We’ve all been there.

Venues where the bar fridge is louder than the performers. Shows where no one shows up. Sets so bad that no amount of alcohol can blot out the shameful memory.

For me, it’s any number of shows that took place at the Savannah Room. It was, to put not too fine a point on it, a shithole.

“You’re crazy if you think I’m touching this filthy stage.”

Photo © Reggie D’Souza

More than once the place had to be evacuated due to flooding. I remember seeing Matt Folliott doing tech, his sneakers submerged in cables and rainwater, and wondering if this was the night we would all die.

Then there was the stage.

It wasn’t large, but this thing had holes that surely led to Middle Earth.

One time Charna Halpern taught a workshop there. Forty or so people signed up. Half of us watched as the other half got on their hands and knees to do an organic opening.

They started pounding the stage with their hands, getting faster and more intense.

We watched in horror as a dust cloud rose from the ancient carpet. Prehistoric molecules, no doubt redolent of polio and semen, stood out in stark relief under the lights.

Oblivious, the players kept pounding. When the dust cloud was finally higher than Charna, everyone started coughing uncontrollably.

But my special and favourite Savannah story involved my first Harold team, Leroy. Rob Ariss Hills, Gene Abella and I were on stage when a cat brushed past my leg.

I was momentarily caught off guard, but went back to killing it with my patented Shaft character. That’s when I saw it again.

It wasn’t a cat. It was a rat. And it was coming back toward us.

I shrieked and jumped into the first row of chairs (empty, of course) as the rat swept the scene. Gene said later he wished he’d tagged it out.

Shortly after, the Savannah Room closed its doors for the last time.

That’s my worst show. What’s yours?


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