A Travellerspoint blog

Ireland

Day 1: Bhliain Nua Sásta from Dublin!

in which your author and his travel companion land and breath in the delicious smell of irish peat!

semi-overcast 45 °F

Forgive me, dearest travel blog, for it has been one year, ten months, and thirteen days (?) since last we spoke, exiting Amsterdam and my favorite top floor Dutch haunt on a layover after a too-brief Scottish adventure. This distance, for the record, is far too long – though I am pleased my streak of annual Europe visits was kept intact by the auld skin of its teeth as I landed in Dublin on the final day of 2013. (Dublin counts as part of Europe, yes? Yes.) This is my third trip to Ireland – other stops occurring in August, 2008, and in January, 2011, and I’m just so jazzed to show it off to my brother (his first trip – see below for his fancy packing maneuvers) and friends.

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I write from sullen, seaside Cork – the entirely of Ireland seems asleep today after the shenanigans of last night – where my traveling companion, the hearty Miss Amy Morse and I have safely landed after driving about 3.5 hours in an exceedingly safe manner in our black, stoutish rental car (perhaps we shall name him Murphy?) which must be driven on the wrong side of the road, by a driver perched on the wrong side of the car. I’m actually quite ill, having picked up a nasty, brutish bug from my brother Dan as he drove me to JFK Airport in New York on Sunday, me crowing at him “Don’t worry; I never get sick.” He and his friend Graci – yet to be met by your blogger but already a riot in the tone of her Facebook posts – arrive in Dublin tomorrow, and we will drive back up to meet them on Friday.

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Last night was my first New Years outside of the country, not to mention the first New Years in which I actually celebrated twice – once at Midnight in Dublin, and five hours later, watching the tweets flood in over Twitter from the side of my bed. (Glad you made it to 2014 in one place, friends.) New Years has for a long time been an important holiday for me, dating back to reunions with music camp friends in high school, and I’ve always celebrated the fact that it’s the one day of the year when you can greet strangers on the street with wishes of happiness and not get odd stares.

We arrived yesterday even earlier than our scheduled time of 5:10am, grabbed a coffee – Irish but not that Irish – and experienced our first mini-crisis when I walked outside and realized I didn’t have my favorite long blue scarf to guard against the impending and persistent Irish bluster. Is it on the plane? Does it have a new owner? Did I leave it in my brother’s car? Time will tell.

Two friendly chaps helped us get on the correct bus and we eventually made our way over to Drumcondra, a gritty, high-character (in more ways than one) area in North Dublin. Our lovely Airbnb host Laura was exceedingly welcoming and pleasant, and we chatted excitedly about the trip and other topics including, naturally, the Pope. Amy fell fast asleep.

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Day 1 of her self-pledge to “run every day” commencing, Amy explored the neighborhood while I conked out for only an hour or so, my internal time clock wondering what day, year, or century it was.

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We began our journey into Dublin City Centre, in search of New Years craic, around 17:00, and decided to pop into a pub about two blocks down Drumcondra (?) Road called The Auld Triangle.

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Laura later explained to us that the name came from the triangle which would be rung at the old Mountjoy prison not far from where we were. The depictions of IRA hero Bobby Sands (whose hunger strike I saw depicted in excruciating detail in this amazing film) on the outside of the pub made me guess this would be sort of charged spot, and that was realized when our instant friend Paul spoke extensively about current Irish politics and immigration., and we took in the décor, festooned with political slogans and remembrances of athletic triumphs. I only heard about 60% of what Paul, a soft but incessant talker, said. Ruddy, odd-faced men with wrinkled sandpaper faces stared up at the ceiling, wearily waiting for who knows what? Odd-faced men, straight out of Beckett But men! “Up Where We Belong” played on the jukebox.

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We have our first Irish Guinness and Paul buys us both another, slightly extending the desired length of our drop-in, and when we leave, he extends to Amy what would soon call “an extended remix hug.”

We continue on the path toward downtown, dropping into a few pubs to use their facilities, running into a man from Arlington, MA who gives us lengthy directions. We stop into another pub for a quick pint and talk about dreams and relationships. Amy says “Nobody writes in a bathroom stall, for a good time, have children.”

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We arrive at bustling Temple Bar and put our names in at a busy brewpub with many floors, playing “Freebird” and feeling a bit college for our tastes. By this time we’re both quite hungry and are graced with some terrific pizza slices across the street.

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We make it back to the brewpub and are seated on in a tight enclave amidst revelers and frantic waitresses. A band starts to play familiar American pop songs, and though they are somewhat competent musicians they seem to have all the originality of a stack of Manila file folders. People barely clap. “Maybe They’ll Take a Break?” Our food is not terribly good. The waitress tries to get away with taking 50 Euro on a 24 Euro check (“Are you sure?!” she asks, holding my change in a tin, and I respond, “Yes, I’m sure… that that’s my change." “Are you sure?!” she exclaims again, continuing to hold the tin and perhaps hoping I was too intoxicated (I wasn’t) to catch the mistake of leaving a 1000% tip on service we barely experienced. Grumble. I get my change, leave a far more reasonable tip, and we amble down to the street, having experienced perhaps our first mild letdown. Amy says “I wonder where the grownups are?”

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We walk the streets of Dublin, wading through crowds of revelers and as I take a selfie outside the famous Temple Bar, a group of teenagers jump in.

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I recognize a dance hall once billed to me as “The most authentic musical experience in Dublin,” and recognize the plastered smile and cruise ship atmosphere from the window. We end up in another large brew hall, this one with almost equally bad music (a balding chap manning professional DJ equipment and halfheartedly karaoke-ing himself through another set of too-familiar songs. No one pays him any attention. I’m starting to crash and can’t even finish my beer.

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We walk on, considering where we should spend midnight, approaching in about fifty minutes, and after passing a pub I immediately circle back saying, “no, this place.” We get in and order a pint and it suddenly dawns on me that I’m in the same locale where my favorite Facebook profile photo was taken in January, 2011, after the Swampoodle development week. I’m instantly in a better mood, and the vibe is relaxed and cheerful. We attempt to recreate the photo although the lighting is a bit off given that I’ve (smartly) left my good camera back at Laura’s and use my iPhone instead.

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At about ten minutes to the hour we find ourselves in a much more raucous pub with a solo singer-guitarist leading the crowd in cheers and songs. Everyone is friendly and most in the young crowd are cheerfully half in the bag. “They’ve come all the way from America!” “Mary Mack, she had bones like razor blades!” “Bada bing bada bing. Pavarotti!” “Bottle of vodka – f*ck the neighbors!” “Goodnight everybody. Take care of each other – that’s all that maters.” Here's some video:

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We stick around making grown-up talk with a friendly couple from Belfast – a public relations expert curious about Twitter, and her motorcycle photographer boyfriend, who once took pictures for a play by Owen McCafferty, author of Scenes from the Big Picture. I give her my card and we do hope they’ll be in touch to show us around Belfast where all four of us will be on Saturday.

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We say our goodbyes outside to the hyper-friendly young folks from Belgium and Brazil, and after grabbing some delicious, spicy Middle Eastern food to go from a jam packed café, we manage to hail a cab. The cab driver isn’t quite sure where our place is and drops us off a good twenty minute walk away, it’s nice to smell the peat in the air and spend the first hours of 2014 walking briskly and collapsing into a heap.

Amy has returned from her second run, this one through dark Cork at 11pm, and comments on my pages of writing: “You seem to have some great content there. Did you capture the way the city streets gleam because of the way the street lamps glisten?” No, but thanks for the verbiage. Great artists don’t borrow, they steal.

Posted by coolmcjazz 03:43 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin newyearseve Comments (0)

day 8: alas, a last day in ireland

in which your author can't stop meeting wonderful people

semi-overcast 40 °F

Phew. Lots to catch up on from the past few days, friends! I write from a comfy seat on a train bound from lovely Toulouse to Barcelona, but I’ll have to backtrack to all the way back to Greystones, Ireland to cover all things.

After some morning writing, a nice breakfast, and conversation with Peter and Moira, I begin to plan out my next move. Tony, Peter and Moira’s friend who I remember from the Biden-announcement visit, stops by to drop off a rugby jersey, and he tells me that if I want to make quick friends in Toulouse, I should buy a t-shirt proclaiming “I love rugby!” I walk into “downtown” Greystones, right on the water, and find a cute hotspot café with friendly people to write and plot out my next few days.

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The previous day I had left a phone message for my possible distant cousin Anita and her husband Michael, who live in Dublin, about a visit. On my 2008 trip, my ex and I had gotten desperately lost trying to find their home, and had to settle for a nice meal with Michael in town, so I’d never actually met Anita. While at the café, I get a return call from her, and they invite me over for dinner. I venture into town and buy a bottle of wine in gratitude for Peter and Moira’s warm hospitality. The bottle is from the Languedoc region of France, close to where I’m headed; it's one I’d seen in New Hampshire last summer, when I expected to be traveling to France, rather than where I actually went. Also, note the photo of the Obama book mentioned previously; fun to see it again, as when it was given in August of 2008, Obama's candidacy was a dire wish! If we only knew then what we know now, right? Although truth be told, the record of accomplishments is quite impressive.

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Peter is going to drive me to the Bray station, and on the way I phone Anita to find out if its possible to stay the night with them; she kindly obliges. I say my goodbyes to these lovely people (and dogs!) with hopes of seeing them again another time, and Peter drops me at the station for the next leg of my trip.

I spend some time writing on the train, and when my stop comes up, I’m caught off guard; upon pushing the button the door doesn’t open and I have to go one stop further. Not the sort of mistake an experienced traveler should make, especially one who is trying to save time to make it out to his Patriots vs. Jets playoff game at 9:30pm! Michael picks me up at the alternate station, and after catching up on the ride, tells me that due to a slightly overcrowded house at the moment, they’ve booked me into a hotel?! He refuses to let me pay for the room, and its just one more example of the overextended hospitality so many people have displayed to me in this fine country. I drop off my things and we head to his house, located in the Ranelagh area. It’s nice to be at a place where I had intended to be at during my last trip, and Anita is a wonderful host. They have three darling children, all under the age of ten, and I let them take photographs with my camera, a few of which came out quite nice! (There may be some budding young photographers in this family?) Also, Anita’s father Nile is visiting, and he’s the picture of a warm Irish chap, telling stories of his trip to America. After a terrific meal the four of us sit around the table and carry on a wide-ranging conversation touching on Catholicism, economics, and American politics, and as with Peter and Moira I’m impressed by how well versed in American political dramas the Irish seem to be. (And they seem as perplexed about Sarah Palin’s popularity as most Americans are!) It’s another warm visit with interesting, smart people, and I’m glad to have made the connection with Anita finally, even with the last-minute timing. Some day I’ll try again piece together whether there’s an actual family connection, which dates back to an address label circa 1930!

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Michael takes me to my hotel, quite posh and conveniently located for the morning shuttle to the airport, and I prep for another early morning with not much sleep by writing and not watching this movie which is on. With the flow of conversation I never made it out to watch the playoff game, and I’m rather devastated to hear that to punish me for this, my Patriots have chosen to not show up. (Spring training starts when, Red Sox? Though I'm told my roommate may still be having a party on February 6. Some sporting event is taking place?)

Anyway, sadly, I’ve wrapped up my second visit to Ireland but I'm excited to get back in solo traveler mode and I look forward to my next trip to the auld sod… who knows when?

Posted by coolmcjazz 08:27 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

the ballad of the stinking rucksack tosser

in which your author encounters someone not so nice in ireland

semi-overcast 40 °F

I write from the back of a train headed back from Greystones to Dublin, figuring this would be a good spot to put together the story of Saturday’s escapade on the train, which I alluded to in my last entry. Buckle your seat belts, folks.

Jo and Tom kindly dropped me at the Leixlip station (leaving them with a copy of this CD for their troubles), and I waited about twenty minutes in the light drizzle, catching a breath and aware of my newfound solitary-ness after the long week surrounded by vibrant and creative people. I get on the train, maybe 40% occupied, and nestle into a double corner seat, my backpack on the right seat, myself, my laptop bag, my camera bag, and a trash bag containing two pairs of wet jeans all wedged in underneath and around me. I’m tired and have about a 30 minute ride before transferring at Connolly Station to catch a train to Greystones, so I make like an experienced traveler and hook an arm around my backpack, laptop, and camera straps, dial up a nice Mozart Piano Concerto on my iPod, and settle in.

About five minutes into my slumber, I’m awakened by a tug on my backpack. A ruddy and swollen-faced man, maybe early 30s (going on 50) has taken my backpack off the seat and dropped it in the center of the aisle. He plops himself down on the adjacent seat, wedging me into the corner, without acknowledging the backpack maneuver. Well… THAT’S odd, I sleepily think, a bit confused as to why this is necessary when there appear to be plenty of open seats. He begins talking with the two people across the aisle from him, so I figure he’s a friend of theirs and wanted to sit next to them. He asks me in a thick, slurred brogue “Is dis yerr bag herre?” Bit of a dumb question, but I nod yeah, and he hoists it up to the storage space above. What a kind fellow. He lands back down in the seat, and I'm assaulted by the unmistakably strong scent of liquor and cheap cologne. My camera bag is stuffed behind me, which with an extra seat wasn’t uncomfortable, but with Stinks of Liquor Man now taking up the extra space has become very cramped. After about two minutes of sitting there wedged in uncomfortably, I see an open double seat across the way and decide to get up and move, giving up my seat and letting Stinks of Liquor Man carry on with his friends. I calmly say, “Sorry, I’m just gonna move to that seat over there, man.” He lets me out, and I move across to the corner of the train car. No big deal, right?

Well… apparently this was a big deal to SOL Man, who takes my motions verrrry personally and within a minute starts passively complaining to everyone in the immediate area. There’s an elderly couple sitting in front of me. He approaches the man, extends a crooked hand and blathers “You peoples arr nice… but this guy (points to me)… nooobody likes him.” There are about ten people in our area. No one says anything. He sits and continues, sending his voice to me: “Was aye not good enouff to sit wid, man?” At first I ignore him, not wanting to give him reason to continue. He keeps asking, and people are starting to get really uncomfortable. I finally respond calmly: “No, man, I have long legs, I just wanted to have enough room.” He gets up and approaches me in my corner: “Ohhhh… Am I not good enough to sit witch, man? Issere somethan the mather with mee?” He’s building up steam. He stands up and points to my bag in the storage space above. “Is this herre yer rucksack?” “Yeah.” He pulls it down and violently chucks it at me full on from three aisles away. I catch it. He’s comes up to me quickly, now very close, standing, and I’m cornered in my seat. For a few seconds I’m convinced he’s about to take a swing at me, and my brain is firing on all cylinders planning what to do.

Somehow… THANK GOD… he doesn’t swing. Backing off, he devises a new tactic: “How boutchu come back over herr an sitch wid me again. Comon man.” At this point I stand up; though he looks a practiced brawler, I’m bigger than he is and try to convey to him the sense that although I’m not going to engage, I’m also not going to make the easiest target to pick a fight with. I stand there at the end of the train car in a bit of a faceoff, me at my seat, him maybe ten feet away at his, and consider announcing “If anyone has any advice for me in this situation, I’d love to hear it.” Everybody squirms in their seat but all are stonefaced. “Comon man, I’m nauhtthat bad a guyee. Come sit wit me here.” I respond gently, but firmly, “Tell ya what, man. I am just going to… Stand. Right. Here.”

He sits down and I make my move, swiftly passing him for the opposite end of the train, trying to create some distance, but I’m carrying four bags so I’m not the most graceful sight. Not surprisingly, he gets up and lumbers after me. Mind you, the train is moving and there’s no place to go. The people on the opposite end of the train surely have been watching with interest, and seem not terribly excited that the action is now coming their way. I position myself behind a pole, so that if he takes a swing he’d have to get it past a bit of metal as well. He approaches and puts out his left hand to shake mine; I keep the pole between his right hand and my body.

“Whididye have to get upp an embarrass me like dat in fronn of me mates like dat, man? I’m not a bad guyee, I’m not.” “No, no, not at all, you seem great (lying); I just wanted some space for my legs.” “But eyy jus had a few pints for me brotherr’s burrthday last night ya know.” He's retreating on his anger a bit. I’m talking him down. “Oh yeah, did you have a good time?” “O yah it was grand. But can ye come over therr and tell me mates dat I’m not a bad guyee, can ye?” I sense the train is about to make a stop. “No, I’m getting off here, man, have a nice day, cheers.” I run outside the train and make a mad dash to get on the next car before the train moves again. I push the button, get on, and walk to the opposite end facing my original car so that in case SOL Man decides to cross in between I can see him coming.

At the next stop a horde of people get on coming from a rugby match, and a father and son sit across from me. For the first time in about 15 minutes, I feel safe; there’s too many people around for him to bother with me. The father and son are friendly and I tell them the story. Though my heart is still pounding madly, it’s nice to encounter normal people and they’re in great spirits (Leinster won handily), and we talk about America. I get off at Connolly Station to make my transfer, and look behind me and there he is, barreling toward the exit ramp about 20 feet behind me. But I don’t think he saw me behind the crowd of people? I run up some stairs and find a security officer and briefly explain the situation; mostly so that if SOL Man attacks me on the platform at least someone will have an idea of what’s going on and not have both of us thrown in the clink. I ask for directions to my platform and cross over to the same platform I just got off at, but enough time has passed that my adversary is gone. Some nice elderly ladies confirm that the next train will take me to Greystones. I get on and watch the gorgeous Irish Sea pass by, thanking my lucky stars that I found the wherewithal to withhold what could have been a really nasty situation. For the next hour, I can smell the scent of cheap cologne on my hand.

Solo travelers, be forewarned: KEEP YERR WITS ABOUTCHYE!!!

Posted by coolmcjazz 02:46 Archived in Ireland Tagged trains dublin Comments (0)

day 7: in our end is my beginning

in which the cast performs a highly technical modern dance move entitled 'the swampoodle scatter'

sunny 42 °F

How strange, unexpected, familiar, slightly bittersweet, and overall quite pleasant it is to be writing from this bedroom on the coast in Greystones, about an hour south of Dublin, a room where I stayed with my ex during my trip here in August of 2008. During that trip we had the chance to stay with Peter, a terrific gent (and Irish Times editor who Kirstin’s father had met while walking the Camino in Spain) and his lovely wife Moira, responsible for one of the most legendary meals these eyes have ever feasted upon. (I can’t believe I never got photographs of that spread!) With the uncertainty and last-minute changes to travel plans this weekend (Rachel and Stacy and I had initially, albeit loosely, planned to hitch a ride to County Kerry with Collette), I phoned Peter this morning and asked if it would be OK to come and stay, and I’m quite fortunate this seemed a good weekend for an under-announced visit.

But perhaps I should start with the morning. After snagging only around 3 hours sleep Saturday night, I woke and decided that though my body certainly craved more rest, it’d be more worth my while to get situated for the day’s travels. I began by throwing a week’s worth of clothes into the tiny kitchen washer/dryer. Having really only brought a fairly small amount, this was a bit of a necessity, though I should’ve known the dryer would take approximately forever to dry anything, thus holding up my morning plans. (Also notice the photo of me in a t-shirt and towel; I put everything in so was wandering around in this get-up while Jo and Tom came over to reclaim the bed they had set up for MJ in the downstairs bedroom.)

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While Tom took MJ to his train, I tried to dry just a few items and talked with Jo a bit. Tom had come in that morning with a copy of the Irish Times, announcing that Jo had just been nominated for Best Director in the country-wide drama awards! (Performance Corporation also snagged nods for Best New Play and Best Actor!) So that’s fun to discuss, and certainly well-deserved, if our process is any indication. Tom comes back and I pack my final things, including a backpack full of still-wet clothes; I’m hoping to dry them in Greystones.

[INSERT STORY OF CRAZED MAN ON TRAIN HERE. Cuz that kinda needs its own entry.]

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Peter walks over to the train station to get me in a light drizzle, and I’m starting to feel tired and headachy from last night’s fun. We get to the house and its just as I remember; Peter and Moira are a delightful, worldly couple and it’s terrific to see them. There’s a subtle and slight personal sadness in the air, however, as when I was here last (slightly under two and a half years ago) it was through a connection made by my ex, and stayed here with her. It’s fascinating to be back in a place where I suppose I assumed I wouldn’t ever be back again, and my hosts are just as gracious and welcoming as before. Also like last time, their son is away and their now-in-University daughter is around.

Especially after the shenanigans on the train, it’s nice to settle in and catch up. I sit at the dining room table with a glass of water and tell the story of the week’s rehearsal, and the story of the train, and I’m amazed at how much adrenaline I still have pumping through me because of the near-incident. I sit at the long wooden dining room table, site of an epic feast in my memory, and also the setting where I heard the news that Barack Obama had chosen Joe Biden to be his VP running mate during the 2008 election. (I about leaped out of my seat at that news – I’ve always been a fan of Joe!) I’m still reeling a bit from the train incident, and feeling pretty queasy, so after a glass of wine (ha!) and some quick catching up on the rehearsal week and train story, I go up to take a nap, and sleep soundly for about an hour. When I return, Moira has some tomato lentil soup, feta salad and beans made and it’s all delicious. After some lengthy, erudite discussion of politics, the Irish economy, and the ills of social media, we head to the anteroom where a nice fire is keeping the Irish winter chill away. I ask Peter for the book that we gave to him on the last visit; it’s a book of photographs of then-candidate Obama taken by Pete Souza, and we gave it at the time in the desperate hope that he would become President. It’s nice to sit and actually browse through it, which I hadn’t taken the time to do previously.

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I turn in early and spend some time catching up on blog writing. The bed is incredibly comfortable and the electric blanket is a godsend and I sleep like a fallen tree. The following morning I sleep in, and write more before getting up. I've got a full week ahead of me, and I'll be in Spain and France! And nothing will involve the word planks.

Posted by coolmcjazz 17:43 Archived in Ireland Tagged greystones Comments (1)

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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Comments (3)

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