Sunday, 26 October 2008

One bridge too far

I nearly refused to board the plane today because of this:

is this really necessary? I think the word is 'to gloat'. Other terms that spring to mind are immature, childish, unprofessional. I mean, who says they won't be next?
Surely a company going down is serious business, it's not just like a reality show contestant that was voted out at the end of a week of utter stupidity.

When I landed in London, I saw another one: Bye Bye SkyEurope.
I don't feel comfortable flying an airline that has this attitude or mentality. End of story.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

What we've learnt about the Irish

When we were in Dublin, we asked Lizzy (front of house) how old the children were who would come and see the show. She said: 'Today we have 5th class, 6th class and 4th year. The 5th class kids are 11, 6th class 12, and 4th year...' She was thinking.
'10?' we suggested.
'No, no. About 15-16.'

We hadn't noticed her differentiation between 'class' and 'year', so initially there was a lot of confusion.
Then she explained that the 4th year is an optional year. Optional??? In my days you had to take every year, unless you were one of those high IQ kids or something and you were allowed to go straight to university.
Not so in Ireland. The 4th year is optional, a transition year is what they call it. Where you learn about life and life skills. Such as going to the theatre, I guess.

We asked if you could take the 4th year at a later age, like at 30, if you feel you are lacking some knowledge about life. But you can't. You get one chance and that's it.

The other thing we've learnt is about the compatibility between Galway and Bath. But that is all quite complex, so I will keep that for a more anthropological blog.

On Sunday we all meet in Cambridge to continue and finish making Everything Falls Apart.

Where's the Byrne?

The Byrne's in Nuremberg, but we sensed his presence in Castlebar.

Castlebar is a very nice town, though we got hit by strong wind and horizontal rain. All shows were sold out when we arrived, which is a great feeling.
Bob demonstrated his Irish dancing skills, but I'm keeping those to myself. If you want to see them, you'll have to ask him very nicely.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Have you seen the size of my ginger???

After Dublin we drove to Galway, where we had three days off before playing the trilogy. Galway is by the Atlantic ocean, and our hotel had a view over the ocean and the Aran islands. It's a very nice town, with great pubs serving very good Guinness.

We played in the Town Hall Theatre: morning shows for 350 children and evening shows for mixed audiences. All shows were very well attended and received, and we all enjoyed being there and playing there.

The festival in Galway has been a long standing affair. We met Lali many years ago but due to availability, we didn't manage to come here until now.

I went to a small deli to buy the stuff to make tea, and I found the biggest piece of ginger so far. I put a pen and a pot of honey next to it for reference.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Ark in Dublin

The Ark in Dublin is a lovely space, but it gave us something new to deal with - playing the show almost in the round. We had to work out how and where to move the wardrobe so that people sitting at the sides could still see Iva inside the wardrobe.

What you can't see in this picture is that behind the black curtain behind the wardrobe is a massive gate that opens out to a square. The stage can be used the other way around, with the audience standing or sitting on the square. We were all very impressed by that.

The show is being very well received in Dublin, and it is fun to play here. Yesterday there was a food market on the square at the back of the theatre, so we all went for food there in between the shows.

Today is our last day in Dublin, tomorrow we go to Galway. We haven't really had time to see much of Dublin, but what we've seen of it so far was great. Mark, the production manager of the Ark, has been leading us to the best places in the area for coffee, sandwiches, a meal, or a beer. Local knowledge is good.

Plains, trains, automobiles and boats

On Thursday I used most available means of transport to get our set to Dublin.
It started very early in the morning with a flight from Berlin Schönefeld to London Stansted.
I hadn't been on a Ryanair flight in a while, so the Ryanair song that burst through the speakers after take-off was new to me. At first I got a bit concerned that they might be playing it all through the flight, but luckily they switched it off. It's a very strange song: it sounds vaguely oriental, and as far as I could work out the lyrics don't consist of more than the word Ryanair. Some things hadn't changed, however: I still had no intention of becoming a millionaire with Ryanair, and their trumpets after landing followed by the 'yet another ON TIME flight' didn't impress me in the slightest. After all, isn't it easy to be on time if you tell people the journey will take half an hour longer than it actually takes?

(All opinions about airline companies are my personal opinions - I do not speak on behalf on NIE).

So I got to Stansted, have never been through passport and luggage so fast, and got on a train to Cambridge. I walked to the Junction and went through some logistics with Cat.
Then I loaded the car and drove up to Liverpool. Everything went very smoothly until Emily (the GPS) started acting a bit weird. Initially she said I'd arrive at 6.30pm, then suddenly it would be 3am (which was a problem because the ferry left at 10pm), then it changed to 7.30pm.

After a while of listening to various radio stations, I figured out that the M6 was closed, so I let Emily guide me to alternative routes. Driving through Shropshire was beautiful but slow.

I got to Liverpool at 8pm and checked in.
The customs guys were very friendly and chatty, which was probaby because most of the other people on the ferry were truckers, so they were curious to find out what I was doing there.

This is the ferry dock in Liverpool. Three weeks ago we sat and had lunch at the other side of the water.

Waiting to check in.

The ferry was very cute. It looked like it came straight out of the 70s. It was a lot smaller than the other ferries I've taken in other parts of Europe - only one car deck and only one deck with rooms. I checked into my room and walked past the bar, where a few men were drinking big pitchers of beer. Then I got to the restaurant, and tried to work out what payment they took. I had a bit of UK pounds and a few euros, but not a lot of either and was looking at signs that they took some sort of card. No signs at all. Not even a cashier.
So I went to reception and asked the lady how the restaurant worked.
'You go in, choose food, sit down and eat it.'
'Yes, but what currency do they use?'
'It's free.'

No other ferries I've been in serve free food. Not in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany or Italy. So there. Go from Liverpool to Dublin and you get full board.

And then the fun began. The boat left at 10pm, and around 11.30pm we hit the windy bit. It was gale force 8-9, and it was rough. I didn't feel sick, but the noise of things falling over and the waves hitting the sides of the boat, and me hitting every wall of my cabin, properly stopped me from sleeping.
The bed had drawers underneath which kept slamming open and shut, and so did the bathroom door. So after about an hour of that, I remembered I had a roll of tape in my bag and I taped everything shut.
Another hour later I wanted to go to the toilet and couldn't get the door open. Completely forgot I'd taped it shut. After a lot of clumsiness trying to keep my balance while peeling the tape off, I got in.

By the time everything finally settled down and I fell asleep, there was a knock on the door. We were getting into Dublin.

This is the car on the deck between all the trucks.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


In Bath we played mainly to young audiences, but on the last night we had a mixed audience and after the show we met an amazing woman who'd been one of the last children to get transported from Vienna to Bath.
Her stories were very moving, and some of them remarkably close to some of the scenes in the show.

On our last day in Bath, we also started building boxes to transport the wardrobe to China. Yes, we are taking it. The thing has travelled all over Europe with us, so it's now coming to China as well. First it will have to be fumigated in London, which apparently takes 24 hours. I'm tempted to get myself fumigated as well, though I probably smoke enough to take care of that myself.