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Sunday
Aug052012

Cultural Studies: ENDURE London Diaries Part 2

It's been a crazy week and I can't believe it's our last day here in London already! Final show is tonight, then Suchan and I hop a train to Edinburgh bright and early tomorrow morning. The crew follows a few hours later and we do it all over again!

We started our London performances on Thursday morning with a private showing for Minister of Culture Heather Klimchuck and the Executive Director of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Jeffrey Anderson, along with several of their staff (one of whom has run 9 marathons). They brought their photographer and we learned that seeing ENDURE was an official part of the Alberta Government's mission at the London Olympics. 

Mr. Anderson arrived in a full suit and tie with mirrored aviator sunglasses. He looked like a CIA agent! All of them had meetings and formal government luncheons scheduled later that morning, so we weren't sure how much of the show they'd be able to see. I was desperately hoping they'd be able to experience the whole show, so I dove in and gave it all I had.

Let's just say: everyone stayed to the end, meetings and luncheons be damned. They loved it. Jeffrey Anderson was choked up and Minister Klimchuck was gushing over the experience. It was such a brilliant way to start our run of shows, I can't even tell you. We rested a bit in the afternoon and then headed back to the theatre for opening night and the most surprising show of my life.

At the beginning of the piece, after the crew has lead the audience to the park, I join them and start the performance. I do some dance movement and then I take off running. The audience follows. At least...the 50 audiences I've had thus far have followed. My London opening night audience DIDN'T. They waited there, patient and reserved, until my crew finally had to lead them to the next scene's location! It was hilarious and baffling and totally unexpected. We got a sudden insight into British culture as it relates to intimate, interactive theatre! 

It was still a great performance, though. And, as always, I got 'em in the end. No one can resist the power of that ending!

The next day we made some tweaks to our beginning in order to help our audience understand that they have permission to move and interact and engage. They were just minor tweaks, but if the second audience was any indication: they totally worked. The second show was the show of my life. It was exactly the experience we came here to create. A nice big group, all totally engaged and with me on the adventure. 

Yesterday we had a morning off for the first time since we got here, so Mary, Julie and I went for DELICIOUS breakfast (scones! clotted cream! tea!) and then ventured down to Hyde Park for a bit of sightseeing. Bad idea. All we saw were gates and barricades as they set up for a cycle race and the triathlon events. It was a mob scene of people and we had a hell of a time getting anywhere. So the whole thing just kind of wore me out further. I'll have to go back to London and explore it under different circumstances.

Last night's performance was a weird one for me, but a great one for the audience. Early on in the show, during a scene we call Sugar Burn, I collapse to the ground and drag myself along it for a period of time. This time I dragged myself forward and overshot it somehow, slamming my chin right into the ground. It jammed my jaw back into my skull and hurt like hell. I carried on with the scene but was so discombobulated I then ran into a tree. I did several more scenes, seeing stars, surreptitiously trying to test out my jaw and see whether it was functional. For a while it wouldn't open, but I kept on performing, hoping it would loosen up.

From later reports, apparently I gave a great show! The pain and weirdness in my jaw forced me to get fully present and that performance was definitely an exercise of endurance. I still find it hilarious that the only injury I've sustained in 50 performances was not to an ankle or a knee, but to my face.

After the show, we walked back to Riverside Studios for a bite at the restaurant. I had just sat down with my glass of wine when who should walk in but Miss Christine Owman! She and Jessica had conspired to surprise me with a visit from Sweden. Her parents have joined her here and they'll be coming to tonight's closing show. We've got a big audience tonight and it is forecast to rain all day, so I'm hoping things clear up and we can finish up our London experience with a...I was going to say bang, but I think I'll leave it at...great show.

(My face feels better today, by the way!)

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Reader Comments (2)

Melanie ..
You're an inspiration.
You did it!
.. and you affected many people in the process ..
Thank you for being amazing.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDewi Wood

I wish I had the opportunity to take part in your amazing performance but since I´m from the Czech republic I do not think I ever will... Or is there any chance you would do a tour with your performance around the states in the central Europe ? :-) Nevertheless, I admire you a great deal and wish you all the best with your future work! :-)

Radka

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRadka Paligova

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