Saturday, 28 February 2009

Tour Over

Last night we finished our tour in Uppingham, in a theatre that is part of the school Stephen Fry went to as a child.
We played to 150 students - in some way it was a bit like being back in Norwegian schools, in other ways it couldn't have been more different.
We were made to feel very welcome there and have been invited to go back soon. If our schedule has space for it...

Iva left last night after the show to get a head start on her monster journey to Linz. Bara left last night as well, because she had to get back to Prague to perform in her own show there.
The rest of us took off this morning, and saying goodbye at Heathrow made us realise that some of us won't see each other for a while now.

The two upcoming projects have an entirely different cast because they overlap.

So I'll be seeing some of them on Friday when I go to Linz, the others (who are involved in the show we'll be making in Stuttgart) I won't see again until the beginning of May.

But first things first: on Monday rehearsals start for a show called 'Das Schiff', which is a co-production with Sgaramusch and Schäxpir and will be performed as part of Linz Cultural Capital 2009.
We'll be playing on a boat in Linz, which I'm very very excited about.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Canterbury in the South East

After Warwick we drove down to Newbury (West of London) and stayed in a hotel next door to the theatre. David commented that his hotel room was probably closer to the stage than the dressing room in some of the theatres we've been to.

In Newbury we celebrated Nikita's 5th birthday with an overdose of chocolate (chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream). We all screamed the devil out of the cake as Tom was cutting it, and the other people who happened to be in the theatre cafe at that point must have thought we were mad.

Today we are in Canterbury.
I took a bus into town to get a haircut, and first of all I nearly had a fight with the people of Toni and Guy. They didn't have time to cut my hair so I asked if there was an other hairdresser near (bad manners, I know). The woman pointed vaguely into some random direction and said: 'down there, but I don't know what the quality is like'. To which I replied: 'it's just a haircut, I'm sure they can do it'. She gave me a very angry look and I left.

I found another hairdresser which wasn't part of a chain and which was far less expensive. While my hair was being washed, I sat in a massage chair, and if it hadn't been for the show tonight, I'd probably still be there.
As I expected, the haircut was fine (not quite as impressive as my Chinese haircut, but I don't have time to go to China for a haircut, so I'll live with it).

On the way back I overheard some students discussing the cheapest way to get wasted. The result of their comparison was cider: cheaper than wine, same percentage, and they could get a lot more of it. They also tried to calculate for how long they'd have to drink at home to be drunk enough to be able to go into town and not have to spend too much money on alcohol to get completely hammered.

And I wonder: is talking about getting drunk beyond words as 'cool' as actually getting immensely drunk? And is either of it 'cool' at all?
Or am I just getting old?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Warwick west of the middle

We've now played two performances at the Warwick Arts Centre and so far so good.
Last night was a very warm crowd, who stayed behind for a Q&A session. This morning we played for house full of students and it was great fun too.

Our two hour get-in seemed ridiculous compared to the two day get-in Kneehigh is doing next door in the main house. Our beloved blue Caravelle also looked tiny next to their trailer.
They have the most enormous amount of stuff and part of me wonders if that's really necessary. As they're playing tonight (like we are), I won't be able to go and check if it is really necessary, so I'll just assume it must be.

The hotel we are in looks like it was used for Twin Peaks. It has dark wooden corridors leading to a variety of meeting rooms, dining rooms, breakfast rooms, ball rooms, pool rooms, and any other rooms you might need in a hotel. It boasts about parking for 500 cars (I'm a bit dubious about that, but can't be bothered to count), and everything about it says '70s.

In my bathroom there are a set of very strict health and safety rules:

at the edge of the bath on eye level:

above the toilet:

and as a summary above the middle of the bath:

So I'll try to be careful, as there must be a reason for all this caution.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Peterborough in the Middle

On Saturday we drove to Peterborough. As part of a project we are planning to make in Peterborough, we decided to play in a community centre rather than in the Key Theatre. The whole set-up is a start of something bigger, part of us learning things about Peterborough, bringing things there and taking things from there.
We had a small but enthusiastic audience and had a chat with them after the show about what we could do in Peterborough, how we should do it, where we should go and who we should talk to.
There were people from 4 different organisations in Peterborough who all had different suggestions.

Afterwards we all went to a bar on a boat to celebrate Tom's 30th birthday. I thought that day would never come, but here it is: Tomas Mechacek has finally joined the 30something brigade.

After the boat we went to a pub where karaoke was being sung badly, and where they had pool tables. So we played a few rounds. I met a man called Sean who was intimidated by my hair and said I had some 'crazy shit' going on. He wondered if it had electricity in it. He hung around for a while and made us laugh a lot. But I guess it's time for a haircut... Only I fear no European haircut will be as good as my Chinese one.

Another part of the things I got used to while living in London and then got unused to again after moving away is food in England. At the risk of offending a nation: when it comes to food, there is something rotten in the state of England. On tour we generally have to eat out. And eating out in England is not easy. That is to say, not easy if you want something fresh and healthy. In some of the places we've been to the only options have been burgers and chips, jacket potatoes or sandwiches that look like they died a few years ago.
After 4 days of that, I had a dream that I was having an affair with Nigella Lawson. Which was quite shocking but it makes things very clear: something had to give. So I went to the supermarket to get some salads and fruit.
Because that is something I will readily admit: supermarkets in England are probably the best in Europe. Only takeaway or sit-in food doesn't reach those standards by far.

Today we have a day off in Peterborough. Peterborough is not very big, so when I went out to go to the supermarket, I first bumped into Nils Petter and 5 minutes later Iva walked by.
I like it when that happens. It's like a coincidence that isn't a coincidence at all. And for the briefest of moments, I have the feeling I live in a small town where I know everyone and meet friends on the street.

Tomorrow we are going to Warwick.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Colchester in the East

On Friday morning we drove from Leeds to Colchester to play at the Lakeside theatre. We'd never played there before, so we didn't know what we would find. The Lakeside Theatre is part of the university and is on the university grounds near Wivenhoe. It's a lot of big buildings in what looks like a big park. The theatre itself is very nice. As we hadn't played there before, we didn't really know what to expect, so we were pleasantly surprised when more than 100 people showed up to see the show, and they were all very enthusiastic.
The hotel we were staying in was also in the university grounds. It was a beautiful old building with many corridors.

Getting ready to go to Peterborough

Friday, 20 February 2009

Leeds in the North

The gps made me aware of the fact that there seem to be two cities called Leeds in the UK. We went to the one in North Yorkshire.
After we'd all arrived (after a lot of confusion in the one way systems in the centre of Leeds), we went for a drink to discuss the tour. On this trip we have two cars: the van and a family car. We'll be driving up and down England for two weeks, in the traditional UK touring pinball machine way.

We all knew Leeds Met from before, we've always enjoyed playing there because we get very nice audience and it is a tiny but really cosy space.

During rehearsal the glass cake dish broke. It just kind of fell off the little table it was on. The little table itself has gone through a variety of repairs that clearly don't really hold it together any more, so all of a sudden we were without cake dish and without suitable cake table. So I went on a mission in Leeds to find a glass bowl with a lid.
Mission impossible, it seemed. So I got something else, that was ugly and wrong, but we had to have something to put the cake in.

The shows in Leeds were very nice. We were forced to be very sensitive about sound and movement, as the space was so small, so the show was suddenly a lot lighter than when we last played in the huge theatre in Parma. We all agreed that it was good to go back to a very small space every now and then.

Leeds struck me as quite rough. I saw a man standing on the street with blood gushing down his face and a crowd just watching him. The next afternoon I saw three seemingly homeless men with dogs nearly get into a very nasty fight.

I've lived in the UK for 4 years and got used to a lot of things. Now I've been gone for 3,5 years and got unused to some of those things. Like the dress code of young women in winter in England. I realise it's not exactly freezing anymore, but still, I would say it's too cold to dress in a few strips of fabric.
Then again, maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Travel by numbers 9: Ghent - Leeds - via Cambridge

Distance: nine hundred and thirty two kilometres
Driving time: seven hours and ten minutes
Plus: twenty minutes channel crossing
Plus: twenty minutes unloading van in Cambridge
Plus: half an hour chatting to Cat

Monday, 16 February 2009

Travel by Numbers 8: Berlin - Ghent

Distance: eight hundred kilometres
Duration: seven hours fifteen minutes
Idiot drivers: none

This is the same trip I did in December (check Travel by Numbers 2). This time it took me slightly longer because this time the van is full.

One very bizarre thing happened though: as I was passing Bielefeld, I was overtaken by a fleet of police vans. One hour later, passing Recklinghausen, another convoy passed me. They weren't the same ones - these ones all had Recklinghausen licence plates. Half an hour later: another 10 police vans. This time from Gelsenkirchen, and these ones all had little blue flags attached to the front of their vans.


Tomorrow I will go on the fantastic Eurotunnel again. It's the best thing about going to the UK. I get to drive the car on the train and sit in it while I get driven under the North Sea.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Travel by numbers 7: Milan - Berlin

I didn't return from Parma because after the last show Bara and I took off on a roadtrip through Tuscany. It was fantastic.
So after 5 days I dropped her off at Milan Malpensa airport and drove back to Berlin

Distance: one thousand one hundred and twenty three kilometres
Duration: thirteen hours and forty five minutes
Idiot drivers: five (three of which were Italian truck drivers)
Traffic was hideous, as you would expect on a rainy Friday.

Which is why I will start my trip to the UK on Saturday, with a little stopover in Ghent.