Thursday 21 November 2013

The beauty of Clashnessie, and more besides....

Hello again!

Sorry I've been away from this for aaaaaages. I was in London for a few days, hence the blogging silence...but I'm back home in Edinburgh and it's looking stunning in the winter sun! Now, where was I? Oh yes! Lochinver beckoned....

Sunday, September 22nd 2013

On this sunny Sunday we took the ferry from Stornoway and crossed over to Ullapool, enjoying some champion haddock and chips on the ferry! Ullapool was almost as quiet on a Sunday as Stornoway had been, so onwards we went to make our way to a place called Clashnessie. Yes, I know - it sounds too good to be true - but it's a real place!! Two wonderful friends of my Mum's, Vanessa and David, had very kindly offered us beds and warmth and food while we were in the area for our show in Lochinver. Vanessa had furnished Aiyana with some excellent directions for getting to our beautifully remote destination: if I remember rightly, it was along the lines of 'turn left after the box selling eggs, go to the end of the road and through the gate opposite; if you can't see a pig arc and black sheep, you're in the wrong place'. BRILLIANT! We arrived to the warmest, most heartfelt welcome from our hosts, and after some drinks and how-do-you-dos, we sat down to the MOST DELICIOUS lamb tagine we'd ever had! I was concerned we might overwhelm Vanessa and David by descending upon them, all 8 of us, but they were the kindest, most generous and relaxed hosts I've ever met. Check out the view we encountered when we stepped outside...

But of course, you never know who you might meet on the road in these parts - as Simon discovered early one morning...

On Monday, September 23rd, we played to a huge audience in Lochinver Village Hall, and a great show it was, too! The promoters in all these remote places work really hard to cultivate an audience for theatre and other cultural events, and they certainly did a wonderful job spreading thw word about our show - not to mention the excellent tea and biscuits in the interval. We love Highland hospitality!!

After the show we came home to another sumptuous meal with Vanessa and David - including chicken soup made with one of their own can't get much more organic! Oh, did I mention the plum tart?! Divine. And gluten free. Genius :-)

On Tuesday morning we set off once again! Understandably, we were somewhat reluctant to leave the Michelin-rated food and spectacular views, but we were due in Helmsdale that afternoon, so off we went, saying fond farewells, and with promises to return. A thousand thank-yous to Vanessa and David - what top-notch people :-)

Tuesday, September 24th 2013

On this day we arrived at Timespan in Helmsdale! Very glad we were to arrive too, as it was chucking it down! Ahaaaaa....we thought - it was about time we faced some real Highland weather ;-) Seeing loads of our posters and flyers around the place, we were excited to meet our audience! Susan had a challenge on her hands, to figure out how best to light a space totally different to anything else we had played - especially the white-washed walls and lower ceiling. But naturally, Susan was equal to the task, and we played in this lovely intimate space to a full house of happy, gracious people. One of our audience members was none other than the esteemed writer George Gunn. George had seen 'The Idiot at the Wall' at the Fringe 2012, and I was so chuffed to hear from this very clever man that he felt the show had grown tremendously. We had a lovely chat in the pub afterwards about Caithness, and Gaelic poets, and touring theatre, and Scottishness. Thank you for making the trip down, George - I hope we meet again! And thank you to Timespan for having us - what a wonderful asset to the community :-)

Wednesday, September 25th 2013

After quite a short drive from Helmsdale, we arrived in Inverness and after unloading at Eden Court, we were UNLEASHED on the shops!! It had been a wee while since we had been around such things, so it was fun to scatter and treat ourselves to new shoes and all sorts :-) As unofficial laundry mistress, I was appropriately excited to arrive at a theatre with awesome laundry facilities, and I ironed whilst happily chatting to the wardrobe team on the road with 'Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story', who were playing on the main stage.

Eden Court is an absolutely brilliant asset to Inverness. From theatre to dance to movies to excellent food, there's so much going on, and as you walk around the town chatting to people, it's clear they are incredibly proud of this cultural hub they now have, and of the quality of events coming through. It was quite an adjustment for us, to be on a pretty big stage after the last couple of venues we'd been in. The main thing we always had to remember, is that in a theatre where once more we can enjoy the height and expansiveness of the space, it's a great opportunity to let through the epic nature of the story - and the parts that God, nature, and fate play in the characters' lives. It was a really good show that night, and all of us actors definitely relished being on a stage again....just as well, since our director Emily was in the house! She made a wee trip up from Glasgow to see us, which was lovely, and helpful for us all to talk about how the show had grown through being out on the road.

Thursday, September 26th 2013

When we arrived to unload into Glengarry Community Hall, we were met with a super-duper surprise....Aiyana's husband Ephraim! He had come to visit, and was extremely welcome, especially since he's very tall/can lift stuff. and because he came bearing doughnuts....thanks Eff! This was a really impressive, well-maintained village hall - full of light and echoes! We really enjoyed this show. It was a smaller house, but somehow we all felt very free to stretch our legs, and extremely focused on telling the story for the first time. There were obviously loads of Gaelic speakers in the audience, which was just great, and we got a lovely response from everyone. Also, I must say, the ladies of the Hall committee provided a FEAST of cakes and scones and tea for the interval! Amazing hospitality! Here's a shot of us setting up in the afternoon. By setting up, I mean drinking tea/eating aforementioned doughnuts...

Friday, September 27th 2013

I should start by saying that we enjoyed spending 3 nights in same area - ie not doing so much driving! And as landscapes go, they don't get much better than the shores of Loch Ness.

Lucy was touched to find her namesake, a blind deer called Lucy, had been taken in and adopted by her hosts. One of the sweetest things I've ever heard...

And how was the show? We had a great crowd in at the Craigmonie Centre in Drumnadrochit! The people running the space there, which is part of an impressive new school, are running a slick operation, and it was great to see people of all ages in attendance. It's such a great feeling to look out and see kids' faces totally absorbed in the story unfolding :-)

After 5 shows in a row, we were pretty knackered, but there was still time for a cheeky pint at a local pub which was tucked away in a forest....I'm sure somebody will remind me what it was called...but it was ace! The folk on Loch Ness like a good boogy!

It's taraa for now, but I'll be back soon with tales from the Small Isles!!

Elspeth xxx

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