The First Day at the Northern Stage


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

We had our first day at the Northern Stage today. It is a modern, recently renovated theatre on the campus of Newcastle University just across from the Civic Centre. It exists in such sharp contrast to the Swan in so many ways. The backstage is all brand new: bright clean hallways, a spacious well-equipped green room, and WINGS! Yippee!

There is actually room for props tables, quick changes, and a bit of milling about. This makes the process of teaching a new crew so much easier.

And the onstage space is completely different also. Well, the deck is the same, and they have constructed the set to duplicate exactly the upstage balconies and staircases at the Swan. But the house is completely different for playing. Whereas at the Swan the house is sharply vertical like the old European opera houses, the Northern Stage is long and deep, with only a small percentage of the seats at the sides of the thrust. So some alteration in the playing style is necessary to better serve the majority of the audience. This became pretty clear for us once we started staggering through. That was the job yesterday. The crew had been working overtime.

Macbeth had it’s technical rehearsal on Sunday, dress on Monday afternoon, and first show last night. All went well. But then there was a changeover from the Macbeth set to the Penelopiad set, and enormous alterations of lighting and backstage life that accompanies that changeover. So the crew were pooped.

It didn’t show. They all had their game faces on, and our technical rehearsal went very smoothly. We even finished an hour ahead of schedule! That meant a little extra time in the pub before heading back to our hotel in Jesmond.

A View of Bjornefjord (continued)

Curled up in the chaise lounge

Apparently it rains 275 days of the year in Bergen. Considering these statistics we were oh so lucky. We had sun for two of the three days we were there. Most of these days were spent curled up in the chaise lounge chairs reading. I barely moved the first afternoon. Oh maybe I sat in the gazebo for a while when the Maritime men were on a coffee break and their laughter and conversation became a bit intrusive. The option was spending time in the spa, which we both did, with massage, a Finnish Sauna at 90 degrees Celsius, 0% humidity, a Sanarium at 55 degrees Celsius, 50% humidity, and a Steam Room at 70 degrees Celsius, 100% humidity, not to mention a swimming pool with the same extraordinary view of the fjord. Paradise.

Solstrand View

Oh. And the food. If you like seafood… and I do… you’re lost. You can have fish three meals a day. There is a whole table of fish for breakfast! True! I passed on that. But I did eat fish at every other  meal. The chef was fantastic. The first night we had the chef’s selection, which was a fixed menu, and the second night we ordered a la carte. Both were fantastic, but I must say my monkfish on the a la carte night was a euphoric experience. Corrine’s plate of creme brulee looked pretty good too.

This is the kind of holiday I have never taken. Simply can’t afford to spend that kind of money on myself. But every second of this was worth it. It is a memory that I will cherish for a lifetime.

All the girls had their tales. Pippa spend two weeks on a yoga retreat in Crete. Pam spent time in London, Edinburgh, and Paris with family and friends. Jenny was on a canal boat with her family in Oxford, and then hiking in Scotland with her partner, Gord. Lisa spent time with her husband in Ireland, and then on her own in London seeing shows. Kelly went down to London and to Canterbury and relished the history, and then, unfortunately, spent some time sick in London in the care of friends. It was a great holiday, and a deserved break. And we are all so grateful, and ready to return to playing our play for the people of Newcastle.


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