Written by Julian Lopez-Morillas   
Saturday, 04 August 2012 09:05

We have two days of previews behind us now, and “open” today, though the distinction is academic. There will be no big-whoop gala with critics in attendance, loyal friends and drinks after, but we can hope for a better turnout than yesterday (four people in the audience) and a working light board—one of the interns accidentally wiped all our cues off the computer board and Michael had to wing it in performance. He did fine—there is not a lot of sophistication in the basic set-up in the tiny studio and we are only allowed eight instruments—but it was a relief later in the evening when we were told the show plot had somehow been retrieved. That at least saves Michael from having to go over there this morning and reconstruct it.

I'm quite happy how the show itself is progressing, as I become more comfortable through repetition; remember, I have never performed the show two days in a row before! I’m finding the emotions around the Elizabeth letters and the account of her death still very accessible, though I would expect that to diminish with regular repetition, and I’m feeling more and more freedom to relax into set pieces (“My Last Duchess”, “Pied Piper”) and play around with them a little.

We’re beginning to get out now and see some other shows. Jannie will do some “guest” blog entries to talk about what she is seeing; Michael, Jeffra and I started yesterday with two other events on the calendar of Universal Arts, our own producers. The Boat Factory is a two-man show about a couple of workmen in Belfast’s now-moribund shipbuilding industry (a long comedown from the glory days when they built the Titanic), performed in thick Northern Ireland brogues by two very capable actors. Then we saw a late-night performance of the Polish Teatr Biuro Podrozy doing their version of Macbeth, a one-hour synthesis with only scraps of Shakespeare’s text but heavy on symbolic action, with a nightmare scenario of brutality and ambition. This was performed in the open at the Old College Quad with effective use of fire—lots of it!—roaring motorcycles, a thudding synthesized score with an operatic intensity, nudity and some remarkable stilt-walking skills: the witches are black-hooded, white-masked, gaunt figures ten feet tall, striding around with great agility. The carbon monoxide factor was a little high—it struck me that combustion might be the single term that would best characterize the spectacle—but we liked its energy, intensity and recklessness.

We also connected with my dear friend Michael McShane, who is here doing a script of his own (as well as his usual improvisation and standup) and welcomed us warmly. He has secured us passes to the Pleasance, one of the major Festival producers, which will entitle us to walk-in privileges to most of their shows.

Enough for now!