Saturday, 31 January 2009

NIE in Italy

So here we are at last: after so many years of never touring any of the Mediterranean countries, we finally arrived in Parma. The theatre is in the middle of a park, which is very nice. On Thursday we did the get-in and rehearsed with the subtitles. Flavia and Marina from the theatre were there to check if it was all ok, whether the titles weren't going to fast, whether there were any mistakes in them, and so on. It all went well.

In the evening we went to a restaurant recommended to us by Flavia. It was amazing. We had antipasti of all sorts of ham (Parma ham), then moved on to the primi piatti, and stopped before we got hit by the secundi piatti - we already felt we'd eaten enough.

But we'd all left some space for the desert, as we'd been watching the desert trolleys all evening and we all knew we'd have to try at least one of them.

Tom went for the zuppa inglese and ended up very tipsy.

Friday morning we played for 250 Italian teenagers and it was great. From their laughter I would assume that their English was ok - they laughed at the spoken gags, not the projected translations. Afterwards we had a post show discussion with them.

In between both shows I drove to Parma airport to pick up Anna. A thick mist was setting over the city, and as a result her flight was diverted. When I went back to the airport two hours later (when she finally arrived), the mist had become denser, and the whole of Parma had become almost invisible.

In the evening a lot of the audience was delayed because of the mist, so we waited. The show went well and the audience enjoyed it. Iva recorded the show with the Italian subtitles, because maybe that way we can come back to Italy and tour around the country...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Travel by numbers 6: - Oslo-Parma

Driven distance: one thousand seven hundred and forty two
Travel time: forty eight hours
Ferry time: fifteen hours
Driving time: twenty hours
Idiot drivers: five

This trip was probably the most exciting so far. Apart from the fact that there were no problems with traffic (which, considering the distance, I find quite amazing), the end of the journey was spectacular. After having driven through Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and part of Switzerland, I suddenly hit the Alps. And suddenly is really the right word: two hours of a quite boring drive through the flatlands of Switzerland, out of nowhere the Alps appeared. It was dark when I got there, so all I saw was the snow-covered peaks of the mountains. I drove up and up and up and once I got to the top, I found a small hotel where I spent the night. I wanted to drive down by daylight, so I could at least see some of the impressive landscapes.

Once into Italy, things were not so nice though: traffic around Milan was manageable but mad, and fog/smog made the Italian motorway and everything around it look grim and depressing. Having said that, the coffee cheered me up completely. When I got to Parma it was bright sunshine and some sort of warm.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Pre and post trilogy

The seminar ended, so we had to rebuild the space to get ready for the trilogy. Needless to say we were all slightly hungover, but we pushed through, and got it all done.

The truss we put in had to come out again.

Not everyone reached but the intentions were good.

At the end of a day of very hard work, we all sat down together for a company dinner. It doesn't happen very often that so many of us are in the same place at the same time.
NIE is growing and growing...

After the trilogy a band called Blow played Tom Waits song. They were fantastic and had everyone on the dance floor.

Even the bartenders...

Friday, 23 January 2009

End of the Seminar

We finished the seminar with a Grand European Dinner. We had asked all participants to bring something from their country. The fact that more than half of them had brought liquids was cause for a few laughs. For a moment we were worried there wouldn't be enough food for everyone, but there was plenty.

The Danes had written a manual of how to make a proper Danish sandwich. It was the DIY part of the table.

And of course there was the international alcohol, followed by a challenge of who's slivovice was the best. I don't think anyone won, considering no one refused any of them.

After dinner there was Music for a While,

Thursday, 22 January 2009

On Tuesday we played or second show, which was already a bit tighter than the first one. A handful of seminar guests who had already arrived were there, but most of them were still on their way, or checking in to their hotel.

After we finished the show, suddenly all of them walked in (apart from the people from Drak, who got stuck in the airport in Amsterdam). It was great seeing everyone again. As they arrived after the show, we all had plenty of time to say our hellos and catch up on what we'd all been up to since the last time we met.

On Wednesday morning it was time to get to work. But not before we all had breakfast together.

And everyone registrated, got a badge and a festival information pack.

After breakfast, we had to make sure everyone knew everyone else's name. So Kjell and Alex gathered everyone into a big circle and got everyone to introduce themselves with their first name and the country they were from.

Then we moved into the part of Kanonhallen dedicated to the seminar and people gathered around a big piece of paper to write down the questions they would like to see discussed.

Some people spoke about how they worked in their respective countries.
This is Adne (sorry I don't have a Norwegian keyboard).

This is Johan from Ghent - he runs the company with possibly the most unpronounceable name: Kopergietery. Just try it. You can do it.

Michael from Denmark.

Then it was time for lunch. Over lunch, more talking happened - this is a networking event, so that's what people did: try and discover which nets to throw out and which ones to dive into.

After lunch we set up four tables, each with a piece of paper with different questions on them. People spread out and formed four groups to discuss the four different themes.

In the meanwhile, Krister and his team tried to work out how to cook an enormous amount of rice.

After a few hours, the paper on the tables got very full.

So it was time to present the results of the table discussions (either in the shape of more questions or as shared opinions) to the rest of the group.

Then dinner was served.

Everyone came to see Everything Falls Apart

And afterwards there was time for a different kind of networking...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Day 1 at Kanonhallen

Day one of our week at Kanonhallen and this is what we woke up to: winter-wonder-land.
Alex explained to me that there are 3 phases to experiencing snow:
  1. you find it all magical and beautiful
  2. you find it annoying because it interferes with plans of transport
  3. it's magical and beautiful again
Alex went from 1 to 3 in about half an hour.

When we got back into the space we saw that Honza had almost finished the seminar side of the space, which made it all look very real and very beautiful. The 108 lightbulbs were definitely worth the hours of wiring.
Tom's bar looks like it'll be a neverending project: it looks fantastic and I would say it's finished, but every now and then I catch him adding some more detail to it. I have a feeling this may be happening until we leave.

We did a run through and rehearsed some scenes, Krister cooked lunch for us (what luxury), we tidied up the space and played our Chinese game to warm up for the show.

After the show we sat down together over a few drinks. A lot to celebrate: Siri's birthday, first show down, the space looks like it's ours, etc etc etc.

All of a sudden some strange masks came out.

This is the end of the evening. NIE is growing bigger (this is not yet all of us but I'd like to find a moment to do a proper NIE photograph), and today we will be joined by friends from all over Europe.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

It's weekend

Wednesday was the last day to rehearse without lights, as on Thursday we were getting the lift to rig everything. We did some music rehearsals, and worked some more on the changes we made since we played the show in Cambridge (about which I will still not say any more - I even have a video I won't post until after we've played the shows).

On Thursday, we had the most beautiful start of the day:

And when we got to Kanonhallen, the lift had been delivered, so we could really set everything up like we wanted, only we were missing one truss, so that had to go up. The boys joined up the pieces.

In the meanwhile, Honza had arrived from Prague. He's responsible for the seminar space. He brought 108 lightbulbs with him and is planning to make a spectacular display. From Monday onwards, we won't be using the striplights at all.

This was a very scary bit: we had to take the truss up, balanced on top of the lift, and put it into the right position. Next Friday we'll have to take it down again. If you want to witness it, you know where to find us...

And yesterday we could rehearse the way it's supposed to be.

I can't wait now for this all to kick off. As of Monday night, it'll be a rollercoaster of fun, excitement, maybe also a little bit of nerves and stress, but it'll be fantastic to see all of those people we've met all over Europe over the past decade.