first blog post from Montenegro

Well, it’s been a busy and engaging first three weeks, here at the hub of the Caravan.  With so many new people to meet, new rhythms to establish, new environments to explore and a major time change, it’s taken all of my energy and attention.

When I arrived, there were only about 13 people here, as I came a little early due to finding a cheap flight.  The production team were hard at work building the infrastructure on the ship to support the giant puppet heads that will be part of the show “the Controllers”.  The rest of them were gathering materials from any and everywhere they could be found: soliciting donations, and scrounging from the numerous roadside dump piles, even pulling apart old tvs and mattresses for crazy “Controller” parts.  The rest of the found materials went to furnishing the “Shore Palace”, which is the name for the house that has fortuitously been found for our use for free, and is conveniently located just through a beautiful park from the boat.

The boat is moored at Porto Montenegro, which is enduring a savage building project funded by a very wealthy Canadian investor.  Every morning, no exceptions, they begin at 7:00am, with the jackhammers, shouting, and heavy machinery, rapidly transforming our surroundings into a high end marina intended for yachts.  Our gypsy Caravan is in complete contrast to our environment, but because there is so much disruption in our environment, we blend in, in a funny way.

The park has trees from all over the world, planted and maintained originally by the military, as they were stationed here in the port during the recent unrest.  The house is huge, and made out of cool stone with marble and wood flooring.  It looks like a boarding house, with three floors plus a basement and over 18 rooms.  The entire basement has been transformed into a centre for textiles, with one room for costumes and sewing, another for masks and yet a third for puppet design.  There is a lovely trellis with grapevines cooling the lower level, and behind the house as seen through the wooden shutters are impressive hills and mountains.

The town of Tivat is small, and right on the Adriatic Sea.  There are lovely pebble beaches, and a beautiful sanctuary just a short walk from the boat with crumbling stone buildings, cool roadways lined with planted trees, and goats running free.  There are goats in a lot of places here in the countryside, and all the cheese is goat’s cheese.  Prices are super cheap, the most dangerous being a 2 litre bottle of local beer for 1.60 Euros, and wine for 3.00Euros.  Needless to say, we have been indulging regularly.

When I first arrived, it was fairly cool at nights, but now it has warmed up to an almost intolerable heat.  Before we got the fan set up on the boat in the fore deck, it was unbearably hot on the boat, and though it’s cooler now, it’s still sticky.  I’ve taken to sleeping up on the deck.  Slowly, by two’s and three’s, the rest of the performers and crew have arrived, until we now number 39!  As you can imagine, mealtimes are cozy, and I am rarely if ever alone.

Our daily meeting begins at 9:00am, after which we head to the theatre for our movement warm up, followed by a vocal warm up which takes us to 11:15.  At 11:30-2:00 we either have a dance/movement/blocking rehearsal, or aerials.  Lunch is at 2:00 followed by siesta unless you have a chore to do, which is not every day, but there are 13 daily chores that we share between us.  We begin again at 4:00-7:30, either with a script reading/discussion or work on our text or aerials.  It’s a long day of almost 10 hours, but things are coming together quickly, which is exciting, and the theatre is cool, which is a relief.

So far we have had weekends off, but as production steps up, starting this coming weekend, I think, we will work on Saturdays as well, maybe for only half a day.  The plan is to have the show ready by mid July, and our first performance will be here in Tivat, and presented by the city/local theatre.

There have been many adventures so far, and I will try to be more diligent with finding time to share them over the next little while.  I’m growing so much, and really enjoying the process.  Although there are often a lot of challenges, I am finding that I am adjusting to all the many specifics of living on a boat, and being around this many people with whom we work and live.  It’s a wild and wonderful adventure!

I love you all, and hope you’re having a fantastic time wherever you are.  Stay tuned for the next update and to request access to my photos on Flickr, email me at alisoun_payne@hotmail.com

be well,

Alisoun

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