(This was written on Saturday 16th June)
What a joyous day. The first joyous thing was that I didn't get out of bed until 11am. Having a young daughter at home, this opportunity was beyond description. Only surmounted by by discovery at the other end of the day that my train in the morning was at 5:45.
Anyway after a slow start to the day we ....
Let me take a moment to talk about the we. This comprised of Philip and Brian, the founders of Parrabbola. Eva , a dramaturge and Czech native that would provide a lot of translation, Amy the stage manager, Lucy, who has the unenviable task of making costumes for a cast of over 40 people. Ionut, an actor from Romania, Becka, a Czech speaking actor of American origin. There are also 3 old friends from Poland who are acting in this show including Pavel, an award winning film maker who will be documenting the process. You can see his short documentary on our last production in Poland here -
So we trudged of to Cooltour, an amazing multidisciplinary contemporary arts centre complete with canteen, artistic installations and performance spaces. It was to my amusement next to the auspiciously named Club Marley!!!
What followed was a wonderful 4 hours which for me exemplifies the joy of community theatre. The cast was a group of 40 random people, the majority being young Czech girls ( I'll say no more) but also including a small number of English and American ex pats. I should note that 2 of is number were black which surprised me somewhat because I am used to being fairly alone in this respect in these countries. Ages ranged vastly and experience even more so. How to forge this group into a working cohesive whole. A fantastic challenge of joy and pain.
We played games, you know the kind. The ones that are designed to make you feel a bit stupid but allow you to just deal with it. Designed to help you become spatially and socially aware. My favourite of the day was one where the group had to silently construct 3D shapes. As I helped run this session I got the ability to torment these people by suggesting shapes such as a rocket and launch pad. One thing I didn't expect was that when given the task of making a shape of a dog wagging its tail that they were going to add another appendage that wasn't a leg!!
From there we moved outside where Philip painfully taught us the first steps of the dance that will be part of the production. Finally with the arrival of Hannah ( English actor) and Matt the musical director we moved into a song time which would allow Matt to get the feel of peoples voices. Once again I got the beautiful opportunity to torment the cast by forcing them to do various physical challenges of rhyme and movement whilst singing a 3 part harmony. You can hear a sample of the cast singing here -
And this is where the joy comes in. Watching something beautiful and unexpected start to coalesce from a group that have no idea what they can produce.
Here's a short interview with Marek, a Czech guy I worked with earlier in the day. This is the 1st of a number of short interviews I intend to do with the cast and crew.
After rehearsals we went to the pub, of course where I ordered a meal called Moravian sparrow. Why it was called this is beyond me as it turned out to be 4 small off cuts of pork on a bed of stewed cabbage ( nicer than it sounds) with what the menu said were dumplings but seemed more like sponge cake to me.
There was much drinking, laughing and chatting then we moved on to another pub before retiring home to drink and laugh some more. At 2am I decided to call it a night and threw everyone out of my room. I'm heading back to England in the morning and as I said its a 5:45 train.
All in all this has been a great 1st fathers day for me albeit without my family around but also a fantastic beginning to this project. As I sit on the train finishing this post I can't help but have a smidgeon of jealousy for those that are staying behind. When I return in a week I believe that this group will have changed beyond recognition and I'm excited to see what that shape is.