Sunday 22 September 2013

Hello from Clashnessie!!

It's been ages since I wrote, because we've been out even FURTHER into the wilds of the Highlands! We arrived this evening at the house of Vanessa and David - two wonderful and lovely friends of my mum's, who have created an idyllic paradise near Clashnessie. We're staying with them for two nights while we do a show in Lochinver tomorrow night. We were greeted with wine, beer, Lamb and Prune Tagine, Veggie Tagine, and a phenomenal dessert!! Happy happy Idiots. Thanks so much Vanessa and David. Lochinver - see you tomorrow!

Since last I wrote, we've done four shows! Aros Centre on Skye, Applecross Village Hall, Berneray Community Hall, and An Lanntair in Stornoway. I've got LOADS to say on each, so look out for separate blogs for tales of 70s Guesthouses and Ukranian land-ladies, treacherous mountain passes, ceilidhs in blackhouses, excellent seafood, stags roaming around our vans, sheep napping in the road, and the most wonderful audiences!!

We've had an amazing journey so far. This is an amazing group of people. Every morning we get in vans, drive several hours straight to another venue, unload the set and equipment, then Susan and Aiyana work tirelessly to make the set work in whatever space we're in, while the actors go have a wee break. Then we do the show - every night so different - pack up, load out, go to bed, and repeat! This can only be done with incredible patience, generosity, and mountains of passion for telling stories....all of which this group has in abundance. So honoured to be on the road with them. A wee tid-bit from Berneray ahead of a longer the end of the show, the lights went dark and nobody - I mean, nobody - breathed/moved for the longest time. It was as if the outside world didn't exist. We were all - the audience, the players, the crew, utterly connected in the unfolding magic. Then we did a few curtain calls. None of us will ever forget that night!!

Off to bed....more soon...

Oh wait!! Vanessa just produced a bully beef tin from the 1st World War, that had been hidden in the wall of the house in 1951. It had belonged to a Mr. Mackenzie, who once lived here, and had fought in the War. We just passed it around. Holding history in our hands....AND the family in the play are Mackenzies!! Synchronicity rules.

Night night xxx

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Idiots on the road!!


THE IDIOT AT THE WALL is now on the road! Discovery of past few days: blogging/tweeting about a Highlands and Islands Tour is tricky due to lack of reception in some parts of the Highlands and Islands!! So let's get caught up!

Last week we moved out of our rehearsal space at The Arts Complex in Edinburgh. Thank you to Dale, Doreen, and all who made us feel so welcome - we had loads of work to do and we had a blast rehearsing there. It was such a privilege to be in a safe place to explore and rediscover this story with such a talented bunch of people.

From there, we moved to the gorgeous Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, where we began tech-ing the show. Thank you SO much to Julie, Brian, Iain in the restaurant, and all at the Beacon for such a warm reception and for all your support. A marathon of work began here - for the cast, working and re-working scene changes and getting used to the space, and for Emily Reutlinger (our director), Susan (our Production Manager and also our Lighting Designer!) and Jan Bee Brown (our Designer) it was time to make the show look focused and beautiful - and what an amazing job they did. Talk about master-craftswomen! After several long days, and some great work on music with Annie Grace and Aly Macrae, we performed our first preview to a fantastically receptive audience on Saturday afternoon. It was sizzling - a great start!

On Saturday evening we officially opened the show - and I can't remember ever performing to a more lively audience....laughs, gasps, swoons, and TWO CURTAIN CALLS! What a thrill! It's so hard to tell what sort of show you've got on your hands until you get to play to a whole new audience, and so it's a privilege for us all to be telling this story anew each night :-)

Massive thanks to our Press and Marketing Officer, Jane Hamilton, and to the localGreenock press for helping us to draw a crowd. Especially touching to see so many locals coming out. And Tim Barrow, Lucy Goldie and I had a blast talking to Inverclyde Radio about the show! Lucy Goldie was a natural!

On Wednesday I headed into Glasgow for a live chat with Janice Forsyth on the BBC Culture nervous was I??! But it turned out really well. Dead chuffed :-)

We were also joined on Friday by our Videographer, Robbie Jones, and our Production Photographer, Eoin Carey...can't wait to see the results!

Thank you so much to the Turner clan who helped so much during production week - Mum and Dad for ferrying props around and helpng us book B&Bs, Dad for helping us with our Gaelic, and my sister Ruth for being on hand to help with nutritional/medical emergencies - so thankful you were around :-) And thank you Murdo Turner and Tim du Feu for easing our musical transition into this production. I hope you caught the broadcast of 'Odhran's theme on the Culture Studio. Janice loved it! xx

After the show on Saturday, we packed our set, lights, and luggage into our van, and then Emily cracked open some bubbly. She and I have worked very closely together over the past year and a half to get the script where it is, and to get to this point - and it was pretty emotional to realize she was cutting us loose, and giving the show over to us to take on the road. Thank you, Emily, for your dedication, patience, generosity and PLUCKINESS!! We'll see you again soon. Sleep well!!

On Sunday morning we set off for Craignish Village Hall in Ardfern. Many of the cast were strangers to this part of the country, and so the lessons in local history along the way from Mr. Kenny Lindsay were most welcome! And the jokes, too. We like Kenny's jokes :-) We seemed to pass through at least 4 kinds of weather (and some floods!) on the drive north....a sign of things to come! But that's the thing about Scotland - our landscape looks stunning/dramatic/inviting in all kinds of weather. Anyway, our drivers, Producer Aiyana and PM Susan, are feisty behind the wheel!

Our show at Craignish was just wonderful. Thanks Diane and all for the welcome :-) We were all nervous/excited to do our first performance in a village hall, and we couldn't have had a better show. The set and costumes against the wood of the hall's interior looked absolutely tremendous under the lights - well done Susan. And the audience! They were so close (after adding an extra row of chairs)! Brilliant! They were absorbed throughout, and we were once more delighted to do two curtain calls! Thank you Craignish, for coming out to see us, and for your lovely comments after the show. Hope to see you again sometime!

After a very pleasant night and amazing breakfast of Murrays Smoked Salmon, in Ford, we set off for the drive up to Skye. Great bunch of folk to travel with. Great chat, great tunes, and I am learning new toons from Annie Grace as we go - what a treat. We'll try not to drive her mad with our 'deedliy-dee-ing' of new tunes! We arrived in Portree last night, and had a lovely dinner. Thanks so much to Sharon and all at the Portree Hotel for taking such good care of us.

And now here we are at Aros!! There's been loads of tickets sold for tonight - woop woop! I'm getting ready to chat to the BBC ahead of them filming some of the show here tonight - a wee feature will go out on the local news on Thursday - I'll keep you posted!

Lovely to meet Dave at last - thanks for having us, and here's to a great show!

Tomorrow we head to Applecross for our show there tomorrow night. Connection-depending, I'll write more then :-)

And pics to follow!!

Els xo