Yes – it might be early in 2013 but White has already been back on the road, and once again we have been in France – in lovely Lille this time. We have been performing at Le Grand Bleu for the last week, a dedicated space for young audiences and have had a great time, thanks to the amazing staff at the theatre.
The show has gone down really well and, though this time we have performed it in English, the audiences have given us some lovely comments. A woman stayed behind yesterday to tell us that it was a such a pleasure to share something so special with her child – not surprisingly we thought she was tremendous.
Yesterday we had a bit of time for some sightseeing so we went on a bus trip round the city and took in the sights. It really is a beautiful city. A great mixture of old and new with a bit of Dutch and Belgian influence thrown in as well. In true French style we have been treated to some delicious food on our various night time excursions. And we have been suitably impressed at the culinary efforts that the staff brought for their lunches, in the theatre kitchen – though sugar in the yogurt was a new one on us. Sadly we only managed to assemble a cheese and ham baguette each lunchtime.
We even shared an aperitif on our last night at the hotel, courtesy of Dominic the hotel receptionist in the lobby. Think more Best Western lobby than the Savoy but it was a lovely continuation of the friendly Lille hospitality we have experienced while we have been here.
We are now en route to Denmark where we will be touring the country for the next 3 weeks. At the start of our journey Wrinkle has managed to sleep through a whole country – I’m sure it was no comment on what Belgium has to offer. Suzie and myself were suitably alert throughout.
So it’s an Au revoir France and Hej Denmark
This picture was drawn by our suprememly talented Ian Cameron (Wrinkle) it’s a snow-covered image of the port as we left Dover.
Tales of Norge 3
So, here I am on a plane leaving Alesund and my Norwegian adventure is drawing to a close. I have had an amazing month here and have been made to feel very welcome by everyone at the theatre and their friends. I am sad to be leaving. Also for the last few days we have had the most amazing sunshine and I had the chance to get about in the beautiful countryside surrounding the city - it’s astonishing. We went to Trollstigen about 3 hours away from Alesund and admired the incredible view which has been enhanced by a beautifully designed visitors centre. A really brave piece of architecture that really suits the dramatic landscape.
Hvit opened on Saturday and the show couldn’t have been received any better. The audience loved it. Everyone at the parent theatre in Molde loved it too. Jonas and John were great and the show has been given two glowing reviews. In Norway instead of stars they give numbers, like the sides of a dice and both reviewers gave the show 6’s - hoorah!
The group of teenage girls that regularly come to the theatre, otherwise known as ‘Eva’s girls’, did an amazing job of decorating the foyer space before and after the show. As the audience walked into the building they were met with white objects everywhere and by the girls dressed in white with platters of white food. When the children came down again the foyer had been transformed. The girls, now dressed in colour, helped the children to open white eggs inside which were coloured crayons and the children happily drew on the huge banquet table that had been set up for them. It was a total delight.
On my final night in Alesund we had a meal together at Eva’s house. It was lovely. Eva has discovered Jamie Oliver so I was treated to a british dish of Shepherds pie by my norwegian host. I have had a brilliant time here and it was great last night to realize that i have made new friends here in Norway and to all of them i would like to say Tusen takk.
Tales of Norge 2
Okay - so I have been here for 3 weeks now and I’m settling well into my temporary life in Norway. I have my breakfast from my kitchen table overlooking the mountains and the fjord. Walk the 5 minutes into work alongside said fjord. Past the bric-a-brac shop, that is rarely open but has a dazzling array of old shite and a woman with very big hands... Across the bridge where I look down at the water and everyday marvel at how clear it is. And then finally into the Arbeideren which is the beautiful Art Nouveau theatre where we are working. Actually most of the centre of Alesund is Art Nouveau after it was destroyed by a fire in 1904 - history as well as updates eh?
The rehearsals are going really well and John and Jonas appear to be enjoying the challenges of the world of Hvit. They have even started to look relaxed in the egg catching section! Jonas is still struggling with his knitting though (see below).Shona and Craig come out this week to light and finish the set. Shona is adding a few norwegian touches to some of the houses - so we have assembled a small collection of norwegian items to be auditioned.
My norwegian is not really improving, although certain words, mostly colours, are creeping into my brain. There aren’t many occasions when you need to say “It’s a red egg” or “Wrinkle. Time to wake up” but I still try and pepper my conversation liberally with them just so I feel like a local.
On thursday night I optimistically decided to test my language comprehension by going to see a stand up. Unfortunately the entire show was in norwegian and I was sitting in the front row. I don’t think i’ve ever been so terrified of being picked on and having to explain I didn’t understand a word. Fortunately, I escaped unscathed. It is quite weird though fake laughing and clapping for an hour and a quarter.
Afterwards we went to Teaterfabrikken which is a regular weekly event for everyone at the theatre. Astrid, who is also an actor and whose place it is, opens it up to theatre friends and we have a few beers. We take over a section of it’s three vast subterranean rooms and enjoy the atmosphere of this former cod liver oil factory, but think old, very old and really wooden - like being in the bowels of a ship with a lot of sofas.
Oh...The other day I had my most expensive meal - a take away soup for lunch which cost me £14! It has to be said it was a very good cauliflower soup with truffle oil but still...
I sipped it slowly and pretended it was a steak, which made me feel slightly better.
Right. That’s it for now. Look in again for the next Tales of Norge.
Norway? Yes it’s true, here I am directing the Norwegian version of White or Hvit as it is now known. I have been here in Alesund for about a week now and I am settling in rather well. Shona and Craig came out to oversee the set and production and will return again in the final week. Everyone has been very welcoming and I kind of feel like I’m in my own version of the Shipping News - finding out the local gossip and goings on. Though, as Roy the technician at the theatre pointed out, I am now likely to be part of that gossip. In fact by Thursday we had a full page spread in the local paper, accompanied by a picture of Shona and I rather seriously inspecting bird-boxes.
We have been brought over by Eva, the producer at Barneteatret Vart who is the person most fittingly described as irrepressible. I have also never known a mobile ring or beep so often. She takes a swim most days in the sea with her friend Endra, I have been invited to attend so I suspect a fjord dip is likely some point soon.
The two actors, Jonas and John, are great and playing the respective parts of Bomull and Rynke. We all seem to be enjoying rehearsals and are currently competing in the tricky olympic sport of egg catching. We are still in training. At the same time...yes we can multitask, we are trying to work out a local equivalent of the word play Wrinkle/ Pinkle, any Norwegians reading.... all word plays gratefully received.
Alesund itself is unbelievably beautiful. It’s actually a series of islands in amongst the fjords. It is a regular stopping point for many of the cruise ships and about 5 o’clock most days you hear the ships horn, as it pulls up anchor and sets sail again. On Saturday I scaled the local viewpoint with a well placed coffee shop at the top and took the pictures below - nice eh? I opted for a coffee and a svele (literally means swell) a kind of sugar filled pancake. I do struggle with the scandinavian cost of food, it seems incredible that a salad can be 15 quid but there it is. Maybe there is a norwegian black market using lettuce as currency?
Anyway, otherwise all is very good and I am enjoying working in and exploring this beautiful part of the world. That’s it for now. Look in again for the next Tales of Norge!
It's nice to see that White still has a place in the billboards outside the New Victory Theater. We had such a great time there.
A great review in todays Herald. Sophie Kindreich says
"The themes will resonate regardless of your age, striking a chord with children experiencing the same thing, or evoking bitter memories for those whose past is tainted with childhood betrayal."
Pondlife has had another 5* review - this time from Fest. Yasmin Sulaiman says
" no matter what age you are, it’s emotional, uplifting and completely unforgettable."
Read the full review here
Another lovely review for Pondlife in The Metro today calls the show an "enchanting coming of age tale" ****
White has been nominated for a Helpmann Award in Sydney. It is nominated for Best Presentation for Children. We are thrilled. The awards will be held at the Sydney Opera House where White played for a week as part of a six week tour of Australia and New Zealand. The awards are on September 24th.