Page 10                                             Spring 1988   

Against All Odds

Or, Long-Distance Routining Made Simple

by Sandy Brown & Karen Quest

Brown's Story:


You're offered a tour. You haven't got a partner. You find a partner.


But she lives on a different continent. But you've never seen her perform. But you have a hunch it will work!


The following is an account of a collaboration by two people - Karen Quest in New York and myself (Sandy Brown) in West Germany - who were faced with a 4,000 mile situation. A Logistical Nightmare!


Prior to the tour, I believed that it just doesn't pay to say "no" to a potentially golden opportunity. Even one with snags. Post-tour, I feel even more strongly about this. The process was acutely fulfilling.


We wrote a one-hour show in spite of major obstacles and trepidation. With only three weeks together, spanking-new material and a new partner, there was simply no time to "lose it."


During the winter - still apart - we systematically sent cassette tapes and letters across the ocean covering our juggling and musical skills and ideas for routines. This helped us create a sketchy outline. The promotional poster was our first long-distance project. It went like this: "Dear Karen, Help! We need a picture! Stand turned so you're looking over your left shoulder at the camera. I'll stand looking over my right. We'll be back to back. Wear black. Hold rings. Smile!"


The two negatives were printed together. No one knew our secret, although I grew to Amazon proportions in the enlarger.


Mid-March arrived and I flew to New York for an intensive three weeks of 14-16-hour work days. We planned ahead by planning backwards. Once tech and dress rehearsals were blocked in just prior to lift-off day, we filled our calendar with deadlines and rehearsals. It was a frightening time schedule. But it worked, even through PMS - that's, uh, "Prop Making Stress."


We made decisions quickly as we wrote the routine and stuck with them. It worked. Vacillation would have slowed us down. We drew from our experience in music, choreography, character development and, of course, juggling.


There were other details. Like Costume Shopping. We're talking major accessories here! God only knows we took this aspect of show preparation as seriously as the back crosses we struggled to perfect. Once we decided on sequins - a fashion risk at best - there was no turning back.


It all fell into place. We toured for two months through Iceland , Germany , England , Scotland , Wales and the Azores . Like all shows, ours improved with age. Now I'm back in Germany , Karen is in New York , and this article is, again, a collaboration on different continents. A perfect ending!  continued

Quest and Brown

Quest and Brown take a reading break in the Azores.

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