
I couldn’t help but think about her every single day of this tour, imagining how big her smile would be if someone came to her and said "Let’s have a laugh this afternoon!"
I wish very badly that some theatre group near Porto is putting together a party full of balloons, nice dresses and Fados.
And if not, then Vamos!
P.S: For future generations of Sharing Joy: if in about 50 years from now, you find me holding hands with the most handsome dark-haired man; please, play ‘Todos los días sale el sol’ by Bongo Botrako and let us dance. You’ll make us the happiest couple in the world.
Photo: Dom Moore