Week 17: Coventry, Nottingham and final thoughts at the end of the tour

**This post is a few weeks after the fact–I didn’t have time or proper internet service to update my blog**

 

COVENTRY

            When our coach arrived in Coventry at the company’s hotel, I split from the group to go find my digs. I planned to stay with a Couchsurfing host family near the city center, but I soon found out that not every Couchsurfing experience is as pleasant as my stay with Anna. I searched high and low for the place I was supposed to be staying, then realized I’d been walking past it because there was too much junk in the yard to see the address. I fought my way through some bushes and low-hanging branches until I came to their front door and rang the bell. I looked to my right to find a young girl (one of the families two daughters) giving me a death stare through the window. Ominous, I thought, yet I continued into the house when her mother answered the door. She guided me through their incredibly crammed and cluttered house to my room—or, should I say, that little girl’s room, where I was expected to stay—and told me she was going to run out and find her husband for dinner. I looked around their house for a bit, noticing excessive amounts of books and dirt everywhere, vegetables growing on the window sills (apparently they grow all their own food) and inspected the bathroom, which was filled with buckets of water (some clean, some not) which I assume substitutes running water for them. I lasted 10 minutes before I grabbed my things and hurried back to the Ramada to meet Gemma and Anabelle, who quickly provided me with a pint after hearing my harrowing tale.

            I ran into Zen outside of a nearby Indian restaurant, so we went in and had dinner. Afterward, I went back to the hotel; luckily, I was allowed to stay in one of the dancers’ rooms at because she was out of town for the night. I spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching The Other Guys in my hotel room.

Warwick 1

Warwick Arts Centre

            On Monday morning I got up and went down to the lobby right as the tech/SM team was leaving for University of Warwick (we were performing at Warwick Arts Center on campus), so I missed breakfast.

            We got in a cab and arrived at the Warwick Arts Center half an hour later. We did the get in (I worked on Chris’ LX team again) as usual, without any tremendous challenges. Chris and I scoured the student union on campus for lunch and wound up with sandwiches from Costa…

            After lunch, Gemma and Emily told me they’d booked a room for me in a hotel across town (the Ramada was full up)! I was so excited and grateful… I had no idea where I was going to stay that night—either at hotel (there are few hostels in Coventry) or on campus somewhere. I stayed with Chris for lighting focus from 6-11, so I didn’t get back to the hotel via cab until 11:30 or so. Naturally, I checked in and went right to bed.

Warwick 2

Inside the Warwick Arts Centre theatre

Warwick 3

View from my position during focus.

Warwick 4

Chris doing his thing

            The next day, I got up early enough to shower, have breakfast (which was not so great at this hotel) and walk across the city center to the Ramada. However, I must have taken a wrong turn on my way, because I ended up way outside the center in what appeared to be a very industrial and multinational suburb. So, I walked back the way I came and then made it the right way to the Ramada. Because I was late, Gemma ordered me a separate cab, which Bernadette caught with me.

Coventry 1

Some of Coventry

            When I arrived at Warwick, I did yoga with the dancers, had lunch from a nearby grocery store, then operated sound for our tech rehearsal (while the soundman at WAC was super nice and quite competent, he felt uncomfortable running Qlab).

When tech was done, we broke for dinner and came back to do show #1. Afterward, the cast and crew had free drinks at the WAC bar before we ordered cabs back home.

            The next morning, I slept in until 10 or 11 and walked to find a guitar store. I found one about 15 minutes away from my hotel, and when I came in, the owner sat me down and selected 5 or 6 guitars for me to try. I played each one and stayed for a few hours before I went to find lunch. I stopped in a nearby café and had a tuna melt and crisps, then read my book for about an hour. Then I left to find a café with working internet; my search brought me to the Transport Museum’s café where I answered emails and made some more plans for the summer.

            I met the dancers and crew at their hotel around 4 and we took cabs to WAC, did yoga onstage, broke for dinner, and did show #2! Once the dancers had cleared the stage we struck the set, lights, etcetera and loaded up the truck as usual.

            Anabelle and Chris had an overnight taxi ride to Nottingham, so we all had a beer outside the venue before their cab came, dropped me off at my place, and took them onto the next venue.

            The next morning, I had breakfast and walked to the Ramada to catch the company bus to Nottingham! Luckily, this ride was only an hour and a half, and we saw some beautiful countryside along the way.

 

NOTTINGHAM

            After our bus driver got lost and drove around the hotel 5 or 6 times, we finally stopped and unloaded in Nottingham around 2:00. I left the company and walked to my hostel, which was the nicest I’ve stayed in by far. First off, I had a single bedroom, but the facilities and everything were cleaner and better than those at some of the hotels I stayed in! My only qualm was that a group of authors, who’d gathered at the hostel to learn about each other and discuss ideas about their collaborative book on protest camps, commandeered the entire kitchen almost every time I was in there. Their book sounds really interesting, though…

            Once I’d settled into my room, I walked to the Nottingham Playhouse to help Chris and Anabelle finish the get-in. The dance floor was especially pesky here, so we stayed until 8 or so trying to fix it up. Afterward, Anabelle and I went for dinner at a Thai restaurant; we shared the vegetarian deluxe platter (phenomenal) and I took the leftovers home! I spent the rest of the night relaxing in my room.

Nottingham Playhouse

Outside Nottingham Playhouse

 

Nottingham Playhouse 2

Anabelle literally half-way under the floor trying to fix a particularly pesky join…

            I woke up early on Friday morning, walked to Tesco to grab breakfast, made scrambled eggs back at the hostel, and left for the Nottingham Playhouse. Anabelle and I were the only crew there when I arrived, so I took the time to set up the props table and prepare everything for our tech rehearsal (Gemma usually does this while I help Chris/Anabelle, but I decided I’d challenge myself to see if I could do it properly—and I did!)

Nottingham Playhouse 3

Props: prepped.

            I did yoga with the dancers, led by Alex this time, in a studio at 1. Afterward, I went for a sandwich with the crew and came back for tech. Gemma and I decided to make our last tech an especially fun one, so we snuck on during Rite of Spring and did the box dance with the men before scurrying off again. We came on at the end of the piece too, wearing ridiculous dresses like the dancers do in performance, and danced the ending of the piece. Much hilarity ensued for the remainder of rehearsal: Zen wore a turban, Mani dressed up as Louise and danced her solo in Petrushka, and everybody was having a great time.

            We finished tech around 5:30 and broke for dinner. I went back to my hostel (only a 15 minute walk) and ate some of the Thai leftovers, relaxed in my room for a bit, and walked back to the Playhouse for show #1 at 8:00. When the show finished, the cast, crew, production team—even the truck driver and his wife—went to dinner at a ritzy Indian restaurant, courtesy of the Dance Touring Partnership. Everyone ate, drank, and had a cheerful celebration of our hard work to make such a wonderful show!

            The next morning, I slept in till around 11, made breakfast, and found a nearby acoustic guitar store to mess around in for a few hours. Then, I made a quick trip to Wollaton Park to see Wollaton Hall (Bruce Wayne’s house in Batman Begins) before yoga at 5 on the stage. It was rather sad to do our last yoga session; it seemed that everyone carried a sort of somber energy as we went through the sequence.

Wollaton

BATMAN HOUSE (Wollaton Hall)

            When we’d finished, the dancers ran through a few notes, we broke for dinner, and returned for our final show. When the final curtain fell, the stage turned into an emotional jumble of hugs and ‘thank you’s and ‘congratulations’. The get out took a little longer this time, as we had to do some organization to return our rented equipment, etc. so we finished a little after 12:00. Halfway through, though, Chris, Anabelle, Gemma and Emily celebrated the closing with some champagne, and Gemma and Emily gave me some gifts (mostly inside jokes and things for me to use on future productions). Then, we headed to the company’s hotel bar and celebrated with drinks for a little while.

            The next morning, I woke up around 9:00, checked out of my hostel, and met the company at the hotel. A few members left from the hotel, so we said our goodbyes, while the rest of us boarded a coach for London. Most of the company got off at the Victoria train station, so I bid farewell to them before taking the coach onward to Heathrow airport with Michael, Rachel, Olwen, Amanda and Moritz. I said goodbye to everyone at the terminal and headed for my gate. After a short flight and a bus ride, I was back at my house in Dublin.

 

NP 5

Taken during the final performance at Nottingham Playhouse

FINAL THOUGHTS

Yesterday (Tuesday the 13th) I had lunch with Johnny and Michael at Carluccio’s in Dublin. We had a really nice time reflecting on the tour and talking about the company’s plans for the year to come. They thanked me for my work; I thanked them for letting me come along on such an incredible tour. We sat, ate and talked for nearly 3 hours before we parted ways and I headed home.

Things I learned on tour:

-How to communicate effectively when working with crews who are new to your production

-How many of the dancers act in the pieces, they allow the dances to take them on an “emotional journey”

-Crumpets must be eaten with excessive amounts of melted butter and jam

-Fish and chips should be enjoyed wrapped in newspaper, seasoned with salt and vinegar, and consumed via wooden fork

-How a Deputy Stage Manager can act as a translator between choreographer/dancer, score, and crew

-To be gentle when using your finger to open LX tape (Chris and Gemma, that’s for you if you’re reading this)

-How yoga can make one feel physically and mentally grounded, stable and quiet

-The Cornish sea is really, really cold and should probably be entered only in wet suits

-How exhausting a split-week tour can be after 5 weeks

-How annoying shredded trash bags (our “snow”) can be for a crew, yet how stunning they can look for an audience

-How pleasant working for a company of considerate, dedicated, authentic artists can be

-Much, much more… I still need time to mentally digest!

Week 16: Salford + Truro

**This post is a few weeks after the fact–I didn’t have time or proper internet service to update my blog**

 

SALFORD

            We got off the bus at the company’s lodgings, the Heart Apartments in Media City in the Salford Quays, around 4:30pm. I then walked across the Quays (about 15 minutes) to stay with my Couchsurfing host, Anna, at her flat in the Abito apartments. The building and flat were both super cool and modern, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of her apartment, as well as the glass wall/window next to my sofa bed that overlooked Manchester.

            When I arrived, Anna was cooking some jambalaya for dinner, which she graciously shared. We had some beer with dinner, then hopped on a bus to the center of Manchester. She showed me around her usual route (she has a lot of Couchsurfers and has given multiple tours of the city); we walked around for a few hours and saw a ton of Manchester. I wish I had more time to spend there, it seems like a really cool city!

Manchester 3

Town Hall @ Albert Square

Manchester 1

People live on these barges in Manchester!

Manchester 2

Manchester Eye

            A bit about Anna: she’s from Latvia, mid-30s, has lived in Manchester for a few years. She was so sweet and friendly, not to mention an incredibly generous host, asking nothing in return for accommodation and some food but good company! (I got her tickets to the show on Wednesday night anyway.)

Quays 1

The Lowry across the Salford Quays

Lowry 2

The Lowry

            The next morning, I had breakfast at Anna’s, then went in for fit-up at 9am at The Lowry. I helped Fabulous Beast invade the all-red Quays Theatre there for the next few hours; the dance floor gave us particular trouble here. Anabelle and I spent a good chunk of time making miniscule adjustments with a mallet in attempts to get every panel in line with the others and create a smooth, flat surface. I also set up the sound equipment at the sound desk for another unconfident sound operator.

Lowry 1

Some of the Lowry crew on the Quays Stage

            For lunch, Gemily, Anabelle and I went to Wagamama in Media City! After, we came back to The Lowry and finished the get-in. My job was done around 7:00, at which point I headed back to the Abito to meet Anna. She took me to the Victoria Warehouse nearby for dinner, which was really awesome: it had a very Eastern vibe, with statues of Hindu gods, zen artwork and fantastic green curry.

            After dinner, we went back to her place, then she left to go stay the night at her boyfriend’s place. I stayed up for a few hours reading, doing laundry (hooray! thank you, Anna!) and surfing the web, and went to bed around 12.

            I woke up the next morning to the sun pouring in through the window-wall, ate some breakfast, showered, and left for The Lowry. I realized I lost my gym shorts (must have left them in Belfast at the hotel), so I ran to the outlet mall across the street to buy some sweatpants before yoga. We did yoga, led by Ino (dancer—she and Rachel have been taking turns leading in Michael’s absence) in a rehearsal studio. For lunch, I went to a local grocery store called Booth’s and had a delicious gammon and caramelized onion baguette with mashed peas and a Lindt Easter bunny Anna gave me :)

Abito 1

My section of Anna’s apartment

            We had tech rehearsal at 1:30 like usual, during which I monitored the sound operator most of the time. When we’d finished, the tech team set up for the show (lining up the 10 chairs, with their corresponding boxes, and table for Rite). Emily and I tested each other on our memorization of each box’s location… doing the same show several times/week leads to these sorts of shenanigans.

            I ate at The Lowry’s staff café for dinner: I wasn’t very hungry so I had a salad and tea and my very first crumpets (Gemily bought them for me, they insisted I start experiencing “true English cuisine”). My verdict: delicious, and really similar to American english muffins.

Crumpets

CRUMPETS

            The show went on at 8pm (instead of our typical 7:30, because The Lowry sold our show a half hour late). During Rite, Emily and I engaged in a competition to see who could perform more of the dance backstage—I did the whole beginning sequence where the men dance with their boxes, she did the section where the women dance with their teacups (pretty sure I won). After the show, I was pretty tired, so I went home and crashed.

            The next morning, Anna got up for work at 6, so I tossed and turned and chatted with her for a bit until she left. I went back to sleep until 10 or so. I got up slowly, made some coffee and breakfast, sent in a few job applications and a video audition for a children’s theatre in Denver this summer (fingers crossed for this one). I left the apartment for good around 3 (yoga was pushed back to 4), and headed to The Lowry.

            We had yoga on the stage at 4—a particularly thorough and relaxing session for me. The dancers ran a few notes onstage before breaking for dinner; then the tech team set up… business as usual. Anna came to see show #2, which went on very well (as always). I ran out to say goodbye and thank her before she left, then went about my duties for striking the set, sound and props for the get-out. Chris had left that morning for Truro, so he asked me to look after the LX strike alongside the head electrician.

            As soon as we’d packed up all of our stuff into Nigel’s truck, Amanda, Emily, Anabelle and I got on a rock and roll sleeper bus; we had a round of beers on the bus in preparation for the long journey to Truro. I was pretty worried about getting legitimate sleep on the bus, but it turned out all right in the end, and it was a really fun experience to stay on a tour bus!

Media City

Goodbye Media City and Salford Quays!

 

TRURO

            We hazily crawled off the sleeper bus at the Merchant House hotel in Truro, Cornwall around 7:30am on Thursday, April 24th. I parted ways with the other three and walked down the road to my Air BnB accommodation. I forgot to let my hosts know I was coming early that morning, so I had to wait an hour before I could get in. So, I walked into down with my bag and sat down in a café called Blend 71. I had one of the best black coffees I’d had in England there, alongside what was possibly the tastiest porridge ever (complete with bananas, honey, brown sugar and warm milk).

            I walked back up the hill of a road to my lodging at 9, met one of my hosts, Mike, and got settled in my room. I had a shower, had a little chat with Mike, then headed to the get-in at Truro’s Hall for Cornwall. It wasn’t until I got there around 10:30 that I found out Chris had flown in a day early in order to allow those of us on the sleeper bus a chance to sleep in that morning… Oh well, I decided to make due with the 4 hours of shut-eye I caught on the bus.

            I decided to join Chris and his LX team on for this venue, so I worked on installing the upstage and downstage rows of fluorescent lights, hanging the enormous HMI film lights upstage (used for backlight, particularly in Rite) and assisting Chris with whatever else he needed. I worked for most of the day with a girl on the venue’s tech team who was just out of university by a year or two—it was quite refreshing to have some social interaction with a female my age, even at work.

Truro 1

The main square outside Hall for Cornwall

            When we breaked for lunch around 12:30, Chris and I grabbed food from Marks & Spencers across the street from the Hall. I ate outside in the sun (it’s gorgeous in Truro), then laid out on the truck ramp for the rest of break. After lunch, I returned to the LX team as we finished the get in. Emily and I went for fish and chips for dinner—the second installment of my introduction to English cuisine—and ate outside in the evening sun. We then headed up the hill, and I went back to Mike’s place where I met his partner, Linda. The three of us chatted for a bit, then Mike got his bass guitar out of the car. He let me play it for, and joined me after a while on a djembe drum and we had a mellow, funky jam for a few hours! We both agreed it was really enjoyable and that we played well together. It felt so good to get my hands on a guitar—I hadn’t played since Oxford!

Hall for Cornwall

Inside Hall for Cornwall

            The next morning, I really felt the effects of the sleeper bus. I got up slowly and made my way into town to the Hall for Cornwall a little past 9. We set up the stag for tech rehearsal that afternoon, then moved the company’s yoga mats into Town Hall for 11am yoga. After yoga, I went to lunch at M & S again (yes, I’m getting tired of their food. They do have a great selection of healthy prepared salads, though…) and ate outside in the square.

            That afternoon, we had tech rehearsal, during which I hung out with Chris and watched him fine-tune his lighting cues. I also operated sound (though we did have a competent sound operator at this venue) for a little while because the head of stage demanded that his crew have a break during our rehearsal.

Hall for Cornwall 2

Finishing moment in Rite of Spring. Taken during tech reherasal

            That evening, we had the show #1. I got Linda tickets to the show, but Mike couldn’t make it so she brought a friend. After the show, we had drinks at the theater bar, and a group of about 15 of us played a great game of charades until the bar closed.

            The next morning, I got up early to meet Anabelle, Chris, Emily and Inn Pang at their hotel for an adventure to the seaside town of Falmouth. We planned to take a boat, but the weather was awful that day so we had to take a train. When we got to Falmouth around 11:15, Emily and Chris headed into town as Inn Pang, Anabelle and I headed to Gyllyngvase Beach. It certainly wasn’t beach weather (rainy, windy, 9 degrees Celsius) but I was determined to get in the Atlantic Sea for the first time, so I did. I wore my swim shorts under my jeans, so I undressed on the beach, bolted into the water, stayed in for a good 15 seconds, then came running out. It was frigid and invigorating, and though I was wet for the rest of the day, it was so worth it.

Falmouth

Anabelle and Inn Pang at the Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth

            After I dried off, we went to a café on the beach and had some seafood: I ordered mackerel crab cakes with spinach and egg hollandaise… What a way to follow up a dip in the English sea. When we finished eating, we headed back to Truro.

            When I got home, I showered off and put on comfy clothes, played the bass for an hour or so, and headed to the theatre for 3:30 yoga on the stage. This was also a particularly effective yoga session… I think I’m starting to get the hang of this practice.

            After yoga, I grabbed a wrap from M & S and helped set for the top of the show. Show #2 went over great, and we even set an amazingly fast record for our interval change: 13 minutes and 35 seconds (previously, the intervals had been 18-27 minutes. We tied our record for get-out too, finishing around 11:15. Chris, Anabelle and I went to a nearby pub called Vanilla for drinks afterward, then took a cab back home.

            The next morning, I got up around 9 and packed my things, had breakfast and a shower, and said goodbye to Linda (Mike was out of the house at a gig with his band). I met the company at their hotel, and we set off on our 5-hour bus journey to Coventry at 11:30. On the bus, I thought to myself that I miss driving, surprisingly.

 

Week 15: Oxford + Belfast

**This post is a few weeks after the fact–I didn’t have time or proper internet service to update my blog**

 

OXFORD

            Our coach left London at 12:30pm on Sunday afternoon; we arrived in Oxford a short 90 minutes later. The company unloaded at The Randolph (which, I found out, is an internationally renowned 5-star hotel) and I walked a few minutes away to my hostel. We had the rest of the day off, so after I checked in and put my bags away, I decided to take a stroll around the city: I walked past the famous Bodleian Library, across Magdalene Bridge, to the running track where Roger Bannister first ran the 4-minute mile, and back into the center (I also stopped into a music store briefly to play a bit of guitar). I wandered around in warm and sunny Oxford until about 7:00, then went back to my hostel and worked on my Comedy essay. To my productivity’s disadvantage, the hostel was playing Frozen for their Sunday movie night, which wouldn’t have distracted me so much if I’d already seen it and if I’d really wanted to do my essay. Anyway, I got done what I could and went to bed around 9:00.

Oxford 1

Canal under Hythe St in Oxford

Bodleian

Bodleian Library

Oxford 2

More of Oxford…

Track

Running track where Roger Bannister ran the 4-minute mile!

            I got up around 7 the next day, showered, ate breakfast at the hostel and walked to the Oxford Playhouse to start the get-in (the Playhouse was conveniently located right next door to The Randolph, only a 5 minute walk from me). This venue was particularly challenging because the stage was tiny and their proscenium projected onto the stage quite a bit; we could only install 7 (instead of our usual 8) rows of dance floor and even had to cut a piece out of one section to make it fit into place. Space was extremely limited backstage as well, so our storage space had to be well thought-out.

OP

Oxford Playhouse… during the LX rig

            I had lunch (sandwich, fruit and crisps from Tesco) on a little palazzo on the corner next to The Randolph and ate in the sun. When I got back to the theater, Gemma told me that Emily (DSM) was staying with her parents nearby and that I could stay in her room at The Randolph for the next two nights! So, when we finished the fit-up around 7:00, I went to the hostel, grabbed my things, and moved into The Randolph. I spent the rest of the night finishing my Comedy essay (which I barely completed in time for the midnight deadline) and went to sleep—and in a room to myself!

            I got to enjoy the luxury of The Randolph more completely the next day, as I woke up and had a shower using their amazing provided toiletries (which I kept, of course) and drying off with a towel from the HEATED TOWEL RAIL! I then went down to breakfast, which consisted of a hot food menu and a buffet—I had the signature English breakfast (bacon, sausage, mushroom, eggs, toast, black pudding), tea, sliced fruit, yogurt, juice, and a pain au raisin. What a great way to start the day.

Randolph

This is only the staircase at The Randolph…

            I went to the Playhouse at 9:00 again and set up for our tech rehearsal that afternoon. I had yoga with the company in the rehearsal room at 11, then went to lunch (which I ate in the same place as yesterday, just because it was so lovely). After lunch, we had a tech rehearsal, run by Bernadette (a dancer and acting rehearsal director) because Michael returned to Longford after London to be with his children. After rehearsal, Anabelle and I went to dinner at an Asian restaurant (I had a hoisin chicken stirfry), then came back for show #1. The show went swimmingly, except that one of the silks didn’t drop all the way at the end of Petrushka, which is only a minor issue. After the show, we had free drinks at the Playhouse bar. I went back to the Randolph around 11 watched a bit of mindless TV, and went to sleep.

            I woke up Wednesday morning at 9:30, took a bath, and packed up my things. By the time I was ready to leave the room, the hotel had stopped serving breakfast, so I went to my hostel to drop off my bags (Emily needed her room in The Randolph again tonight) and find a place to eat. I wound up at a restaurant called Four Candles and had a the vegetarian breakfast (veggie sausage, hashbrowns, fried eggs, toast, tomato, mushroom, beans and coffee) for only 4 pounds! I met up with Anabelle and Inn-Pang (dancer) at the Oxford Museum at noon, and we walked around and checked out the Pitt Rivers museum for the next few hours.

Oxford Museum

Oxford Museum exterior

Oxford Museum 2

Inside the Oxford Museum. I definitely studied this building in my Art History course and didn’t even make the connection until I saw the interior

            We went back to the Playhouse by 3:00 for yoga onstage, then had a spacing rehearsal until 5:00. We had a break for dinner—I went to Shezan Indian restaurant (recommended by my friend Amelia from SMU) for some delicious dahl and peshawari naan.

            Show #2 started at 7:30, went over very well (the dancers even had a man shouting “Bravo!” during bows), then we started the get-out. It was over by 11:30, at which point Chris and I went for a kebab. I went back to my hostel and called it a night around 12:30.

            I got up around 9 on Thursday, had breakfast and a shower, then packed my things. I checked out at 10:30 and went to meet the rest of the company to board our coach to Birmingham Airport at 11.

 

BELFAST

            We left Oxford at 11am on Thursday and traveled to Birmingham Airport. We had about 2 hours to kill before our flight, so Anabelle and I sat at a Costa café and I did some organizing, planning, and journaling. I got stopped at security because I had a butter knife in my bag (which I had because of my recent Nutella fixation) that I’d completely forgotten about; it took them almost 20 minutes to rifle through my things and we had to run to board our flight! Later, Anabelle noted that she had a box cutter in her make-up kit (typical venue manager) and got through without question… that’s airport security for you.

            Our flight lasted only an hour (I slept the whole way) and we landed at the George Best Airport in Belfast around 4:00. We took a coach to the Park Inn in the city center, which I discovered was only a 5-minute walk from Jury’s Inn (where I stayed when I was in Belfast in February) and from the Grand Opera House where the company was performing.

            I walked 15 minutes across Belfast to my hostel, which was (to my dismay) the most unpleasant hostel I’d stayed in to date: I squeezed through my tiny room to my bed—one of 24 beds in the room) and put my bag away, then went to have a look around. Essentially, the few facilities that weren’t broken were filthy and crowded, including the kitchen, bathrooms and shower rooms (closets with shower stalls).

            I sat in the common room until 8 or so, searching and applying for theatre jobs in Colorado this summer, then went to get dinner. I wandered around and stumbled on Chopstix noodle bar… I don’t recommend it. I went back to the hostel and went to bed around 11:00.

            Because the hostel didn’t have free breakfast, I got up and ready for the day and went to Tesco for some bread (I already had PB & J) and fruit. I ate and headed to the Grand Opera House for our 9am get-in.

            The get-in went smoothly; the Opera House was a fairly laidback venue. Michael said that he wanted to use compost mixed in with the piles of black rubber crumb that we use for Rite on the forestage, so I took a taxi ride to a nearby DIY store to pick some up. My cab driver was super friendly and he loaded me up with information about Belfast on our trip.

Grand Opera House

Grand Opera House from the stage. The venue is gorgeous–my favorite so far.

Grand Opera House 2

The ceiling above the house in the GOH

Grand Opera House 3

Another view of the seating area for the Grand Opera House. Fun fact: it was the first building EVER to be built with fold-up seats.

            I worked with Anabelle to set up the dance floor, install the totem pole and kabuki drop system for Petrushka, etcetera (the usual stuff) until yoga at 11. MKD had been absent from the tour to spend time with his children, but he rejoined us in Belfast and led yoga.

            Afterwards, I went for lunch. I had a wander of hungry indecision around Belfast and ended up in a café called Rhubarb with a chicken-bacon club sandwich and the best chips I think I’ve ever had. Good work, Rhubarb.

            The afternoon fit-up session went smoothly as well—I spent my break laying on the truck ramp in the beautiful sunshine. Gemma called me into the production office at one point to inform me that they’d booked me a room at the Park Inn (I’d told them of the horrible hostel conditions that morning); I was so relieved and grateful. I hustled across town to the Linen House, grabbed my things, and bid the hostel a fond farewell before moving into the Park Inn. I spent the rest of the evening enjoying the comfort of my room: I grabbed a sandwich from Tesco and watched How I Met Your Mother (for the first time ever) and Big Bang Theory for hours, took a relaxing shower and hit the hay.

            I had breakfast at the hotel with Bernadette and Milos (dancers) on Saturday morning, then headed to the Opera House by 9. We did yoga in the rehearsal studio around midday, followed by some cake to celebrate Rachel’s (dancer) birthday.

            Gemma and Emily, or Gemily as they’re now called, recommended Meat in a Bap for lunch—I ordered vegetarian. It was amazing, not some mystery veggie patty, but a bap (bun) loaded with sweet potato fries, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions with a rosemary thyme sauce and potato wedges on the side. What a memorable lunch…

            We had tech rehearsal that afternoon, during which I worked with the sound operator (he wasn’t very knowledgeable with Qlab and needed some assistance). We finished around 5, released the dancers, and set up for the show that night.

 

            I sat at the sound booth for the performance to ensure that everything ran smoothly. It was nice to see the show again, especially because it was Mikel Murfi’s last night playing The Sage (he’s left us the next day to go work with Adam Silverman and Enda Walsh on Enda’s new play). Originally, Bill Lengfelder was scheduled to play The Sage (as he had in the past—he originated the role) after Mikel left, but he had fallen ill and wasn’t able to make it on the tour :( I was deeply saddened by his absence—I was really looking forward to spending some time with Bill (my movement professor at SMU last year) in a non University-related setting. I hope you’re well, Bill!! Olwen, who’d played the Witch in the past, stepped in to play a man for the part of The Sage instead.

            We only had one show in Belfast (another non-smoking venue, so the dancers mimed their cigarettes), so we started the get-out as soon as the post-show talk was finished. Apparently (I was informed after the show), the dance floor had come apart by almost an inch upstage right! Fortunately, no harm was done, but we absolutely need to ensure that doesn’t happen again…

            During the get-out, I said goodbye to Mikel Murfi (hopefully not for good), and to Michael KD until Nottingham. The get-out finished around 11:30 as always. I Anabelle, Chris and I bid farewell to the crew and our truck driver, Nigel, then headed to the hotel bar. We met some of the dancers there and had a few rounds of Guiness (when in Ireland…) before heading to bed.

            On Easter Sunday, I slept in and had breakfast just before the buffet closed. I ran into Amanda and Inn Pang on the street and walked around sunny Belfast with them until it was time to board our coach to the airport.

 

            The trip to the airport only took half an hour, and we had a few hours to kill at George Best before our flight to Manchester took off. I spent most of that time sorting out a problem with my ticket, then reading a book I picked up about the psychology of embodied cognition (it’s called Sensation, it’s super intriguing).

            I read for most of the flight and chatted with Saju, who had the seat next to me—he is absolutely one of the most infectiously happy and goofy people I’ve ever met!

Airplane

View of Belfast from the clouds

            We arrived at Birmingham airport an hour later, then took a coach to the Salford Quays just outside Manchester.

 

Week 14: Cardiff + London

**This post is a few weeks after the fact–I didn’t have time or proper internet service to update my blog**

CARDIFF

            We left Newcastle at 11 am on Sunday morning and set off for what turned out to be a 6-hour bus ride to Cardiff. When we arrived at the company’s hotel, I split off to find my lodgings at the Bunkhouse. I was pleasantly surprised by my hostel in Cardiff (and by the city in general); the first floor and entrance to the hostel served as both a lounge for the lodgers and as a bar to the public. It was a quirky and romantic atmosphere inside the lounge, the rooms were clean and only housed 6 people (2 sets of 3-high bunks). I stayed in the middle bunk and hit my head repeatedly on the bunk above me (nearly the only downside to the hostel).

Bunkhouse

The Bunkhouse

            After I checked in I went back to the hotel Ibis to meet up with some dancers for dinner. We found a nearby Lebanese restaurant called Naroush—we were all inredicbly pleased by their delicious meals and impressive portions (I had a great chicken shwarma for only 8 pounds). After dinner, I went back to the Bunkhouse and had a beer while I typed up last week’s blog entry.

Poster

Ad for our show in Cardiff!

            The next day, we started the fit-up at the Sherman Stage at 9:00. I met Chris, Gemma and Anabelle at Ibis hotel and we walked to the venue. The fit-up was frustrating and took much longer than at Northern Stage, mainly because the Sherman’s floor is pretty unlevel making it very difficult to install our sprung-wood dance floor (which has to be perfectly even for the dancers’ safety).

 

Sherman

Exterior of the Sherman Stage

Sherman 2

Sherman Stage during tech

            Because of some other additional complications (like a mix-up with our stage right and stage left Kabuki system which drops the white silks at the end of Petrushka), we didn’t finish until around 7:00, at which point I left to find some dinner. I walked the wrong direction from the theatre and wound up at Lidl grocery store, where I picked up a prepared couscous salad and some roasted veggies before heading back to the Bunkhouse. I spent the rest of the night preparing my monologue for the 2014-15 SMU season auditions.

            Tuesday morning began at 9am as well. After eating some (free!) toast and cereal for breakfast at my hostel, I headed to the Sherman to set up for that afternoon’s tech rehearsal. I did yoga with the dancers from 11-12:30 then went to lunch at Magic Wrap (delicious and cheap) nearby. That afternoon, I worked with the Sherman’s sound designer to adjust levels in the speakers and to ensure all our sound cues ran smoothly for that night’s show. We had our first show in Cardiff at 7:30pm, cut 5 minutes off the interval change (!!) and finished around 9:30. I then headed back to the Bunkhouse to work my monologue a bit more, answer some emails, etc.

Sherman 3

Petrushka during tech rehearsal

            I didn’t have to be in until 12 for yoga on Wednesday, so I slept in a bit, had breakfast at the hostel, worked on my audition song & monologue some more, then wandered around Cardiff a bit on my way to the theatre. Cardiff is actually a really beautiful city with a nice, relaxed vibe—clean, wide streets, pretty flowers, and a large student population are just some of the things I noticed.

            After yoga, I ate a quick lunch and then filmed my audition for SMU in the production office at the Sherman. We had a rehearsal from 2-5, then the crew and I reset for Cardiff show #2. Interesting note: Sherman Stage doesn’t allow smoking in their shows, so the dancers all had to mime smoking cigarettes during Rite.

            Show #2 went even better than show #1; as soon as it was over we started the get-out. Sherman’s crew must be speed-demons, because we knocked a full hour off the get-out from Newcastle and finished by 11:00. I was completely knackered (as the Irish say) when we’d finished, so I headed back to the hostel and went to bed.

            Before boarding our bus to London on Thursday morning at 11, I had breakfast at the hostel and started typing my Comedy and the Comic essay (due 4/14). I also stopped into a nearby music store to play a bit of guitar, then headed to the Ibis and hopped on the bus. London and Sadler’s Wells: here we come!!!

 

Cardiff

Cardiff Castle and the Welsh flag flying along the street I stayed on

LONDON

            We breached the London city limits around 4:00 on Thursday evening; after the coach arrived at the company’s hotel, I met Will (from Trinity) at the King’s Cross tube station and we headed to his place in Fulham. Will’s mom (Barbara—an amazingly gracious host) made us spaghetti for dinner, and then I had to bolt off to Sadler’s Wells for our orchestra rehearsal—the dancers performed with a live orchestra for this venue.

Terrace

View from the terrace at Will’s place in Fulham!

            I worked with Sadler’s’ resident sound designer for a bit—balancing levels and learning about his design strategy—before continuing with my typical show duties. Rehearsal finished around 9:00, at which point I wandered around London for a while before I took the tube back to Will’s house.

Sadler's

The view from Sadler’s’ stage… terrible photo quality, but you get the idea

            The next morning, I woke up and got ready for the day (it was so comforting to sleep in my own room, shower in a full bathroom and do some laundry at Will’s) and ate some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. Barbara suggested a nice bus route towards Sadler’s, so I took the 11 line along King’s Road and saw some sights: I passed by Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and Trafalgar Square, to name a few. When I arrived at the theater, I sat down with a member of the Dance Touring Partnership and answered questions about the tour on a live Twitter feed.

Big Ben

Big Ben from the bus

            After that, I worked backstage until lunch (which Barbara so generously packed for me). We had an afternoon tech rehearsal, for which my responsibilities were far less than before (Sadler’s Wells’ crew is VERY efficient and knowledgeable, they made my job rather superfluous) before breaking for dinner. I went to a nearby Asian restaurant, Banana Tree, for Thai food before my call at 7.

            Thanks to Gemma, I was allowed to watch show #1 from the house when I wasn’t needed (my in-show duties only included walking the maestro to his position in the pit at the top of each dance). The show is a truly inspiring work of art- the dancers are all very gifted and they work together seamlessly to bring Michael’s imagination to life onstage. I affected by parts of the show that I hadn’t noticed before, and it was really fulfilling to see my work (which can be somewhat mundane… folding clothes into bundles, setting and resetting props every night) being put to good use.

            Overall, the dances went over incredibly well—Michael was literally leaping up and down with joy when the final curtain came down after final bows. The next day, he told me it was “the happiest [he’d] ever felt about [his] work.” I’m so thankful I’ve been a part of the process.

The venue had a post-show reception for us in their café, so I had a beer there before taking the tube from Angel station to Parsons Green in Fulham to meet Will. He and I went to his friend Jim’s house for a birthday party (it was really nice to hang out with people my age again) for a few hours until heading home for bed.

            On Saturday, Will and I had breakfast at his place (Barbara made bacon and pancakes…) before we took the bus to Buckingham Palace. We walked around the outside of the Palace, down Pall Mall, through Piccadilly Circus to Covent Garden, crossed the Thames and sat for a while at a rooftop garden along the river. It was a really gorgeous day (the weather was fantastic for the duration of my stay) and I had a great time catching up with Will. He and I parted ways around 1:30—he headed to his Dad’s house and I went to Sadler’s for 3:00 yoga on the stage.

Wellington Arch

Will and I passed by Wellington Archon our way!

Buckingham Palace

Guard change-over at Buckingham Palace

London

View of Houses of Parliament from across the Thames

            After yoga, the dancers had a brief rehearsal and the tech team set up for show #2. For dinner, I went to tea with Michael, Johnny and Rachel and Michael introduced me to Paul Steinberg (renowned opera set designer). After tea, we went back to the theatre and had show #2; it went just as well as #1, if not better. Afterwards, we started the get-out and were finished by 11:30 again. It was so relaxing to work with such an experienced crew, because I didn’t have to worry about doing as many hands-on jobs as helping organize and coordinate.

            After the get-out, Chris, Anabelle and I went to meet the dancers at The Shakespeare’s Head behind the theater for a drink. Then I walked back to the tube station and headed home. As I found out, some tube lines close early, so I had a bit of trouble getting home and didn’t get back home until 2:30am.

            I got up at 8:30 on Sunday morning (way too early) to pack up and shower. I had a cup of tea before I left the house and met my friend Tessa from high school and her boyfriend, Nathan, at the Angel tube station. We walked to the trendy diner called The Breakfast Club for breakfast (naturally). We chatted and caught up over smoothies and breakfast burritos, then they walked with me to Holiday Inn at King’s Cross where I met with the company to board our 12:30 coach to Oxford. I had a lot of fun with Tessa and Nathan—it was a great way to end my time in London! The whole trip was unbelievable, exciting and exhausting; I fell asleep for the duration of the bus to Oxford.

            When we arrived I checked into my hostel (where I sit as I type these letters) and wandered around the city, enjoying the beautiful buildings and parks and the warm, sunny weather. I’m sad to have left London so soon, but I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of my time in Oxford!!

Week 13: Brief return to Dublin, then… Newcastle!

            After I got off the bus from Longford, taking a bus from Dublin Airport to the city center felt bizarre and depressing. The members of Fabulous Beast were boarding a plane to start their tour in Blackpool, and I was headed back to Dublin for 3 days of studying and test taking.

            That off-putting air stuck with me for my few days in Dublin. After I got in on Sunday afternoon, I made a minimal grocery run and spent a few hours unpacking and cleaning my room. I spent the rest of the day finalizing my plans for the tour and studying for my impending Art History exam.

            On Monday, I got up early, did some laundry and continued studying. I went out to Lemon café for lunch with one of my housemates, Kelly, and had a delicious Mexican Beef Chilli Crepe and a caramel mocha. Later I met my friend Catherine and we went to Kilmainhaim Gaol—I needed a study break and something exciting to do. Here are some pictures from the excursion:

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            When I got home, I did some more serious studying and went to bed early. The next day I woke up so excited I could barely concentrate. First, I downloaded Mac DeMarco’s new album Salad Days (which is amazing!!) for a soundtrack to my last day in Dublin for over a month. I walked through St. Stephen’s Green (as I always do) on my way to Trinity, went to my last Themes in Modern American History class and marched into my Art History exam.

            The test went well enough, but in all honesty I don’t really care if I do any better than pass—the class was really dull and I was feeling way too distracted to study very hard. After my exam, I went to the library to print my boarding pass and to pick out a monologue for the upcoming SMU 2014-15 season auditions (for which I’ll have to submit a video audition by Friday, April 11th). Then I went home, grabbed my guitar, and sat down to play in St. Stephen’s Green until the sun went down. I even made a friend, Jules, who came up to me while I was playing and struck up a conversation until she had to head home. I took some pictures of the park just to bid it farewell until May.

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            I went home, made the remainder of my food for dinner, and packed my things before going out for farewell drinks with a few friends. I came home just a few hours later to finish packing and catch up with my housemates. By the time I would’ve gone to bed it was already 3am—and I had to catch a 4:30 bus to the airport—so I decided to skip sleep (bad idea…). I finally left home around 4, caught the bus, checked in and went through security at Dublin Airport and waited for my 6:50 flight. I was so completely exhausted by then that I could hardly think straight, but I made it onto the plane for a brief nap. When I woke up, the sun was rising outside my window:

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            I landed in Newcastle around 8am, grabbed a muffin and tea for breakfast, and hopped on the Metro toward the city center. I wandered around the city for a bit before I found my hostel and went straight to sleep. I woke up 4 hours later and went to find something to eat; I ended up at a really zen and quirky restaurant called Scrumpy Willow and the Singing Kettle and ordered a sweet potato soup and falafel sandwich. I’d forgotten how rejuvenating a hot, delicious (and affordably priced) meal can be—I felt ten times better after I’d eaten. I ran into one of the Fabulous Beast dancers, Louise, at the restaurant and she told me the company’s bus had gotten in a few minutes before.

            After lunch (or was it dinner?) I went to check out the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the waitress’ recommendation. Along the way, I came across the Newcastle Quayside and some other cool stuff… see below!

Newcastle 1

Grey’s Monument

Newcastle 2

 

 

 

Newcastle 3

Found in the doorway to a restaurant. I only post this because… WTF???

Newcastle 4

 

 

Newcastle 5

Newcastle’s Millenium Bridge

 Newcastle 6

You may be noticing a trend in the grey, misty weather… It was that way for the duration of my stay

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            When I was finished at the BALTIC (which offered some really cool exhibits and some even cooler views of Newcastle), I went back to the city center and ran into Johnny (Fab Beast’s producer) and Emily (our new deputy stage manager—Cornelia had to leave the tour suddenly at Blackpool). We wandered around town for a while and stopped by a nearby Tesco for some groceries before I headed back to my hostel.

            Because we didn’t start working until the next day, I decided to see a play at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. They were showing an all-male version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I found very bizarre and profoundly entertaining. After the show, I went home and went to sleep.

Royal Theatre

Preset of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Theatre Royal

            The next day, I woke up at 8, made scrambled eggs and toast at the hostel, and walked to the Northern Stage for the show fit-up. The rest of my day was dedicated to loading in the dance floor, organizing and unpacking props, setting up the sound cues for the show, and assisting Chris (our lighting manager), Gemma (company stage manager) and Anabelle (venue manager) with whatever they were working on. Meanwhile, I stood in for a publicity photo shoot with Johnny, Amanda (costume manager) and Gemma—we all got to wear some bits of the costumes from Rite of Spring! Of course I couldn’t resist snapping some shots myself…

Dog head

Dog head mirror selfie?

Northern Stage 1

 

Northern Stage 2

Northern Stage during fit-up

Northern Stage 3

            When the day’s work was done, Johnny, Adam (lighting designer) went for some pizza. Afterward, we met Michael and Rachel (one of the dancers, also his wife) at Tilley’s pub for a drink. We parted ways around 11 and I went back to the hostel to work on my Critical Reflection essay, due the next day for my Directing class.

            I came into the theater at 9:00 on Friday morning to help Gemma set up for the afternoon’s tech rehearsal. I did yoga with the company at from 11-12:30, grabbed a sandwich for lunch and got ready for the rehearsal.

We teched from 1:30-5:30, then took a break before our 7:30 show. I stayed through the break with most of the tech team to set for the top. The show went super smoothly and it was incredible to watch the dancers, even from off stage left. After the show we took down the set and reset a little for the next day, then I rushed back to the hostel to finish and send in my Directing essay.

Saturday was much more relaxed than the two previous days: I didn’t have to be in until 3 for yoga, so I slept in a bit and went to a nearby guitar shop to look around and play for a few hours. On my way to Northern Stage, I walked around the neighboring Newcastle University (pics below) and stopped in at an art gallery there.

 

Newcastle U 1

Newcastle University

Newcastle U 2

more of Newcastle University

Tech 1

setting up for tech rehearsal

We had yoga on the stage at 3, then ran a short rehearsal from 4:30-5:30 before the dancers were released and the crew set up for show #2. The show went on just as well the second night; when it finished at 9:30 we immediately began the load-out, which essentially entails undoing everything we did on Thursday and loading everything into the truck. We finished around midnight and went out for a few drinks with some other members of the company before calling it a night.

On Sunday morning we loaded up the bus at 11am, said goodbye to Newcastle, and began our long journey to Cardiff, Wales. Our bus arrived in Cardiff around 6:00 and I split with the group to check in at my hostel. So far, this one seems infinitely better than the hostel in Newcastle. In Newcastle, I stayed in a large room with 12 beds (where I was accused by a schizophrenic man of following him from Colorado in order to harass him before the police had to remove him from the premises, and was woken up multiple times throughout the following nights by a large young man having seizures…). The hostel in Cardiff is equipped with a full lounge and bar with great atmosphere, and I’m only sharing a 6-bed room with two other guests.

I just got back from having Lebanese food with some members of the company–the chicken shwarma was to die for. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s fit-up at the Sherman Stage… I’m off to bed to rest up. Goodnight!

Week 12: Longford

           

Longford sunset

View of Longford from my hotel room window on Wednesday evening

 As I mentioned in my last post, I joined Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre in Longford this week to start my internship on their UK tour. Michael, the company’s artistic director and choreographer, lives outside Longford and was able to find a rehearsal space for the company at the old army barracks. Here it is:

Barracks 1

Makeshift costume storage/dressing area

Barracks 2

Entry to the rehearsal space

Barracks 3

Props storage, behind stage left. My main workspace

Barracks 4

Prop/set storage, behind stage right

Barracks 5

Exterior view of the Barracks

Barracks 6

A few dancers on the rehearsal stage during a tea break

            I came into the process during their second week in Longford, so their show was well under way when I arrived. My responsibilities on the tour are still somewhat TBD, so I spent this week helping out wherever I was needed: I ran some prop errands on Tuesday (oranges for Petrushka, herbal cigarettes for Rite of Spring), taping up and replacing twine on some of the older boxes for Rite on Wednesday/Thursday, spray painting ladders for Petrushka on Thursday/Friday, etc.

Rite Props

Some props for Rite of Spring

            The UK tour is a double-bill, so they’re performing two dances (Rite of Spring and Petrushka). Each day the company rehearsed one piece in the morning and the other at night, so I also helped with the transition between them.

            I was lucky enough to be included in the 90-minute yoga sessions at 8am on Wednesday-Friday. I’m not quite able to keep up with the dancers yet, but I love Michael’s yoga technique/style (the calming and grounding effects, the exercise) and I can’t wait to keep up the practice for the next 5 weeks.

            On Friday, the dancers put on their costumes and the whole company ventured to Killashee Bog (just outside town) for a photoshoot. It was hilarious watching everybody stumble through the muddy, chilly bog. The sunlight was perfect and we got some really incredible pictures. See below for a few of my own:

Bog 1

Members of the company preparing for the photo shoot at Killashee Bog

 

Bog 2

Adventuring out to Killashee Bog

 

Everyone left freezing and dirty and exhausted, so, naturally, we stopped for a pint in Killashee before heading back to the Barracks in Longford.

            The company had an open dress rehearsal at noon on Saturday—we expected around 20 people from the town to show up and ended up with an audience of over 50! I came in early to help set up chairs and start packing for the get-out that afternoon. After the company had run the two dances and the audience cleared out, the crew and I packed all our stuff into a truck. It took almost 4 hours, but we cleared almost everything in the room by 6:00.

Barracks 7

The Barracks after we’d cleared it on Saturday evening!

 

Truck

All our equipment packed up for travel in the truck

One of my main goals with this internship project is to discover what life on tour is like, so I’ve decided to do as the company does (for the most part). Therefore, I went out to eat more than I usually do, which allowed me to talk to some members of the company and to have some great food…

-Our hotel provided a full breakfast every morning.

-I had soups and sandwiches at The Green Apple nearly every day (there aren’t many dining options in Longford, anyway).

-Annabelle (our venue manager, from Singapore) and I went to dinner at Longford’s only Chinese/Thai food restaurant on Thursday night. We met up with Alex (dancer from New Zealand) there and went out for a Guinness afterward.

-When we got back from the bog, I had dinner with some of the dancers at one of two Indian restaurants in Longford.

-On Saturday night, Annabelle and I got take-out from the other Indian place and ate at the hotel. Later, most of the company met for a complimentary drink from the hotel bar!

            Today (Sunday), we took a bus from Longford to Dublin airport. I parted ways with the rest of the company and came back to Dublin city center—because because I have an Art History exam on Tuesday, I’m missing the first tour stop in Blackpool. However, I’m so excited to meet the company in Newcastle on Wednesday and continue my work with such amazing artists and human beings!!

Week 11: Last week in Dublin, St. Paddy’s and Longford Day 1

This week kicked off with an all-day party in the streets of Dublin to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint—that’s right: Saint Patrick’s Day. My friends and I went to the parade around noon: the floats were bizarre and exciting. The streets were packed with tourists and natives alike; it was nearly impossible to walk around without losing your friends in the crowd! We walked from the parade to a pub, then got some food before heading back to our house. We entertained a slew of guests—some of our German friends showed us a game called Flunkeeball—and everyone had a grand ol’ time late into the evening :)

 

After Monday, though, it was time to get down to business. I spent a lot of time in the library this week writing a 2,000 word Art History essay comparing Trinity’s Museum Building with the Berkeley Library—quite possibly the dullest paper I’ve ever had to write. On the bright side: part of our Irish Art class involved meeting this Thursday to learn about some of the sculptures on campus, which was legitimately interesting for the most part.

On Wednesday, I had a production meeting for Deathtrap. In the evening, I ran the sound and lights for one of the Applied Directing class’ 20-minute pieces, directed by my friend Claire. She and I met last week to program the cues and create a basic design for her piece from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. I thought the piece went really well, and I stayed after and saw another 20-minute piece from an Enda Walsh play!

Before my Art History seminar on Thursday, I co-lead a stage combat workshop as another fundraiser for Deathtrap. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to manage something like this, but after working out a plan with Alex (a second year in Players), we were able to teach a small group a basic stage fight sequence!

I accidentally slept through my comedy class on Friday morning because my iPhone literally died overnight… I spent all of Friday morning troubleshooting and researching and trying to resuscitate it, but to no avail. Thus, I lost some photos—including my St. Paddy’s pics—and all of the contacts I’ve obtained since being here. I downgraded to a super-simple brick phone on Saturday. RIP iPhone.

Over the weekend, I did A LOT of work for my lighting design on Deathtrap. I saw a run of the show on Saturday afternoon and spent the rest of the night making a plot. I’m teaching myself how to use Vectorworks (an auto-CAD lighting design software program) through the process, so it’s rather time-consuming. Regardless, I finished the plot in time to rig it on Sunday morning. I spent 7 hours in the theatre, hanging and focusing my lights, cutting and selecting gel colors, programming light cues, etc. After the rig, I went to a DELICIOUS restaurant called Cornucopia for dinner with my friends Aine and Sarah. We sat and talked over dinner for something like 2 hours; it was a lovely, relaxing time—well needed after a long day of tech.

On Monday morning, I finished my Art History and turned it in just before it was due at 11am. I went home, packed my non-perishable food and clothes for the week, and headed to campus to put some final touches on my lighting design. We ran a cue-to-cue at 4:30, and I watched the show’s dress rehearsal at 7. I’m really pleased with the way the show turned out; of course the work is never over, but I’m proud of my work on it. Here are a few pics from the dress:

Deathtrap 1

Deathtrap preset

Deathtrap 2

Myra, Act I

Deathtrap 3

Sydney and Clifford, Act 2 scene 2

Deathtrap 4

Porter and Helga, Act 2 scene 3

After the show, I caught an 11pm bus to Longford. I got in around 1:30 to Longford Arms Hotel and crashed, exhausted.

            Today (Tuesday) marked the first official day of my internship with Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre. I had breakfast at the hotel, met up with some members of the crew, and headed to rehearsal at the company’s makeshift studio in what used to be old army barracks. I spent the day getting to know those members of the cast and crew that I didn’t meet in Rome, running some prop-related errands around Longford, helping out with miscellaneous technical to-dos. The cast rehearsed until 6, then we had a production meeting before I came back to the hotel where I sit writing this post.

            If today was any indication, I’m going to have an amazing time on this project: they make amazing art chock-full of integrity, the cast and crew are all super friendly and accommodating, and we have a UK-wide tour ahead of us. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

P.S. I realize this post is lacking in photographs–this is the result of my late iPhone and that I wasn’t able to start documenting with Fab Beast today. I hope that you’ll enjoy this series of photos I took in Longford today instead. I call them “The Pensive Duck.”

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So pensive.

Weeks 9 & 10: Lots of business + Bray, Kilkenny and visits from friends

This post is a week and 2 days overdue… again, I apologize. These past two weeks have been, by far, the busiest and most stressful since I’ve been abroad. However, everything keeping me busy has been worthwhile, fulfilling and exciting!

For organization’s sake (because I’m a bit of a neat-freak, as I’m learning lately), I’m going to break this post into separate sections for week 9 and one for week 10 and break down the highlights of each week:

WEEK 9

For starters, Real Estate’s new album, Atlas, has been the soundtrack to my life since its release on the 3rd.

I spent most of Monday finishing my character subtext assignment on Charlotta from The Cherry Orchard for Principles of Directing. Then I went to see the Dublin Castle, which was disappointing aside from its beautiful Dubh Linn gardens. See pics below!

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View of Dubh Linn Gardens from the castle
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Throne room in Dublin Castle
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View of Dublin Castle from the gardens

On Tuesday morning, I worked a bake sale fundraiser for Deathtrap before my History lecture. Seeing that it was also International Pancake Day, my friend Sam and I went to a Food and Drink Society/Film Society event for free pancakes and a screening of Matilda.

I planned to go to Bray this Wednesday, but the weather was gloomy. Instead, I visited the National Museum of History and Archaeology. It’s an impressive museum, and even though I’m not much of a history or archaeology fanatic, I had a great time perusing their collections. See photos below:

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The main room of the museum, containing loads of historic artifacts and the Irish gold collection

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Some of the Irish gold collection

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One of the fabled ‘Bog Men.’ The body was preserved in a bog until it was discovered in 2003

I met up with Will and his flatmates after Directing and headed to the JW Sweetman’s pub for our friend Aine’s birthday party. We had a great night chatting over a few drinks, and I made exciting plans to stay with Will in London during my time there in April!

            On Friday night, a bunch of students gathered for an IFSA-organized (and funded) night including dinner and a show! We went to Le Bon Crubeen, a French bistro, for dinner—the food was exquisite. I had a crab and crawfish salad to start, followed by an 8oz steak w/fries, and chocolate orange truffle cake w/ espresso ice cream for dessert. Then we went to the legendary Abbey Theatre to see Sive by John B Keane, which I can only describe as a well-done production of an unsurprising play. Regardless, it was a ton of fun!

After the show, I met up with Jackson, a long-time friend from Denver who’s studying architecture in Rome for the term. We went to The Gingerman for a beer and a great conversation before we came home and he crashed on the couch.

The next day, I showed Jackson around Dublin a bit before his 5pm flight to London. His visit was brief, but it was really nice to touch base after the years.

Also on Saturday: my housemates and I danced the night away at Sweeney’s’ Reggae Night.

WEEK 10

Our fridge broke down, which made the week extra stressful. On the bright side, though, the plumbers fixed our water pressure—our showers are now immaculate.

I spent practically all of Sunday-Monday writing a 2000-word history essay about the relationship between race and popular music in America (due Tuesday morning). I focused my argument on the recurring theme of White musicians commandeering genres with Black origins—starting with blues and Rock and Roll, ending with Hip Hop. Though I don’t particularly enjoy spending hours slaving over an essay, this topic was really interesting and I thoroughly appreciated being able to cite Kanye West lyrics and Billboard 200 lists for a history paper.

To compensate for our broken refrigerator, IFSA gave us coupons to Lemon café. I used one of mine on Tuesday night and got what was possibly the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever eaten:

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The Crispy Monte Cristo: chicken, bacon and swiss cheese inside a crepe, dipped in maple syrup. Served with a mexican salad on the side. And a latte. Best sandwich ever.

When I got home that night, I played guitar for 4 hours straight (a necessary outlet in light of my limited playtime as of late).

            This Wednesday, I actually did go to Bray. It was just as spectacular as my trip to Howth (though the weather wasn’t quite as perfect). I had a wonderful time walking along the beach and the seaside Promenade, then doing the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones and hiking to the Bray Head and back into town. Nature-filled day tips like this always refresh and inspire me, reminding me of how beautiful the Earth is and how lucky I am to be living on it. Below are some pictures from my day:

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View of Bray Head from the Promenade. Luckily, it didn’t stay this misty and grey all day.

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Taken from my journey along the Cliff Walk.

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More from the Cliff Walk

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Misty view of Bray from Bray HeadImage          View as I hiked down the mountain!

  When I got back into Dublin, I met up with Kathleen, a good friend from SMU who was in town with her dad for a brief two days! It was so wonderful to see her and to get a little reminder of SMU. I quickly showed her around Trinity before we headed to my place to prepare for a fundraiser dinner party I was hosting for the cast/crew of Deathtrap. The dinner party was a huge success: there was tons of great food and drink, and we raised exactly 100 euro for the show! I made a maple sweet potato casserole for dessert—my first time cooking for a large group—and it went over quite well :)

I spent all day Thursday stressing out about my 10-minute directing scene, which was presented that evening. For the past two weeks, I’d been struggling to cast actors, book rehearsal space and pick the right scene. In the end, I presented a section from scene one of Proof by David Auburn, starring Kelly (one of my housemates) as Catherine and Michael (whom I’d met during Summit week) as Hal. I was really proud of our work, and so relieved for the hectic process to finally be over with!

            On Friday, I presented a book review on Matthew Frye Jacobson’s Whiteness of a Different Color for my history seminar. Afterward, I walked to Heuston station to catch a bus to Ballyellen to meet and stay with Emma’s (a good friend from SMU) grandparents! Bridie and Martin picked me up from the bus station and drove me to their quaint country home (or bungalow, as Bridie called it).

            I sat down to a plate of freshly baked scones and a cup of tea and talked with Bridie and Martin until dinner. Bridie made me baked salmon, mashed potatoes carrots and peas for dinner; both that and the scones were delicious. We had more tea and relaxed by the fireplace before calling it an early night.

            The next day we drove into Kilkenny for lunch at Longton’s hotel, which was, as Emma put it on the phone the night before, very posh (I had an amazing steak burger w/chips). Bridie and Martin drove back to Ballyellen afterward and I wandered around Kilkenny for the next few hours, during which I visited Kilkenny Castle, Black Abbey, Watergate Theater, and Kyteler’s Inn where I watched part of the Ireland-France rugby match.

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Kilkenny and the River Noire

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Kilkenny Castle

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Canice’s Cathedral and the Round Tower

Martin picked me up after my gorgeous warm and sunny day in town, and I arrived back at the house to another fantastic dinner: black pudding, bacon, mushrooms, sausage and homemade bread with tea, of course! That night, I walked into nearby Goresbridge and enjoyed the serene, moonlit countryside.

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Countryside as the sun set

            On Sunday morning, I walked back to Goresbridge and strolled along the river there. I took a bus home at noon and said thank yous and goodbyes to Martin and Bridie. I had a very relaxing and rejuvenating trip and am so grateful for their generosity and hospitality.

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Martin and Bridie’s home in Ballyellen!

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Flowers and rolling country hills

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View from Goresbridge

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Goresbridge itself, in all its glory

On Sunday evening, I met up with the crew of Wasted (an upcoming Players show, written by Kate Tempest) to implement my sound design. I had a great time constructing my design for the show, which consists of many ominous and ambient soundscapes and a grungy, minimalist dance party song.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, wherein I’ll talk about my St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin and last week of classes before I head off to Longford to start rehearsals with Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre!! :)

Week 8: Reading Week

This week was reading week in Trinity’s academic calendar, so I didn’t have any lectures to attend! Thus, I spent a lot of time relaxing (sleeping in, watching movies—I finally got around to seeing Jackie Brown, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fargo and Rushmore) and a lot of time doing schoolwork. Because I’m leaving town in late March, I wanted to take advantage of this week to take care of some essays/projects for my classes. Also, Alex and I had the whole house to ourselves from Sunday-Thursday, because the girls were all travelling to Paris and Will went to county Kerry!            

            On Monday, I went to the gym and used most of the day to relax and finished writing a response paper for my Comedy course. I went to coffee at Fixx with Catherine in the evening, and Alex and I met up Libby around 9 at Sweeney’s pub. We hung out at Sweeney’s for a few hours, chatting and enjoying the live music (which I participated in, see photo below).

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Playing Sweeney’s Open Mic on Monday!

            Tuesday was a productive day: I spent most of it at the library choosing on my 10 minute directing scene and working on my character subtext project for The Cherry Orchard. I also had a production meeting for Wasted, for which I’m making a sound design. I made it home around 6 and met up with Alex, ate some dinner, and then the two of us headed to Academy (concert venue) to see Danny Brown!! It was a really fun concert, and very interesting: the hip-hop scene is unsurprisingly small in Dublin, so Danny and opening act Vic Mensa had to work extra hard to keep the crowd up to their hype standards. The crowd also turned into a complete mosh pit before Danny got through his opening number.

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DANNY BROWN!! Sorry for the terrible picture–it’s hard to snap the perfect shot in a moshing crowd…

            I spent the whole of Wednesday sleeping in, watching movies and playing guitar. The end of February had me in something of a mental funk, so I used it as an excuse to be a bum all day :)

            On Thursday, I went to the gym (I’ve been swimming b/c I borrowed goggles and a cap from Odile—it’s been such a great stress reliever and I just love being in the water) and did some more work on my Directing assignments. I had pan-roasted potatoes and onions with a fried egg, spinach and melted cheddar for dinner—I’ve been making this every few days… Then, I left the house around 5:30 and took the DART train to Monkstown for my Bodhrán lesson with Helen from the Bodhrán Experience. The lesson only lasted an hour, but I learned a lot more about playing the bodhrán drum (particularly how to change the pitch of the drum while playing).

After we were through, I caught the train back into Dublin and spent the rest of the night at home.

            I had a second guitar lesson with Lisa, an Irish first-year student, on Friday morning. After we’d finished, I headed home, ate lunch, and walked with Alex to Phoenix Park. It was a gorgeous day (even though it rained on us from time to time), and we had a really nice time walking around the park and through Dublin. See pics below!

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I want to go back and sit on that bench…

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Alex walking along the Liffey!

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Wellington Monument in Phoenix Park

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When we got home, we were both exhausted from the 3-hour walk. I spent the rest of the evening at the library until it closed at 10, then came home and went to bed.

            I got up early Saturday morning, did some work at Starbucks, then spent a few hours in the library. I went to a production meeting for Deathtrap, which goes up week 11 and for which I’m designing lights, from 2-3 and then went to the gym.

When I got home, I met Dave, who lived in my room last semester when he studied at Trinity. He’s come back to Ireland from the States to win back his Irish girlfriend from last semester—a bold and noble move! He and I, along with Tara and her friends visiting from University of Vermont went out to Doyle’s for a drink. When we came home I talked to Dave for a bit before heading to bed—it was sort of surreal talking to somebody who’d literally been in my exact position a few short months ago!

Today (Sunday) I slept till noon, then got up and finished my character subtext essay. I went to check out the “Fail Better” exhibit at Trinity’s Science Gallery around 4:30, which was really awesome and inspiring. The exhibit showed a ton of failed inventions and patents, as well as some successful ones, and had a psychology experiment about failure… After I participated, one of the attendants of the experiment explained that, according to my survey results, I am an “incremental theorist”—meaning that I believe intelligence can be changed, as opposed to “fixed entity theorists” who believe intelligence is fixed. Really intriguing stuff! I’ll definitely go back to check out the Gallery’s next exhibit.

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I don’t know why these giant tribal masks are on posts along the street, but they look pretty funky (in a good way)

I’m heading off to play at The Bleeding Horse I a few hours, and I’ve still got some homework to do, so enjoy these random pics that I didn’t get a chance to upload in February. Bye for now!

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Found in a random alley

 

 

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Found on Adelaide St… Genius

 

Week 7: Beautiful weather and Belfast

As the title implies, this weeks was gorgeous: the weather was super sunny and warm (still in the high 40s-low 50s, but nicer than usual), and the wind died down a lot from last week.

Aside from that, it was kind of a tough week—I’m starting to miss/think of home and SMU more and more, and my homework load is really starting to increase. Nevertheless, I’m having a great time out here, and these challenges are only opportunities for growth :)

News for this week:

-I saw the show I rigged lights for (Osama the Hero by Dennis Kelly) on Monday, and I saw RENT at Players on Wednesday!

-Had a second rehearsal for my directing scene with my group, and we presented our 5-minute pieces on Thursday night—all went very well and Chris (our lecturer) gave me encouraging feedback.

-I watched the films The Searchers (a controversial John Wayne Western film) for my American History course and Death Proof (classic Tarantino) for fun… and I deeply enjoyed them both.

-I went to my first meeting of Community & Culture, a program being run by our IFSA coordinator, Suzi, on Monday evening. It’s a really interesting course designed to structure the study abroad experience—it’s already made me think of my time here differently. I won’t be able to attend as many of the future sessions as I’d like, but I look forward to those I can!

-We had our second house party, after which a few of us went to a silent disco at Whelan’s. I’d never been to a silent disco before, but I’ll definitely go again.

-On Friday afternoon, I took a bus to meet up with the rest of the IFSA-Butler crew in Belfast! They all arrived on Thursday, but because I had class Thursday night/Friday morning so I had to meet up with them on my own and miss their Friday activities… Anyway, here’s what I did do:

My departed at 3:30 from O’Connell Street in Dublin. I took a picture of the famous Millennium Spire just for fun:

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The Millennium Spire on O’Connell St 

I arrived in Belfast around 6:00 and made my way to Jurys Inn, where I had MY OWN ROOM!! I went out for dinner and met Anna, and IFSA student who studies in Cork. After we had pizza, she introduced me to some other Cork students. Later, I met up with my housemates and we went to a karaoke bar before calling it a night.

On Saturday morning, we all did a Black Taxi Tour around Belfast, which included historical and cultural insight galore from our tour guides/taxi drivers. They showed us Shankill Road, Falls Road, the Peace Wall, the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, the International Wall and more. This was such a thrilling and educational experience, getting to hear about and see remnants of the still-persistent feud between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. We heard stories from before and leading up The Troubles in the 70s and their impact still today. See pictures from the tour below:

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Steve McKeag mural- nicknamed “Top Gun,” he was an assassin/freedom fighter for the Ulster Defence Association
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The ever-watching UFF gunman…
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Signing the Peace Wall. 45ft at its highest point (shown here)
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My name on the Peace Wall!
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The cages on the left side of the house are to shield the backyards from rocks/bottles which are sometimes thrown over the wall

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Part of the International Wall. Also known as the Injustice Wall.

We got back to the hotel around 1, then Alex and I went to The Dome in Victoria Square shopping center to see the view of Belfast. After that, we walked to the Titanic quarter to see the TITANIC EXPERIENCE. I enjoyed this museum much more than I’d expected—it included a 3D virtual tour of the Titanic’s interior, a ride detailing the step by step building of the ship, models of the first, second and third class cabins, a gallery showing modern footage from dives to the ship’s remains, and so much more. I was pleasantly surprised by such a tourist-y attraction!

Later, we grabbed burgers and chips (fries, in America) for dinner. We went back to the hotel, met up with our housemates and a few others, and went to a pub called (wait for it)… Filthy McNasty’s. It wasn’t actually filthy or nasty, in fact it had a great atmosphere, good music and a rockin’ outdoor garden. We stayed there for a few hours and stopped by the legendary Crown Bar on the way home. This pub was really cool too—it’s decked out with ornate decorations and has individual booths for people to sit in. However, we went across the street to the hotel soon after.

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Photo of housemates (+ Libby) at Filthy McNasty’s. From left to right: Sarah, Tara, me, Vicky, Libby, Alex

This morning (Sunday) we took the bus back to Dublin at 9:00. I spent the rest of the day relaxing/organizing/writing an essay, played a few songs at The Bleeding Horse’s open mic and ended my day writing this post.

Also—I can’t wait for the coming week: Reading week, aka NO CLASSES…

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