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.

Our Lighting Designer and Stage Manager bring Alleen Babbejaan to dinner in The Ivy, Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Dún na nGall.

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 our.

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.

Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 9: Sofia, Bulgaria

Wednesday, August 17th: On the overnight train to Bulgaria myself and the British couple I was sharing a compartment with got woken at 3am by border control. We were meant to arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria at 8:45am but actually arrived at 9:20am.

The British couple and I said goodbye, and then I immediately found myself walking towards Makedonia street with some Belgian and Swiss travellers. We departed after a while and some people along the way gave me directions until I bumped into an Italian traveller looking for the same hostel!

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Here I found myself before travelling to Greece.

Hostel Mostel – whichs turns out to be the nicest hostel I’ve ever stayed in.

Dropped off my bags and decided to join the Free Sofia Walking Tour at 11am as I was too early to go into my room. I’d never been on a walking tour before and expected it to be really lame and touristic – but it was actually great! Our guide was a very funny historian who was super enthusiastic and made it amazing. They also had lots of other tours to suggest to see more of Bulgaria.

On the way back I walked through a market selling communist era memorabilia and Cathedral of Saint Alexandar Nevski.

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Took a walk to the train station and around town for a while before chilling in the common room with the Italian traveller I’d met.

Thursday the Italian traveller and I decided to go on a hiking tour to the Boyana Waterfall. The hike up took about two hours, with a ten minute break, and was super beautiful.

Boyana Waterfall –

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and then Boyana Church.

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It was a small group and everyone was very friendly.

The tour guide was also very enthusiastic and chatted with us about lots of stuff.

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We made friends with some other travellers on the tour, and after, four of us got a recommendation for lunch from our tour guide; the national archive.

A somewhat imposing building, that you can’t enter without giving passport details, turns out to have a café on the top floor with a 360° view of Sofia.

So you can see the weather coming a mile away!

We decided to go to dinner together, too, to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant; Manastirska Magernitza.

 

One of the other hikers turned out out to be staying in Hostel Mostel so we returned to shower and nap before heading out again.

We all wandered around town after, taking pictures and discussing travelling – and then had to bid goodbye to one of our party. This was surprisingly sad as we’d all known each other less than a day!

We walked back after and went to bed.

Friday I headed to Rila Monastery, a tour which was arranged through the hostel.

They had drivers who drove the two hours out to Rila, which is a lovely drive through some small villages. Going with me were two German and one French traveller.

We stopped into a short hiking route – a short pilgrimage in fact to visit the cave of a monk.

And it turned out you couldn’t come back out from the cave – you had to climb out a small hole in the roof of the cave.

This was actually spectacularly terrifying, even to small woman experienced in circus. But the five of us, including the driver-come-tour-guide survived. We then visited a small chapel dedicated to the mink.

We then carried on to Rila.

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We had two hours to walk around.

There was also a lot carefully preserved frescoes.

Also some traditional clothing and information on farming inside some parts of the building.

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We left a bit early, as everyone was quite tired, and it turned out it was the driver’s last day before holidays so we figured they wouldn’t mind finishing early.

The next day I would realise I left my travelling partner of five years, Günther, in that car.

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The last picture I have of him, looking at Rila.

I went to the train station and reserved my space on the overnight train to Thessaloniki, Greece. I spent some time before the train in the hostel talking to a Welsh family who’d moved to Bulgaria. When I returned to the train station I bumped into three of the French travellers who’d been on the hiking tour. We chatted until the train arrived – at 11:55pm, 25 minutes late.

I had a compartment to myself this time, which at first seemed great – but then was actually a bit unnerving. But did eventually get to sleep.

‘Happy Days’

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‘Happy Days’ gives us a brief insight into the life of Winnie, a middle-aged woman. She is [at minimum] buried up to her waist in earth and almost single-handedly entertains us and herself for the course of the entire play. Her husband Willie who we do not see properly during the first act, appears only briefly in full view during the second act. Winnie regales us with tales she is reminded of by things in her handbag.

During the second act though she is buried up to her neck and can no longer access her bag. She still continues talking, in hope that Willie is still listening for she never did “learn to talk alone”.

To take on Beckett play is no mean feat. With their intricate directions that are insistantly followed it may be tedious and difficult for a company, in this case the Godot Company, London, to give the play its own stamp. For enduring that alone a certain level of respect must be held. For the woman, too, who talks almost non-stop for the duration, I must say I was impressed.

Unfortunately, as soon as I entered the auditorium I was somewhat disappointed. The pile of earth Winnie is buried in looked more like a crater on the stage and reminded me of some class of moon-scape. I didn’t think it was true to the first lines of the play stating “Expanse of scorched grass rising centre to low mound.” As it was the only piece of scenery on stage, I felt like more attention could have been paid to its construction.

All the other bells and whistles appeared to be present. It seemed truer to the script in terms of lights and sound which accompanied the start and end of the acts. A loud whoosh runs through the auditorium as the lights go up. Winnie’s bell to get up, and go to sleep, rings at an uncomfortably loud level (as written).

Holding none of the intensity of ‘Endgame’, or the mystery of ‘Waiting for Godot’ I think this production must appeal more to avid Beckett readers than the usual theatre-goer.

‘The Two Loves of Gabriel Foley’

With an immaculate set and a mildly humorous story-line, the Acorn players’ production of ‘The Two Loves of Gabriel Foley’ kept me entertained, for its first hour or so

The story by Jimmy Keary starts off with Gabriel, who lives with his mother, discussing a woman he finds attractive in his theatre group; Hazel. A long-time friend of the family’s, Chrissie, tries to ask him out, but he’s already on the verge of entanglement with Hazel.  He later finds out Hazel has plans to make him her third husband and sell his farm. With the help of Chrissie, Gabriel manages to brush her off, and the play ends on a positive note; after two and a half hours.

Upon entering the auditorium of Galway’s Town Hall Theatre, I was instantly struck by the detail of the set. The furniture, colours and perfectly-adorned walls screamed new-style old-fashioned Ireland. Some classic Irish music played as people seated themselves to create a complimentary atmosphere, and the play got off to a good start with two older women, Gabriel’s mother and aunt, having a hilarious back-and-forth commentary; again, very Irish and very believable.

However, by the time the interval came, an hour into the play, very little had happened worth noting (aside from Gabriel’s aunt’s commenting that he might be “one of those lesbians”). As the second “half” seemed to drag by (almost a half hour longer than the first part) I found myself melting into my seat listening to long winded conversations. Though with the THT’s unusual combination of college students and older audiences, I’ll admit that the humour of it all appealed greater to the other half than it did to me. While the dialogue aroused raucous laughter from some people, it evoked nothing but the occasional snort of derision from me.

Overall, not my cup of tea. But in a time when stage design is often kept quite minimalistic, it was nice to see such a detailed set. And while a bit lengthy and tedious, the play no doubt appealed to its own target audience greatly, which is something to be commended.