View of Qlab file

‘Dún na mBan Trí Thine’ on tour

I arrived back in Ireland on the 5th of September after nearly seven weeks to find out ‘Dún na mBan Trí Thine’, the Taibdhhearc’s Galway International Arts Festival play from the summer, would be touring in November. I wouldn’t be operating the subtitles as the tour was of the Gaeltachtaí; Gaoth Dobhair, Ráth Cairn and Coirce Dhuibhne. Instead I was operating Qlab (Audiovisual), as our original operator had a new job.

I couldn’t be at the rehearsals leading up to the remount in Galway because the second #ABCirk exchange was taking place that week. Luckily the experience of operating subtitles put me in a good position to operate Qlab.

We had two shows in the Taibhdhearc, 8th and 9th. We packed up the van to travel after the show on the night. It took until 1am to de-rig everything, decide what to pack, and pack the other rentals away.

 

10th; We left at 9am to travel to Gaoth Dobhair, Dún na nGall. Amharclann Gaoth Dobhair was nice and had some staff on hand to help us. We did our get-in (literally getting all the stuff) – and then we got kicked out shortly after 7pm! They were showing a film. We decided to have family dinner in The Ivy. Everyone we spoke to had Irish and it was a fine evening! We stayed in Teaċ Campbell – a very nice B&B.

11th; Focus (directing and focussing lights), Q to Q (where the technicians go from each cue to the next to make sure everything looks and sounds right) then we had a few hours free before the show at 8pm. The technicians attended the local pub, which also proved to have very nice food (nice one, Gaoth Dobhair).  And show at 8pm! It all went well even though it was strange not to be in an enclosed control room.

A view of the beach in Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegall.

12th; The mostly free day. Found the beach! Show at 8pm. Which had some strange added heater noises! But went well otherwise. Then the get-out (like the get-in, but reverse), met some of the crew in Tí Sheáin-Óig again, and bed.

13th; Start the process all over again! Out of Gaoth Dobhair and on to Ráth Cairn at 9am. We arrived to find ourselves in a community Hall – which still had a set on stage!

Image of set-builder on-stage crying at the thought of having to take down a set before putting up our own touring theatre set, with ladder.

Set builder despairs at the thought of removing one set before even beginning ours.

But our inventive touring set-builder deconstructed and reconstructed it to give us a great backdrop and masking (wings, for actors to hide behind before entering the stage). Here we weren’t kicked out until 8pm, which gave us enough time to rewire our 16Amp plugs to 15Amp plugs. Though we struggled to find food it Athboy, where we were staying in The Lawrence.

Arrived back after breakfast to find the bed made and Alleen Babbejaan stretched out in luxury.

14th; Focus, Q to Q and the show was well-attended in the evening! We enjoyed some refreshments in the bar next door, and got to hear some of the local musicians play.

15th; Found little to do in Athboy for the day other than stroll, nap and send postcards. Show again at 8pm and then the get-out.

 

16th; All aboard the bus again to leave for our last stop, Coirce Dhuibhne in Ciarraí. This was another lovely theatre space! We had some problems with sound because one of our cables (jack to XLR) got damaged, so we had to edit the file on Qlab to travel through one channel and rely on the one other jack to XLR we had. We stayed in Óstán Coirce Dhuibhne, which was beautifully located amongst the hills by the sea. I would have gone walking but the boots I had were letting in water sadly.

17th; Once got everything ready for the last time, and the show was well-attended in the evening.

A view from the control area we set up because the control room itself was too small for two of us.

18th; Our last night! Our touring lighting technician had a show in Dublin and our back-up joined us for the last show. We gathered everything up for the last time, checklist and all. Once again we had to rewire the 15Amp plugs we borrowed, and headed back to the hotel. Not only were we celebrating the last show and the end of the tour, but also the 70th birthday of one of our actors!

19th; A quiet bus ride back to Galway, rewiring 16Amp plugs on to cables, stopping in petrol stations, and we landed back to our home theatre for shortly after 5pm after completing the Taibhdhearc’s first national tour in over ten years.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 20th-23rd of May

I took my first trip with people in about six years to visit Edinburgh, Scotland, for an extended weekend. Booking the flights about six weeks in advance they cost about €30 with Ryanair, and we got six-person room (for six of us) in a rather nice, very central hostel called Budget Backpackers for £52 per person, for three nights.

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The only problem was we couldn’t check in ’til 1pm, and we had naturally arrived at 7am to make the most of the day. But we were able to drop off our bags and wander freely. We visited the National Gallery which was free, but took donations.

We were quite surprised to find some very famous paintings in it! We also spotted our first bit of Gaidhlig !

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After this we spent an hour being tired, eating ice-cream and coffee in McDonalds. As the time approached 1pm we decided to each chip in and buy a heap of lunch stuff (bread, cheese, hummus, fruit, water – £3.50 each) and made our way back to the hostel.

Two of our party proceeded to take a nap while myself and another went to buy towels, pharmacy stuff and postcards. We returned and sat down and had lunch, with two others, then woke up the rest of the party. We finally headed out again and wandered up the Royal Mile (which is in fact a mile and one-eighth, between Edinburg and Holyrood castles) to Edinburgh castle – where we bought more ice-cream and took many touristy pictures.

We got dinner in Mamma’s American Pizza, in the Grassmarket (a minute’s walk from our hostel); the nachos are good. Tired out, we returned the hostel and played board-games before going to bed, which would be our evening ritual.

Saturday we all got up at various times and hunted down breakfast. Myself and two others went to Auld Jock’s Café, just around the corner, where they had breakfast sandwiches they were very happy with, and I had an insurmountable amount of porridge. The tea was also very good!

We then walked to Arthur’s seat, the highest point in Edinburgh. The weather was great though very windy and dusty up top. We sat and took in the view, played some very windy frisbee (“Why don’t you just throw the frisbee over the edge and be done with it?”), until it started to threaten to rain.

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We began wandering aimlessly, and passed an Occupy Scotland camp, in favour of Scottish independence.

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We came across the Parlamaid na h-Alba (Scottish Parliament). Their sign had Gaidhlig on it, and being fluent Irish speakers we were curious and went inside.

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We were able to go around a lot of the building. They had exhibitions on the policies and politics of Scotland, and all their signs were in English, Gaidhlig, and some were in other languages, too.

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We also found someone in the gift-shop who spoke a bit of Gaidhlig and we compared it to Irish. Their restaurant was very reasonably priced so we had tea there – and shortbread which was the best shortbread I’d ever had.

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We headed back for the hostel, stopping in Tesco on the way for lunch again. Two of our party then headed out to watch a match while the rest of investigated the Chill Out room in the hostel, with board-games and books and writing postcards.

We then all met up again and went for dinner in Ong Gie Korean Restaurant (about 15 minutes from our hostel), which did Korean Barbeque. Myself and one other of our party are vegetarians so we ordered deep-fried tofu and yakisoba noodles. It was my first time having tofu and I wasn’t a fan, but the other vegetarian was. Everyone else was very happy with the food, though the said they would have eaten a lot more. We also ordered a bottle of Soju between us, which is a bit like weak vodka, and deep fried cakes and ice-cream for dessert.

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On our walk back we stopped in a fish&chip shop across from our hostel that did deep-fried Mars bars (and Snickers!) which we had to try. I personally found it gross but everyone else enjoyed them. We then returned to our room and drank a few beers while playing board-games and re-watching [and quoting] ‘Napoleon Dynamite’.

Sunday we had the leftovers from lunch yesterday for breakfast, and three of us went on a mission to find the grave of Tom Riddle. Sadly we only croissants in Tesco. We also then got caught in torrential rain (“Just like home, eh?!”). We arranged with the rest of our party to meet at Camera Obscura, which had been on the list of attractions for us.

It is a building full of visual and optical illsuions, beginning with the most famous part the Camera Obscura itself, which lets you see all of Edinburgh. It costs £14 (£12.50 for a student) and I thought it was very much worth it. They had about six levels, starting at the top with a great view of the city, binoculars and monoculars.

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The other levels had different things including holograms, fun-house mirrors, kaleidoscopes,a mirror maze, and – our favourite – The Vortex. Which is basically a gangway you walk along that has a spinning wall, which sounds ridiculous but we genuinely went through it about ten times.

We then visited the sister hostel to Budget Backpackers, Kickass Hostele, and got coffee and muffins – AND THE FIRE ALARM WENT OFF. And no one moved until we were told we had to get out. We took a short break after and went for dinner in Byron’s, along the Royal Mile. Well known for its burgers, they also had great milkshakes and nachos. We then returned to the hostel and played games.

Monday was our last day. We had to pack up our stuff and be out of the room by 10am, but could also leave our bags in the locker until 6pm – for £1 per locker (they’re quite big so we only needed two between the six of us). We went to a park near Edinburgh University where we passed most of our time playing frisbee, eating bread and drinking coffee. I headed off after a while to send my postcards (which took TEN days to arrive to people in Ireland) and by biscuits. I bumped into the rest of the party on the Royal Mile.

Our final meal was in Frankie and Benny’s on the Royal Mile, where we all got pasta. It was okay. We then left for the bus, thinking we’d have a little while free before our flight. Which ended up being a long while free because we were delayed.

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But at least we boarded and were no length before we arrived back in Dublin airport where we’d started.

‘A Tender Thing’

So, last Saturday I traveled up to Dublin to see ‘A Tender Thing’ in the Project Arts Centre. It was a matinée and the light atmosphere entering the theatre did not in the least bit prepare me for what I would watch.

After walking into the already crowded auditorium we took our seats in the second row and sat in awe momentarily gazing at the spotless set, decorated in shades of Royal Blue, perfectly depicting a tastefully laid-out bedroom with a door leading out on my left, and a bathroom to my right. A double bed, chair, dressing table and wardrobe sat on stage.

Before it started my theatre companions filled me in on it a bit; written by Ben Power, it’s based on Romeo and Juliet, as if they hadn’t died at the end. It has two rather famous actors; Owen Roe playing Romeo and Olwen Fouéré playing Juliet.

I should mention, I have never cried at a play before (and I do not cry very often as is). Nothing could have prepared me for the way I  would sob uncontrollably during that play.

Romeo comes on stage: “Give me the light”. The lights come up for the first time of many in a visually stunning way.

The play opens with explaining, if a bit cryptically, what is to come. Juliet is bound to die, by her own [husband’s] hand, after falling fatally ill. It starts rightly with them proclaiming love for each other. Early on Juliet reveals she’s quite sick. After this scene a few sniffs and subtle wiping of eyes could be observed. Later on when Juliet fails to slide off the bed and suffers incontinence, Romeo finds her on the floor crying and shouting “I sicken love!”. I completely broke down and would have left, if I hadn’t had about a dozen people blocking my exit.

I was glad I stayed though. It had some very striking moments you rarely see on stage, which brought to it a very real and raw beauty. I was also slightly wowed by the mechanics of the stage, including the slide away bed and secret hidden entrances.

After a wondrous dance piece at the end I left the auditorium a feeling a bit shook but also uplifted.