Guest blogger Joe Alessi writes from the road as he plays Albert in the Australian tour of Brief Encounter.
We are Kneehigh but I wish I was Bill Oddie..
For the last five, maybe six years, every New Year's Eve, as a resolution, i've thought: wouldn't it be nice this year to learn about the birds - ornithology: learn to recognise their calls and indeed to recognise them:
"Oh wow! Look at that! What is it? Isn't it beautiful!"
"Ah yes, that's a Goldfinch."
Yes, that's what i'm going to do! I'll buy a book tomorrow. (And if i have time, i'll throw trees in there too) Invariably, as sure as Winter gives way to Spring, my good intentions give way to the pace of life and work and sadly another year goes by where i forget about the birds as they chirrup loudly to get my attention, trying to remind me of my New Year's Resolution.
Amongst the many things that have delighted and excited me here in Australia thus far are indeed, the birds. It's instantly evident that the birds here are completely different to our native species, due to the unfamiliar calls and songs, it's the thing we all noticed first and foremost when we first arrived in the city, stumbling around the streets like jet-lagged zombies, laden with provisions from the market, the birdsong are many and varied and loud, they stop you in your tracks: "What is that?" as we crane our necks trying to see where that strange call came from. There are Parrots, Parakeets, members of the Corvid family that look similar to ours (the Magpie here for instance is a lot smaller than ours, still black and white but not as cocky or bragadoccio) Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Miners, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Rock Doves, Adelaide Rosellas, Magpie Larks and one of my favourites, the Crested Pigeon, similar to a Turtle Dove or Wood Pigeon but with a big pointed feather on its head! Really pretty and will allow you to get up close, especially if you have some seeds, where you can appreciate the subtleties of the many colours (not just grey!) in its feathers. (with thanks to Trevor Hampel's great website for help with Adelaide's native bird population) I urge you to pop the names of all these birds into your search engine and look them up and i'm sure you'll find their calls online too, really fantastic and exotic, but to Australians, perfectly normal and everyday.
On Friday we had our press night, the show went smoothly and i think everyone enjoyed it a great deal - they were quiet, laughed and clapped in all the right places which, i suppose, is the best you can ask for. We were all pretty exhausted, having to deal with two weeks of jet lag, rehearsing and previewing but we rose admirably to the occasion. Afterwards, we all got dressed up and State Theatre and Arts Project Australia laid on a great after-show party for us.
The Adelaide Festival Centre comprises of three spaces: The Festival Theatre, a 2000 seat proscenium arch space, Dunstan Playhouse where we're playing, 590 seats, again with a proscenium arch and the Space Theatre, which is an adaptable studio space with no traditional stage or fixed seating. It was in this space that we discovered that Yuna was performing for two nights, i think it was Nettsy who noticed the name on the dressing room door and excitedly commented that we were sharing a corridor with Yuna; Nettsy recommended her album to me a few weeks back, she's an LA based Malaysian singer who, i'm willing to lay money on, will be playing on Jools Holland's next series of 'Later..' We bumped into her management in said corridor and Kate Cheel cheekily asked if we could sneak in to see the last half hour of her concert after our show on Saturday night, which they kindly agreed to; so after a busy week and two shows on the Saturday, Annette, Damon, James and myself snuck into the darkness of the Space Theatre and sat ourselves down on the floor down the side of the hall whilst Yuna performed the last twenty five minutes of her set. It was just what we needed, we felt ourselves unwind and relax and breathe just a little slower as her music washed over us like a soothing balm, my thoughts drifted, realising that we'd finally opened our beautiful show in Adelaide, Australia; about what the next two and a half months might hold for us, the great and varied experiences that lie ahead in all the other venues and cities.
It's all good.
In the next installment i shall tell you all about our trip to a wildlife park where we hugged koalas and fed kangaroos and wallabies, my issue with sushi, riding the bike that Michelle Nightingale kindly lent me, writing postcards and a man in the street shouting loudly about Jesus and God who looked just like my Dad..
Love, light, peace and respect
ps. As a final word on water going down the plughole, (honest) if you live on the equator, it flows neither clockwise or anti-clockwise, it goes straight down! I know, mind blown, i had to sit down too..
Blog1: To the Airport
Blog 2: Dubai from the Sky and Adelaide Arrives
Blog 3: 4:26am
Blog 4: Urban Myths, the Genius of Coward, and 'The Fear'
Blog 5: Venus, Breakfast, and the Ying & Yang of Adelaide