Opening Night!~ :0

Well, we’ve finally had our opening night and it was a wonderful feeling! After working for two months, long hours and everyone pulling as hard as they can from all different directions to bring it all together, the show is now up and running.

The last week happened so quickly; one day the entire production team moved their stuff out of the Shore Palace, the house where they had been living and working, and a mound of their belongings arrived on the pavement of the Port parking lot. In spite of this, production continued all day in the scorching heat.  Our scrim painter has blisters between her toes from working on the hot pavement.

The next morning the boat moved to its performance docking at the main dock downtown. Suddenly we are an art installation in full public view, an attraction and point of interest to all the cafes across the road, and receiving a new perspective on this little Balkan town.  This new location is less protected, and sideways to the oncoming waves. After two months of living on a boat, we are all finally having to find our sea legs.  The afternoon sunshine slants through the portholes from a different angle now, and light reflecting from the water dances on the ceiling of the communal salon.  We are here three days before our opening, and production continues.

Our dress rehearsal was a tense one.  The preparations were unfamiliar to everyone, as the salon got turned into our dressing room.  The show feels incredibly green.  Halfway through we got a real taste of the realities of performing on ship.  An incoming boat sets the ship rocking like mad, just before a big aerial section.  The Captain calls off the fly, and we begin to improvise.  As we adjust to this technical glitch, a whole section of the show gets inadvertently rewritten.  By later reports the rocking really leant itself to the content of the scene, but all kinds of little bits and pieces were thrown off kilter, the details of which we find out from each other later and laugh about.  Then the microphone of the lead female singers stops working!  It was a true trial by fire.  Everyone pulled through, but felt a little disappointed at our thwarted attempt to unveil the show for the first time.

The next day, a number of our bunch depart.  The reality of losing half of this spirited family in the next three days sets in, as the cast prepares to go on tour and the production crew’s work is done.   The day feels unsettled, in spite of being our first day off in a six day week of intensive work, as we try to capture the last bits of sweetness in the collective experience we have co-created.  Some more leave very early in the morning the next day, still more later that afternoon.  Each one an integral part of making this whole production happen, and to the group energy and experience that we have created.

Then came last night, our opening night.  I am glad that a handful of those still set to leave have decided to delay their departure in order to see this last show in Tivat.  Spreading the  leaving out has helped to cushion the blow somewhat, and allowed for personal connections with each person leaving.  Bitter sweet.

Then… finally… opening night is upon us!  The energy feels completely different this time, more settled.  The nerves of the dress rehearsal are gone, left behind in the dusts of “what if”.  The performance, though not seamless, feels extremely solid.  The host of kids who graced our chairs stayed engaged right until the very end and the public were very appreciative.  The composer, who wisely had not come to the dress, was overwhelmed with gratitude for the transformation the show leant his beautiful music, which made me very happy.  The ship stayed rock solid throughout the entire show, and we had no microphone malfunctions.  It was a total success!  And I was so glad that those who had stayed had been able to see the show in all its potential before they went along their way into the next chapter of their lives.  Yippee!

After the show, we began our teardown, in preparation for the sail to our new location tomorrow.  A huge job, but one that will likely get more and more efficient with practice.  We are all tired, but fully satisfied.  I am so happy to close this phase of creation with a positive and successful run of the show, and to leave Tivat with a gift after hosting us so graciously for so long.

| Leave a comment

3rd post, week 5

Well, we are halfway through the production and mounting phase of this new show, “Command Performance”, getting ready to open on July 17th.  The performers have been working hard, and are exactly halfway through the piece in terms of choreography. The entire piece is set to music, and is sung like a musical/opera  The music is being masterfully created on a daily basis by a local composer Ivan, who is using software that offers samples of every instrument in the Philharmonic Orchestra to create songs that are not only unique one from the next in terms of style and instrumentation, but also has the specific meter of the words in the script. No small feat, especially for one whose first language is not English.

The faces of the giant puppets are halfway through creation. Three of the six have been made, and the other day were mounted on the scaffolding on the starboard side of the ship during a run through, so we could see their ominous presences and swivel movement of the faces in relation to the performers.   Yesterday the cast went up to the house, where the costume, mask and puppet production is taking place. It was so exciting to see the developments and designs for the first time!   We were shown the costume and mask design for each of our characters, and our individual colour schemes. The production area was a fascinating place to visit, with layers of creativity over time visible in each of the different rooms: sketches on the floor, funny lists of instructions specific to design and character body parts written on the walls and chalkboard, mask moulds of each of our faces in a row on a plank and suspended vertically on a string, a collection of custom nose pieces on the table intended to give structure to the cloth masks, shelves with coloured fabric organized in the rainbow spectrum lighting up a dark corner of the room, bits of material and mesh displaying design elements on the wall, a decorated light socket, drawings of the design of the different aspects of the characters in each room….  In the play, there are two different masks we will wear, one with a hard structure and accompanying costume details, the other one of cloth which we will wear the bulk of the performance, along with unitards of different colours.

The story of the play goes something like this. Our characters are a group of performers, drawn together by the fact that each is a “freak”, who has been genetically modified by the G6 to be perfect “super norms”. In the process of genetic modification, each of us has sacrificed a sense (sight, hearing) in order to receive an augmented version (visions, paranormal senses).   As a group, we are the proud creation of the G6, whose misguided ideals are in control of the world’s fate (sound familiar?), but somehow in the process of transformation, each of us has retained a small aspect of awareness of who we were before, and a plan for revolt begins, sparked by the arrival of the last character to join the group, a former conjoined twin who has been surgically separated from her brother, and then left alone when he was swallowed by an “orifice”, a portal to the G6 world.  As we strut and entertain the G6 at their private convention, we hatch a plan, and their greed and illusion of infallibility is their downfall, resulting in a Wizard of Oz-like revealing of the strange, small and vulnerable hybrid cyber beings that are behind the huge puppet faces. The people have overcome!! A happy ending….

| Leave a comment

Second post from Montenegro

It is the Solstice weekend, and my thoughts and heart are with my family and my clan as they gather to celebrate in our traditional way.  Here on the boat, we have just worked our first long week, 5.5 days of 10 hours a day. It has been gruelling, made all the more difficult by the heat and the draw to explore my new and unfamiliar surroundings.  I now sit relaxing in the first cool breeze of the week on the deck of the Amara Zee (which means Heart of the Sea Goddess, Amara) after a satisfying after lunch nap, and am into my weekend! yippee! I have now been here for four weeks.

The first weekend a group of us went to a neighbouring town called Kotor. It is slightly larger than Tivat and only about a half an hour’s drive away. There is an old walled city and a winsome hike above it to an old Fortress, used as a stronghold during the recent unrest in this area. We arrived in Kotor just in time to catch the tail end of a local farmer’s market, and so each of us spent a couple of Euro’s on various fresh local foods like tomatoes, fresh goat’s cheese, greens, bread and olives, then we wandered into the old city.

The streets were extremely narrow, and lined with high buildings, so we really felt we were walking in another time. To add to this, as we ducked under the stone archway that formed the gate, the first thing we saw was a man in full period costume! Fun.  The streets are paved with cobblestones, the houses made of stone, with little bits of greenery growing poetically from the cracks, and wooden shutters.   There are many stray cats that roam freely and lounge on the latticework of walls and layers of buildings, trellises, and balconies within the city.  After a short wander, we locate the entrance to the stairs that go up towards the fortress.  We pay 2 Euros for our entrance, and joke that the pay station is probably run by a local entrepreneur, and that there is probably another couple of stations just around the corner.

As the stairs zig zag up the sloping foothills, we are still surrounded by layers of housing creeping up the hillside.  As we start to climb above the houses, below us we can see the red roofs of the old city, with clay shingles as found in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. From further up, we can see the rest of the city of Kotor, of which the older walled part is only a small corner.  Above the town in both directions are fairly high hills, and above that on one side are mountains, with baked looking rock and sheer faces. We are the very end of a long, narrow fjord, in the Adriatic Sea, and around the corner of the coastline from Tivat.

In the harbour is a ginormous cruise ship like a floating city itself, whose scale and aesthetic looks completely out of proportion to the quaint architecture of the town and the decorous way it is situated.  White and imposing, it sits in the harbour, while the town ascends the hillsides in the manner of deciduous trees, seeking the valleys and the ocean’s shoreline.

We continue up the rough stone stairs, partly overgrown, but lined all the way up with a stone wall. It was a muggy day, and we were soaked with sweat from the climb. After several breathtaking view points, we reached the top, and explored the various structures of the fortress.  Some were entirely self contained, like root cellar rooms, only a little bigger. Some had slits in the stone for windows, through which we could see the sparkling water of the bay below as it danced in the sun. Still others were broken open, with the dirt spilling down from the level above in a slope of green grass and flowers.  We found a grassy spot and shared a lovely picnic, and after a short rest, returned the way we had come.

At the bottom, we celebrated our jaunt with a beer in one of the numerous restaurants in the old city, chosen for it’s comfy chairs. After which we wandered out, and onto the boardwalk that bordered the bay. We say for a time, watching the fish, who swim with the tops of their heads out of the water as they skim food off the top, something that I find unusual, as it’s not something I’ve seen, except for in Thailand. It makes the water look like it’s boiling!

After a walk along the seawall, we had a lovely meal at a beach side restaurant. I ordered squid stuffed with shrimp and drenched in a creamy butter sauce.  We returned from our lovely day by taxi through the long tunnel that bored through the mountain range that divides us from Kotor. This tunnel is very long, and has no ventilation, so the cab driver closed the windows and turned on the air conditioning. The air was smoky from trapped exhaust. It was amazing, something you don’t usually see in North America, even for all our polluting ways.

A lovely day overall 🙂

| Leave a comment

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

| Leave a comment

Caravan Stage Company 2010 Itinerary

MONTENEGRO

Tivat,               17.07
Tivat               19.07

CROATIA

Ston               24.07
Vis                  28.07
Hvar               30.07
Hvar               31.07
Ploc                04.08
Makarska      07.08
Makarska      08.08
Trogir            11.08
Sibenik          13.08
Sibenik          14.08
Biograd          18.08
Zadar             20.08
Sali                 22.08
Mali Losinj    24.08
Novigrad        26.08
Umag              29.08

SLOVENIA

Izola               03.09
Izola               04.09
Izola               05.09


Posted in Tall Ship Adventure Travel Blog | Leave a comment

Silent Online Auction

The auction is now closed… thank you for your support 🙂

From June-Oct. 2010, Alisoun will be performing aerial silk on a tall ship in the Adriatic Sea with the Caravan Stage Co.  This unique Canadian company writes and produces original work on the deck and from the rigging of their 32 metre performance barge, the “Amara Zee”.  All performers and crew aboard this magical vessel work in exchange for room and board, and the nominal earnings produced by the shows, gaining instead of money, a richness of experience.  For more information on this remarkable company, please go their website at: http://www.caravanstage.org

The 2010 tour includes Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Northern Italy.  Afterwards, Alisoun hopes to spend a month of reconnaissance to establish performance and collaborative relationships throughout Europe.  In order to support this amazing journey, I have undertaken a number of fundraising initiatives.  Presently, I am running an online silent auction, which I would love you to check out and participate in.  All proceeds from the auction go towards realizing these goals.

If you’d like to check out the vast array of goods and services available from Kamloops to California, with bids beginning at just $10.00, please go to the auction site:

Go to www.32Auctions.com

Auction ID: AlisounsFundraiser
Password: tall ship

Bidding will close on May 30th, 2010

This is meant to be a fun event, to try to outbid your fellow bidder, with the chance of gaining a beautiful gift or service for potentially lower than market cost.  Please have fun bidding on these fabulous items and services!

Private donations are also welcome, and can be made through a secure PayPal account. Consider making even a $5.00 donation.

Alisoun would like to thank the generous donations of her supportive and talented friends 🙂

Thanks for your support!

Posted in Tall Ship Adventure Travel Blog | Leave a comment

Welcome to Alisoun’s travel blog!

Welcome to Alisoun’s travel blog!

I will be posting progress reports and photos of the unfolding of my 2010 tall ship adventure in the Adriatic Sea.  If you would like to, please check in from time to time over the summer, to read about the latest developments.

When I update, I will also be sending a reminder email to those who are interested.  If you’d like to receive these updates, please email me with “add me” in the subject line and you will be included in the update list.

Thanks for checking in, and I hope you enjoy the blog!

Alisoun
alisoun_payne@hotmail.com

Posted in Tall Ship Adventure Travel Blog | 1 Comment