Thursday 5 December 2013

The Small Isles

Saturday September 28th 2013

On this day we crossed to the historic and beautiful island of Canna. The usual Calmac ferries were in dry-dock, so we lucked out and got a ride across on a wee pleasure-cruise boat - usually hired out for spotting whales and dolphins!

It was a magical crossing. We went via Eigg and then Muck, where Simon saw a magical horse and I played my fiddle to the ducks.

We were met off the boat on Canna by our lovely, marvellous hosts, who escorted us around the island's single road (which, naturally, becomes submerged in high tides...) to our home for the next two nights...

Beautifully cosy, and with a kitchen all ready to go, a couple of us got to work on dinner, whilst the others went to check out our venue!

 This is the new Camus Arts centre, and is a converted chapel - absolutely stunning and an ideal space for intimate theatre. In fact, we ended up placing the audience here, where Ms. Goldie is standing, and playing down here at the other end...

We like posing :-)

And have you ever seen such a pretty (and holy) dressing room?

We adjusted the set and blocking of the show to play what was a considerably smaller space, and the show was magic. It got off to an electric start when the connector for Annie's pipes ran away and hid itself in the grass before the show - so both the cast and audience, who were by then gathered outside the venue, helped to search for it......and someone found it! Cue much cheering! We went up a little late - but since the only way outta there was by boat and we were all there for the night, we figured no one was in a hurry! The island has a population of 11, and there were 15 in our audience....which means some people came over especially on the boat!! How awesome's that?? In fact, we met two of them on the crossing over, and assured them they were in for a theatrical feast :-) Perhaps it was the intimacy of the space, or the fact that it was a holy place, or that this was probably the smallest, most far-flung island we would play on and resembled the play's island - but there was something utterly bewitching about doing the play there. They thought so too, and gave us a standing ovation and lots of tears. Result :-) So much love for Canna hope to return.

Thank you so much Stuart and Julie for showing us around Tigh Mhor - the house once lived in by the eminent folklorists John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw. It's been preserved just as they left it - as if they just stepped out for a walk :-) Thank you for introducing us to Margaret's dog, Patchou!! We discovered him guarding our dressing room when we came up for the interval...

Thank you Winnie for doing our laundry and for the delicious fruitcake - you are an amazing lady :-) And of course, a huge, massive thank you to Colin and David for inviting us to perform on Canna. You've been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic since the very start, and it was a real pleasure. Hugs xxx

A few more Canna pics, just because they're so pretty. Thank you Mr. Eilbeck!

After two days and nights on Canna, where we performed and cooked and drank whisky and played games (heads down thumbs up, anyone?) and - in the absence of any street lights whatsoever - looked at more stars than we'd ever seen, we left utterly happy and, I think, a little changed by the serenity of that magical place. I remember we were all a little quieter on the journey back - so many great memories bedding down :-)

Monday, September 30th 2013

We crossed from Canna, via Rum (where we saw loads of deer sunbathing!) and back to Mallaig. From there we drove to Oban and stayed there for the night, after devouring some amazing seafood. On the Tuesday, we took the short ferry ride over to Mull, passing none other than 'THE MAIDEN'S ISLAND' on the way!! I was very excited to see the actual wee island which inspired the story, in some versions, which inspired me to write the play. Magic.

Mull Theatre is AWESOME! I hadn't imagined it would be so huge - a great big atmospheric black box space - and yet surprisingly intimate as the (raked) audience comes almost right up to the edge of the ground-level stage. I remember being so excited to do a lovely long warm-up in there - there's nothing quite like an empty theatre :-) When showtime came, Annie and I walked out to start the ceilidh, and the house was almost full - what a treat! So brilliant to see so many folk on Mull coming out to a play - and again, definitely some Gaelic speakers in the house, getting all the jokes quick-sharp. Lovely crowd to play for. Thank you to Sheena and all at the theatre for having us :-)

We stayed the night on Mull and travelled back to Oban the following day. We were all looking forward to being in our own beds for a night ahead of our Edinburgh show...

Thursday, October 3rd 2013

Hello Edinburgh!! By the time Thursday morning came, we'd sold out Traverse 1, and there was nothing for me to do except try to CHILL OUT before the, I was excited! Since we're an Edinburgh-based company, and began 'The Idiot at the Wall' with Edinburgh audiences, it was thrilling to be bringing this improved, developed version of the play back here. While we were all warming up and getting used to the space, Emily gave us some great advice, which was to bring all of the incredible magic of the past couple of weeks on the road to our audience here, on this big stage - to bring those sensory memories of the landscape and sea-crossings and kind Hebridean people here and share them. I think that's what we did, and we had a blast. The audience seemed to like it, too. What a night. Thank you to all at the Traverse, to all of you who came and showed so much love, and thank you Universe :-) 

On that note, I'm signing off. Talk soon my lovely fairy friends xxx

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