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
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.