BENTWATER ROADS: The End of the Road
Monday morning. Hazel in Box office is taking down the Bentwater Roads posters, the technical crew are up at the Hush House striking the set, and I'm sitting at my desk wondering how 22 performances can slip by so quickly.
Bentwater Roads was a huge undertaking for us, but we've been thrilled at how well received it was. We've still got a lot of clearing up to do, but I wanted to just take this moment to say a huge thank you to our Eastern 'Angels' - our fantastic band of Fron of House volunteers, without whom we would be lost. SO proud of all of them. Also, our amazing new friends - the Ancient Briton Community Chorus - who have done a magnificent job. Another Thank You to the cast, crew and office staff who have done sterling work. Grateful Thanks to Prestige Bars, and all our suppliers and sponsors. And a big shout-out to Alex, who has surpassed all expectations with a blog of masterful proportions.
BENTWATER ROADS: Blogging Out
The very last day of Bentwater Roads and I raised myself from my earthy grave that I had dug out for myself in the confederate tent (a make shift changing room for the girls constructed by Roger with an enormous confederate flag waving in the wind attached to the back flap). I cleared the picnic area of broken glass, half empty bottles and rubbish and then went to work cleaning the kitchen as the perculator began to brew it's dark, life giving, potion.
Max and Silki appeared soon af erwards, Silki finding the only thing I hadn't cleared from the picnic area - a beautiful green cashmere john lewis jumper - I felt irrationally under-appreciated by the gods for my efforts at cleaning.
BENTWATER ROADS: Cider with Alex
The countdown has commenced. Four more performances and then oblivion. I wake up with my ankle still giving me a bit of a twinge so there is no way I'm risking aggravating it with a run, sadly that means no final jog round the park with my landlord Ivan.
Jon has organized a party for after the show tonight. There is going to be an enormous feast from the group that have been doing the grill and then a lot of drinking, music, dancing and some speeches. So I slink into Tesco on my way down to the theatre and buy myself a lot of cider or more aptly put, too much cider.
BENTWATER ROADS: Gone with the Wind
When your telephone rings at half 4 in the morning, the usual thoughts go through your head - the death of a loved-one, a major catastrophe, or an invasion from Outer Space at the very least. When my telephone went off, I staggered out of bed to be told that 50 mile-an-hour winds were, at that very moment, ripping our marquees apart up at the Rendlesham Airbase. We'd known it was going to be a windy night, and had spent most of the Wednesday evening preparing the marquees as best we could - even dragging large heavy pieces of metal over from the junk pile next to the Hush House and lashing them to the marquees. We were not however expecting what actually occured.
BENTWATER ROADS: How was my 'Actings'?
Up to the view of the sea and the sound of seagulls, we lay in bed for a long while then tidied up the hut and delivered the key back to the owners. Back to the beach we had cinnamon swirls and sangria for breakfast and built an enormous sand castle with a buttress, a keep and three outer walls encircling the main tower of an empty bottle of Sangria.
The rest of the day was a collection of train rides and I was very sad to leave Trina in London and carry on back to Ipswich. I arrive at 4pm and gathered some dinner/lunch from Tesco and headed to the Theatre. Penny told us that there had been a violent storm out at Bentwaters the night before and that the awning for the girls campervan had been torn to bits, the bar and grill tents had been buckled beyond repair, and that everything had been shaken up.
BENTWATER ROADS: All hail the Dungeon Master!
I arrived at our boat in London at 6:30am - it was very disorientating as Trina had turned the boat around to face the other way while I'd been away.
I sneaked very quietly around the boat setting up a little obstacle course for her to overcome for her presents. Then two hours later I slid into bed to give her a hug, sing happy birthday and wake her up.
I had set up an adventure (dungeons and dragons style: Trina recently found out that I had played it as a child and wa giving me a lot of playful grief about it, she even finally said she'd be keen to try it) where she was an elven princess on her quest to kill a dragon, she started in the forest of Bed'oom, killed 6 mud monsters crossing the swamps of Ki'Chin (popping brown ballons as she did), unwrapping her gifts as she exited the swamp she had new bath towels and a promised hip bath for the boat (I still haven't found one the right size) all this was to clean the mud of and restore her health, she also had two down three shots of magic potion (orange and gin shots).
BENTWATER ROADS: Race against time.
Up and out of bed for a jog around the park with Ivan. I think I'll try and keep the exercise up after the show ends but it will be sad not having Ivan's company. I showered and packed my bags for heading to London after the evening show. I have a train ticket for 10:42pm from Ipswich, the show tends to finish around 10pm so I should be lucky, Penny called and told me she found friends, Alan and David, who will be watching the show tonight who are happy to taxi me to the station. Flitting around town I got lunch and organized the last few items I would need for Trina's surprise on her birthday.
BENTWATER ROADS: Pagan Birthdays
Lucky for some. I walked Trina to the train station early in the morning so she could get to her job in London on time. After what I thought was a postcard perfect farewell, bar the yob walking pass and yelling ‘get a room', I walked somewhat maudlin back to my digs and fell to bed, a little sad.
Only at midday did I finally raise myself from a deep, deep slumber; with odd dreams about being hung from the cross beams of an old cabin. I blogged, ate, showered, emailed my friend Matt about the details for us going to stay with him and Denise in their rented apartment in Barcelona (such a hard life) and emailed Dee Evans to thank her for coming to see our show and apologizing for not recognizing her in the audience afterwards and saying hello.
BENTWATER ROADS: Pagan Recipe Book
Sweltering, that's the only word for it, sweltering. The tent was like a sauna with the thermometer turned up high. Parched and drunk on the heat I stumbled out of the tent where I'd had a rough night on the hard ground, feeling a mixture of achy tiredness and Ray Miers cockiness from doing such ‘manly' things.
Water, Tea and Coffee was drunk in abundance and then Silki suggested a swim at a nearby reservoir. With trunks on and still a little heat dazed we piled in Max's car h aded to this idealic spot, where a german bomb during world war one had created the ideal swimming hole.
BENTWATER ROADS: Carry on Camping
And I'm very excited at the thought Trina is getting ready to jump on a train and come see the show.
Ivan is sitting in the kitchen when I wake up and he wisely says it's too hot for a jog today. I naively go ahead and run twice around the park, almost loosing my entire body weight in sweat. A quick tidy of the bedroom where I'm staying and packing my ruck sack for an over night stay on location - I head into town and buy some rations for later on and get out some money just in case of an emergency.
BENTWATER ROADS: Down on the Farm.
Dragged myself around the park one time as the heat was intense and my legs were still feeling tired from the day before.
We congregated at the Theatre around midday and headed out to the farm where Pam is staying. I was in the back of Max's car and in next to no time I was completely lost. We made our way up a dirt road, with a herd of young bulls eyeing us over as we sped by and they continued lazily chewing cud around the pond.
Pam had been very busy and there was a assive spread, we had a lovely dip of smoked mackerel, crème fresh and garlic to begin with and then for a main there was a big leafy green salad, two different cold seafood pastas and a bowl of hot linguini with green beans, broad beans and peas in a cream, cracked black pepper and blue cheese sauce, delicious. Pam had also made two large trays of her fail safe lunch dish, a chicken curry bake, with mayonnaise of all things, condensed cream, curry powder, mushrooms and a dash of lemon. For pudding there were decadently sweet strawberries with cream, followed by home made lemon ice cream, made the night before by Pam.
BENTWATER ROADS: Game of Arrows, anyone?
A little late on the rise this morning meant Ivan (my landlord) had been already waiting for an hour to go for a jog together. We did our exercises in the secluded safety of the hedged front car park, worried that passers-by would find our stretches comical. We chatted as we ran and since we were mid conversation after the first lap of Christchurch Ivan kept running. When we parted company before my third lap Ivan had already run 6.6km (very impressive for a man of 77) I pushed on through to fin sh my 3rd lap and I estimate I had done 10km by the time I got back to my digs.
BENTWATER ROADS: Let there be light.
Begun my day feeling somewhat at odds with life. When I woke up it was raining and Ivan and I had planned to go for a jog together. He advised it wasn't the best weather for running and I thought it might be a little rude to insist.
So I had a very quiet morning sitting in my room writing my blog, after Ivan had told me stories about his deep sea diving days in the Navy and his encounter with an enormous eel 90 feet below the surface. Rosie and I tried to arrange what day was best f r her and Ivan and Bunty (Richard and Nadia's Landlady who lives next door) to come and see the show. Sunday the 18th in the afternoon was the verdict.
BENTWATER ROADS: Is there a Doctor in the house?
Did you know that today, July the 6th 2010 is the day that Marty McFly (read the lead character played by Michael J Fox in the 80's smash hit film Back to the Future) arrived in the future after hitting 88mph in his Delorean back in 1985 and sadly we don't even have flying cars or hoverboards to be pleased about!
That was an email I got from Trina today and my god did it make me feel old.
Anyways... can you guess how I started my day - yip, out of bed, into trainers and running gear and a round the park. Back to digs to write up the blog and search for something for my girlfriend's looming birthday on the internet.
BENTWATER ROADS: Beside the Seaside.
I woke late and called Trina after jogging about the park for half an hour. Then Pam called and invited me to join her a Zoran for a trip round Southwold. I threw my accumulated dirty washing into the machine, showered, blogged and hung the washing up, just finishing in time to jump in Pam's car and head away.
The weather was a lot cooler and the wind was somewhat stronger than the last few days but we had a pleasant walk and chat as we strolled up and down the pier and then along t e beach-front. We headed towards town asking for a place Peter had recommended called The Arches, when after asking the umpteenth local for directions to The Arches we got the umpteenth blank faced response, I thought it time to call Peter in case I had misheard or remembered incorrectly. Peter had not mentioned the name of the old coach Inn because he couldn't remember it himself and my memory had made up the name Arches because he had mentioned there was an Arch.
BENTWATER ROADS: Zoran with a Z
It has been a very long week, we've run the show 10 times in the space of 7 days, the heat and mugginess has been intense all week and opening night celebrations etc have lengthened the week that little bit more.
I was up nice and early, 8am, for a run around the park. Then I sat down to write the blog - I headed into town to do a little shopping, including a sports top to stop getting my own clothes and the costumes so sweaty between the runs as we ran about, some headphones to lis en to music on our way into Bentwaters on the bus.
BENTWATER ROADS: Getting our Groove on.
This is when things get a little more like work for us - not too much like work but a little. During the weekend when most people will be having a bbq, enjoying the park etc etc we'll be doing four performances of the show. The weather gods have decided to make this a challenge task as well by adding the extra factor of it being the hottest, muggiest weekend I can remember to date for this year and I'd venture to say the last four years (though then I fear treading into an ancient mariner style arrative ‘it were the day the sun sizzled your skin to leather and the air swam round your knees' - or something like that).
BENTWATER ROADS: Road Trip
First nights for a Front of House Manager are always tricky affairs. There is always so much to think about: Is the bar stocked, do we have enough programmes, is the ice cream freezer still working, will the volunteer Angels (and the audience!) find the venue, is the BBQ up and ready, is the auditorium clear of Tech Run debris, are the actors happy, is the car park filling up in the right way? Above all, are the audience happy, safe and entertained? On a show of this size, nothing can rea ly prepare you for that moment when cars begin to appear on the horizon, and you realise that after all the months of planning and preparation, this is it. The show has OPENED. By the end of a very long day, and an even longer week, I can say that everything worked as it should, and as the audience drove back over the base, headlights twinkling in the twilight, I could unfurrow my brow and breathe a sigh of post-First Night relief.
BENTWATER ROADS: Warming up, in more ways than one...
I (not surprisingly) woke too late to share in a morning jog with my 77 year old landlord Ivan Hamilton. He kindly left me asleep to recover from the night's celebrations. When I did finally rise it was already near midday and a swelteringly hot day at that. Rather foolishly I braved the midday sun (I must be a mad dog, since I'm sadly not English) with a long jog through the park to sweat ‘it' all out.
Then some quick finger taping for yesterdays blog and a trip into town for supplies and to recover my bike. Dementia seems to be creeping up on me, as I (very unusually for me) am forgetting my bag in all sorts of strange places. I found it the Sir John Mills Theatre then headed into town to buy a rugby ball - well there are about thirty of us between cast, crew and chorus.
BENTWATER ROADS: Another Opening, A Brand New Show.
The big day has arrived and in typical theatrical fashion we were all scribbling away madly in the morning writing good luck cards (actors are very superstitious as well as supportive - the cards never actually say good luck but say 'break a leg').
I headed into town and order a full English breakfast and sat down with my freshly purchased cards to start writing well wishes. With this cast and crew it was an easy task to find lovely things to say about working with them, highlights f their performance and utter belief that they will 'wow the audience'.