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