Monday, 30 March 2009


At the moment Bob is locked in on the ship. We finished the show and all went home, but he stayed behind to play some guitar. The man on duty apparently took off and locked everything up.
So far I haven't been able to reach Mr. Hoffmann, who's the boss of the boat.

And in the meanwhile the team of B61 start today in Berlin. They'll spend a week exploring the wall and the stories of the wall. They're in charge of writing their end of the blog, so watch this space.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Scary business

Today, as we were about to play the music before the show, we saw a police van pull up at the other side of the Danube. Several men jumped out and ran towards the water. We could see something floating downriver, but didn't dare to think it was a person. As 'it' approached the police men and was pulled out, it was quite clear 'it' was a man.
How did he fall into the Danube? And how long had he been in?

He was standing up when they pulled him back onto land, so that was good at least. A few minutes after they'd pulled him out the ambulance arrived.

It was another very cold day in Linz today, and being in the Danube instead of on the Danube doesn't really bear thinking about...

International haircuts

Yesterday was a day off and for a change it was a glorious one. 20°, bright blue sky, and Linz looked beautiful.
Alex and I went for lunch al fresco, then wandered around trying to find a hairdresser that just cut hair and didn't want to 'pimp our head' or 're-style' or whatever else it is they want to charge a fortune for.

On our travels we had a look inside the Ruhepol, which is one of the Linz09 things. It's a statement against the lack of silence in modern society. We walked into the foyer and a woman came up to us and whispered something I couldn't understand. So I asked her to repeat it. She whispered again.
As she was standing several metres away from me, there was no way I'd ever understand her whispering. So when she was finally close enough to me for me to understand her explanation of the Ruhepol spaces, she'd also reverted to normal speaking volume.
At that point our haircut was more important than a quiet space, so we walked off.

We eventually found a hairdresser, plain and simple Cut 'n' Go.
The staff were very friendly, even though they didn't quite understand Alex when he said he wanted to look 10 years younger.
I got my hair cut with razor blades, which was new to me.

So far the top 3 places for haircuts are:

1. Beijing
2. Galway
3. Linz

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Our Austrian TV appearance

First job of the day

One of the things I really enjoy is arriving on the boat in the morning and going straight to the top deck to raise the flags. We have to lower them and take them off every night in case a strong wind would wreck them, or blow them off, or destroy them. It's one of my favourite jobs in this show, because it's a very clear sign that we're on board, and getting ready to play.

These are some things I found on the internet today:

here you can listen to a radio interview, where Alex gets German dubbing.

here is some kind of review from Volksblatt, which is actually more a detailed description.

here is a review from the Oberösterreichishe Nachrichten.

I don't know how long these will stay online, so try them out now.

Last night we had the official premiere, with guests from Linz09, Schäxpir, the ÖGEG (the boat people) and OberÖsterreich.

The most fantastic moment in the show was when Bob tries to enter from outside through a door and pretends the door is locked. Mr. Hoffman, the man who runs the boat, got up immediately, took his keys out and started walking towards the door. We managed to explain him very quietly that it wasn't locked, that Bob was just pretending. But we were all impressed by how ready he was to help us out.
(During the party he even helped me and Colombo to take the flags down).

Afterwards there was a party on the boat, which started with kids dancing to Austrian accordion music and continued with Alex being taught the shoe-slapping dance by Julius, the culture minister of Upper Austria. Both Nora and Alex tried to follow and copy Julius' moves, but the man is quite an agile shoe-slapper, so they were both exhausted at the end.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

First premiere

This morning we played our premiere for children. Tonight we will play a premiere for adults and children. It will be very full on board tonight, with 15 more people than usual.
We put up some custome made flags, so the boat feels more ours.

warming up before the show (click on the photo to see the fantastic view better)

anticipation in the Red Salon

greetings from a double bass


the pirates who sing in dutch

where is captain Larsson?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Austrian television

Our dress rehearsal today was visited by the ORF, the Austrian television. Tomorrow at 7pm they will broadcast a small bit of it.
We had 50 children in today, which is quite close to what the numbers will be from tomorrow (our limit is 60), but in addition we had a tv camera attached to a sound person, and two photographers. Every now and then they got in the way a bit, but the audience didn't seem to mind that much and I think it's better to get them all at the same time (though maybe it's harder for them as they have to make sure not to photograph or film each other).

In the middle of the show there was a snow storm. Spring seems to have skipped Linz and we've gone back to winter here. Apparently it will get even colder...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Trial run with audience

This morning we did a run through with a class of 25 children. It was great fun. Afterwards we talked to them and they said they'd really enjoyed it. They also said we all had very cool accents. But I think Bob was definitely their favourite. We now have the problem that Bob's German is getting too good...

unwanted guests

more trouble

discover the ship

going up


on the deck

the tiger in the pirate's den

posting a letter to a mermaid

the trumpet-monster

will it fit?

In addition to all the performance photographs, I also found this, which is one of the press photographs from our first week on the ship, when we didn't have Magic Mago yet.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Was ist los?

Today we did a stagger through with a small audience consisting of Schäxpir and Linz09 people.
We planned to do it at 12.30, as there was some sort of event in one of the rooms on the ship until 12pm. As usual on our ship, the comings and goings of the guys who maintain it are never predictable.
So we had to start a little bit later.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the performances featured one or more mumbling old men, because so far there hasn't been a day of rehearsals where they didn't stumble into a scene, or shouted across the corridor, or decided to play a waltz through the speaker system.

It's clear to all of us that it is nearly impossible to regulate any of this in some way that has any kind of structure. They're there and they have things to do. Some of those things are loud, some of them go unnoticed. Some of them require the rooms we are in, some of them happen in the background.
But one thing's for sure: if you come and see the show, there will be at least one old man wandering around on board. You may meet him, you may not.

This one you will definitely meet:

And her as well:

And the most authentic pirate of them all will also be there every day:

Tomorrow we have a day off. The aim is to get our heads back in order after everyone has had a minor shake-up caused by too many languages at the same time.
But don't worry: we are all slowly gravitating towards German. None of us are accent-free: even the Swiss have their accent, and none of us speaks the Austrian version of the German language.
My favourite is Bob's German.

I haven't been able to take many photographs so far because I've constantly had an accordion hanging in front of me. But I'll try and give my camera to someone else during the next run and we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The end of the show

Today we reached the end of the show. It's still quite unclear how long it will be, as it's very hard to tell how long it will take to move people around on the boat.
In the morning we started with a music rehearsal, and then we carried on from where we left off: the trumpet-monster.

We were a little bit limited today as we couldn't go on the deck. They were cleaning it because it had to be done before the frost comes back.
Personally I hope today's whether will stay and the frost will go somewhere else. This was the first time I had the chance to take a picture of our ship in the sun. And it looks a lot shinier in sunshine.

In the afternoon we got to the end of the stories, and not being able to get onto the deck brought us to an end that will be more surprising than it would have been outside (especially on rainy days).

I guess posting these pictures takes away the surprise, but I think you'll be surprised when you come on board anyway...

Most days we have lunch together on board. It's quicker than eating out and makes it easier to discuss rehearsals further.

What I forgot to write yesterday was that Kacka and I went to the costume department of the Landestheater. We had an appointment and 1pm and a lovely lady took us on a trip through a maze of a building. We went from a room with dresses to a room with suits and then on through a long corridor, up a different staircase, through some more doors into a room full of women's shoes, and on to another floor up to the room full of men's shoes and hats, and then back to the beginning to take another passage into another corridor onto another staircase to a room full of uniforms.
At one point I checked the time and saw it was 3pm. No wonder we were both tired and hungry. We got a lot of nice costumes and we didn't even have to carry them all to the boat: Alexander and Alfred picked them up for us this morning and delivered them to our Red Salon.

As time is ticking away, it's great that so many people are helping us with all those things none of us have time for.
Thank you, Schäxpir.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Mighty Danube

After being side tracked into tipping paper, this is what I found on the door of the kitchen of the ship: no smoking - not filter cigarettes and not filterless cigarettes.

Yesterday we welcomed two new people onto our ship: Mago, a Swiss musician and Alexander, and Austrian assistant. In the evening we tried out some Austrian beers with Mago. The beer below was in very nice glasses but tasted quite boring. My favourite so far is Gösser, even though the beer served in most places is Zipfer.

This morning we laid out a series of map tracing the Danube. It's very long, and it took a lot of rearranging tables in order to get it all lined up properly. We probably moved the tables five times in the process. The Danube does not flow through Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland or the UK, but that doesn't really matter as after more than a week on board the Schönbrunn, we've all started to develop a very strong connection to this very long river.

The Danube starts in Donaueschingen in Germany...

... flows through Linz...

... and ends in the Danube Delta leading into the Black Sea.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Tipping Paper

I found out what tipping paper is:
it's the paper around a cigarette filter.

So the mysterious advert I mentioned in this post is for a company that produces customised paper that goes around the end of a cigarette.

You learn something every day...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Schönbrunner Perücken Tag

Today we played with wigs and explored some music. We also explored some wigs and played music.

This is the second time I end up with a wig with long red hair, and I think maybe I should grow my hair back and dye it red.

This is an old picture I found in one of the cabins.

Visitors on our ship

We had a very busy day yesterday. It was the last day this week with Nora and Colombo, as they're off to Belgium to play in a festival, and we had some press things to do.
The boatman of the day was a very sweet man called Peter. When I arrived, he shook my hand and welcomed me on board, insisting that if there was anything we needed, we could ask him. Throughout the morning he would suddenly appear in the middle of rehearsals, either being an audience, or ending up being referred to by one of the actors. He liked it all.

At one point we were doing a scene on the top deck and he came after us and offered to lower the chimney. Colombo said he likes showing off and doing tricks.

When we stopped for lunch he came and sat down with us. We offered him some lunch, but his wife had already brought him some earlier.

After lunch some people came to take press shots and do a short interview. The photographer was very quick and knew what he wanted. He got us all into the steering cabin and told us precisely where to stand and what to do. No nonsense. Even when we were tempted to fool around, he was very sharp with us and knew how to control a bunch of adults behaving like kids.

Then Nora and Colombo got taken away by Flieger, the technical manager of Schäxpir. I think his first name is Franz, but everyone seems to call him Flieger (which is his surname). If I have a cool surname like that, I'd have people use it as my proper name as well. Colombo does the same.
The interview and subsequent sound recording went very quickly as well, and then we rehearsed some more with a small audience of people who publish the weekly Linz09 magazine.

In the meanwhile Bob has fallen prey to a very special kind of paranoia. Last week housekeeping took away his towel, and he's convinced that that was because he hadn't done the dishes in his flat. So now he thinks that whenever he forgets to do something, something will be taken away from him.

Monday, 9 March 2009

First day on the ship

Today was the first day we could work on the ship. As soon as we walked in, we all got incredibly excited. The man who was there noticed it and gave us an extensive tour, not only of the places we could take an audience to, but also to the off-limits areas on board. Those bits are obviously the most intriguing, but unfortunately they're also the smallest, so we can't take 60 people in there, even if they're little ones.

The radio control room

The machine room

The kettle room

The paddle wheel

The trapdoor in the floor of the red salon

After we'd properly explored the boat with a game of sardines (which upset some of the crew a little bit, but I think we managed to some extent to convince them we were not a bunch of raving lunatics), we started to explore the stories in different areas of the boat.
It seems to me that the ship itself is one of the biggest characters in our collection of stories.
And we are all very keen to show our audience as much of this very charming location as possible.

I'm sure there is a lot more to discover over the following weeks.
What didn't take long to discover was that it was very cold in some of the rooms. We'll be wearing hats, gloves and thermals as of tomorrow.
But don't worry, if you plan to come and see the show you won't be spending the whole day on the boat like we are. And the time you spend in the colder spaces on board will be limited. Also, by that time it will be bright and sunny and nice and warm (is what Nora promised).