new zealand electronic poetry centre

Alan Brunton



Red Mole in Norway: Miff Reports 

Porsgrunn International Theatre Festival 

Originally published in Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter (August 2002): 4, 10.

Porsgrunn, 14 - 22 June 

Itís a sunny blue day. I am rehearsing for Nattens Hemmligheter or ĎThe Nightís Secretsí the day before the festival is to start. Sally, Alan and Jeff arrived last night and I am supposed to find Daphne. I cunningly think to rush away after the rehearsal hoping to meet her at the train station, but she has already bumped into the rest of the New Zealanders. She has already merged into this renegade group of islanders. I find them, bewildered tourists, outside the town hall. Alan has too many clothes on for the weather; Jeff is so tall I almost canít see his head; Sally is wearing an appropriately blue and white floral number and of course The Bowler Hat; Angeline is a seasoned visitor to Norway, and Daphne is disappearing under a large, black Kathmandu pack. Time is short; I have to run to the next rehearsal. Hi Sally! Hi Alan! Thatís the bridge, I have to run! They are on their way to buy food and cook it at home. They are already fainting from the cost of everything. 

Sally wants honey, for Grooves of Glory. Norway is not big on honey and we donít find any in the supermarket. She settles for a light syrup. Alan keeps me company while I pick up a megaphone, a bamboo blind and one less than satisfactory drum. The light syrup is left in the car. 

Gareth (the now husband of Angeline Conaghan) helps rig up the various and strange bits of scenography that have accompanied Red Mole in a long narrow box to this faraway place. The next morning I arrive to do the lights. What do you need? Ohhh, says Alan, nothing really, just a wash and a blackout, nothing too fancy. Just, if we could have a kind of pulsating red effect in the middle, here. Also these electric tulips, this shadow effect and, no thatís it really. 

I am feeling slow, the nights have been long. Gareth wanders in to help me. Alan is Mr Calm until the Polish group enters and stands in a in a tight pack, pointing and gesticulating at the ceiling with the head technician (she is wearing a floral dress and khaki shorts combination today). An energy is building in the air, pacing has begun; weíre starting to feel the pressure.  

Finally I am ready to plot the lights and soon after Alan and I sit down with Sally on stage to mark out this performance which I have yet to see. Alanís wash and blackout turns into forty cues. I hope like hell I get them all right.  Today I have become stage manager, lighting tech and properties assistant. As I run over to the supermarket to pick up another pot of light syrup, Sally remarks that I am quite bossy. Somebody has to get these Kiwis into gear. There is a lunch for all the artists at Geddyís house. The weather is brilliant and it seems so unfair that we have to leave as quickly as we came in order to fit in a much-needed run-through. 

Grooves of Glory, Wednesday 19 June 

Ten minutes to go. There are quite a lot of people in the cafe, I inform the actors. Iím not sure if that was the right thing to say or not. We let them in and begin. To be honest I am worried, as the play progresses, about the language being used. I am hearing words, big words that I have forgotten; they are a novelty to hear. But itís okay! Sally is wonderful, creating a bridge between the two men on stage. Her expression and physicality is stunning and glitters in my eyes. Jeff is weaving music, sewing the disparate poems together -- how does he create a whole soundscape out of piano-sax-vocals? Alanís voice is deep and lubricious: he is an American private detective, he is confrontational, he is simply telling, he is Alan. 

The Audience Applauds, a lot. A friend comes up to me afterwards and says the show was beautiful. He is light and happy. Geddy offers a beer to a breathless and sweaty Sally. Christina Castrillo is smiling and congratulating. I have to run again, to the next performance.

Zarathustra Said, Friday 21 June 

I couldnít go to their concert Zarathustra Said, because I was working on another show. They acquired a translator for the more important bits. Sally got to use her megaphone at last. The girls (Ange and Daphne) looked beautiful; I saw their photo in the local rag. They said it went very well but I wish I could have been there to support them. 

Weíre at the train station now. Daphne, Terje (my boyfriend) and I have walked there and are early because Daphne was getting a bit anxious. Sally and Alan turn up in their hostís car with rented trailer in tow to transport the long narrow box complete with various and strange bits of scenography. The host has become enamored of Sally and Alan. The night before I had announced to the New Zealanders that I am getting married to Terje at the end of the summer. An excited Sally has told everyone and congratulations are flying round. Alan says Terje must take care of me and is annoyed because I wonít be taking my husbandís surname. 

I take a photo of all who are gathered to take this grey and wet-day train. The announcement Here comes the train! is followed by a mad rush of hugs and kisses. Suddenly, after a brief circus act of baggage and people and hats and coats, the train has left the platform. Geddy, Grethe, Terje and I are the only ones left. It starts to rain. The festival is over and Porsgrunn has already gone back to sleep.


Myfanwy Moore


Last updated 03 December, 2002