A Travellerspoint blog

day 6: all things must come to an end except for swampoodle

in which 31% of the swampoodle creative team gives ireland "da bluff" and we all agree to meet again in three months

semi-overcast 40 °F

As was to be expected due to our trip to town the previous night, Friday was the most difficult day to get up and out to rehearsal, though the adrenaline of the final rehearsal day took over. On my final morning walk through the mud to Castletown, I take some B&W photos, and after we begin, there's celebratory gifts for Marketa, who is leaving Performance Corporation after working hard for a year and a half. Over the week we've settled into a nice routine with the physical warmups, adding core and voice work along the way, and the balance (literally) brought by our final group warmup is needed. Though I must admit I will very much look forward to not having to do 60-second side plank positions until mid-April.


We’re brought outside and split into two groups, and told to stage pieces which use the substantial balcony-like entrance to the estate, as a way of connecting to the large bleachers sections of seats which we will eventually see in the Uline performance space. (And also that we should try to implement languages apart from English!) The first group sets the audience over by the pillars so that the entrance is viewed from the side and from a bit of distance, and we’re viewing a sort of political demonstration. MJ, Stacy, and Clare pretend to be led down the stairs in handcuffs, shouting and struggling, and they’re led away, while Rachel stays on the stairs and shouts in French. I love the clarity of the use of space to frame the drama.

Our scene begins with Chris, Karl, and I all balanced as statues on small circular road barriers which look out straight on from the entrance, while Adrienne sings a love song in Russian all the way at the door at the top of the entryway. Steph leads the audience into the space, while we three break our poses, run past them and break out into a raucous football match, hurdling into each other like bumper cars. Steph approaches with a large sign which happened to be there proclaiming “No football allowed!” which she screams out in Irish ("Cosc ar imirt peile!"). One by one the footballers see the figure singing on the balcony, Chris and Karl make their way to her, then proclaim “I love you!” in French and Irish, but she rebuffs both of them and they fall down the stairs. I approach with my “I love you” and she doesn’t resist, then we embrace at the top of the stairs. Steph comes back with the sign. It’s tough to convey the excitement and drama of some of these pieces via the written word, though I imagine the “anything goes” part is coming through?


We return indoors and Tom goes around with a video camera interviewing groups about what the week’s experience has meant to them, and about what they think the project will mean to audiences in DC. After lunch was our final exercise of the week. We’re put into three groups and given four slips of paper and an image from an art book to create our scene. The first group (MJ, Steph, and Rachel) stages a boxing match with a coach in the corner, and the boxers get tangled up. The second group moves us outside to the small parking lot and begins with Karl sitting in an office chair in the middle of the lot, drinking coffee, then Chris and Stacy approach on either side, singing “Hello my baby, hello my darling…” which evolves into Stacy leading a gospel meeting, and Karl notices none of this as he drinks his coffee. Chris and Stacy walk away, and get into a car which backs up and picks up Karl and his chair, though we’re blocked from seeing him get in. Brilliant and fun.

Our group is given the phrases “political rally,” “parking lot,“ “When will we ever learn?” and “How does this end?, and the image is of a giant piñata made of colorful flowers, shaped like a bear, and like Godzilla, is holding a woman in his jaw who is bleeding red rose petals. Our piece stays outside and splits the audience into two groups, and is staged inside a car in which Clare is a Washington tour guide with a phony American accent, slowly driving people past vignettes that Adrienne and I create. To implement a level of implied discrimination (which the Uline was certainly known for), she first allows any white American men in, telling anyone else they can go in the second run. The car drives past the "Lincoln Memorial," which reveals me sitting like the statue on a tree trunk, then Adrienne becomes Booth shooting Lincoln, I throw blue shoe covers in the air (meant to indicate flowers) and she screams “Sic semper tyrannis!” in front of the slowly moving car. Clare’s narration in the car, however, is all positive and cheery and represents a story which runs opposite to what we’re acting out outside, as a sort of rewriting of historical events. The car wheels around a circle and passes by the estate, and as it reaches a break between the trees, Adrienne and I run out as Vietnam-era protesters, yelling and spitting on the politicians in the car, and she stops me from shooting, and we toss more blue show covers on the dashboard. We sprint to our next location, staged behind a sign emblazoned with what appears to be a singing voice and a rigid hand proclaiming “stop!” (I think it was telling car drivers to not drive into this area?) As Clare drives the passengers toward us, I am Paul Robeson (who sang at the Uline) singing “Old Man River” with a blue shoe cover/flower in my lapel while Adrienne puts out her hand and tries to stop the concert. Finally, as Clare diverts attention in the car (hopefully?), we make a mad dash to Collette’s car which we have parked close to the lot facing out, and as Clare pulls her car nose-to-nose up to our car, we have a tender moment and I give Adrienne a flower. Then we repeat all of the above for the second carload. I have no idea what any of that looked or felt like to people in the car, but it was exhausting and thrilling to do all that running around, and it’s a nice way to go out.

We go back to the table room and hammer out locked-in rehearsal schedules for April and May, then sit for at least an hour talking about the week and moments that stuck out. I open my blog and it’s nice to be able to give an exact sequence of exercises. I offer that I think the pieces that worked the best were the ones with the clearest and simplest structure, things whose concept could be explained in a few words, rather than lots and lots of ideas thrown in. Everyone has something interesting to say and though all have a different perspective on the process, we agree on certain images which stick out from the week. We wrap up and collect our things, say goodbye to the rehearsal room and carve out a plan for the evening, some of us scrambling to find travel arrangements all the while.

I trudge back through the dark field for a final time, taking some shots of the gorgeous moon encircled by light, get home and clean and pack and cook some food, and call home for a few minutes.


MJ and I walk/run to the bus stop where we will meet the others who have already gotten on in Celbridge, and we will all head into Dublin for a last hurrah; this time with no worries about the next morning!


We get off at Merrian Square and walk to O'Donaghue's, a packed pub in which we nudge our way through the crowds and music in the front room past at least three other rooms to a relatively unoccupied room which we claim as our own for the next hour or so. Round of Guinness are floating around and Collette and I trade my camera back and forth; at one point I even pull out my emergency point-and-shoot camera, which I used on my trip two years ago. Suffice to say that between all of us, everyone will have loads and loads of shots to remember this week by. At one point I go to hear the musicians in the front room, and I realize that with the shots of The Dubliners on the wall, I am standing in the pub where this band became famous; I raise my pint to Luke Kelly on the wall and I really want to sing Raglan Road. I had sung the first verse for the group previously as an exercise, as Jo had us go around and each sing a song individually, though I don’t remember exactly when that happened.


The group decides to follow the craic to the next pub, however, and they make the 10-minute walk through the rain to Peter's Pub, where we sit and have drinks and sandwiches and Collette and I have a photo competition to see who can come up with the most compelling shot on one try. (I think its still tied but we will pick up in America.) Note to self: Jo absolutely adores having her photo taken.


We close down this pub and find ourselves outside what looks like an apartment complex but is actually a sort of speakeasy/nightclub, and we climb the stairs passing a number of dance floors, on one of which enter, crash a wedding reception, and begin disco dancing! After skipping floors and much dancing, we end up seated in chairs and sofas on the top floor.


At around 3am, we make our way across a few blocks and pick up a large van-taxi in front of Trinity College (one of the few areas I recognize from my last trip to Dublin), and though the driver is only allowed to take 8, all ten of us pile in and two people lose their heads until we get out of the city. We’re dropped off (the taxi was a great deal) and I catch only a few hours of sleep beginning at around 4:00am. This week definitely finished up with a bang, and though it’s sad to say goodbye to people, we all know we’ll be picking up where we left off in three months time.

PS - I've loads pictures to accompany this entry but will hold off until I have time and net access. Am leaving my hotspot in Greystones to have Peter drive me to Bray where I will catch a train to Dublin. In Dublin tonight, in addition to meeting up with a possibly distant cousin and her husband, two words will provide guidance: GO PATS!!!

PPS - Photos are up. And with two days hindsight, I think I may have jinxed my team.

Posted by coolmcjazz 08:14 Archived in Ireland Tagged theater kildare

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


I loved your group's piece, Jason! Was a pleasure knowing you all. M

by Marketa

Thanks for all your hard work in getting us together, Marketa! We couldn't have had this successful, thrillingly creative week without you. Tell Jim at Fishamble that DC misses him and best of luck to you in your new venture. Hope to cross paths again!

by coolmcjazz

thanks for sharing your gift for words, photography and WHIMSY ! you are a PRINCE mr. macool! love adrienne and the rest of the craic-hoors

by adrienne

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.