On the last day of our 'Flamingo Flamingo Flamingo' tour, we received a phone call to confirm that we would be taking part in the Keochang International Festival of Theatre in South Korea. Plested and Brown go international eh? Get us.
But it's not all bikinis and lonely planet books you know.
The festival, the largest of its kind in South Korea and in its 16th year, is situated in a beautiful national park. Dotted amongst the hills, lakes and traditional Korean buildings lie five unique and enchanting theatres. Over the month of August each year these theatres accommodate over 150 performances by 42 different groups.
Our performance space was a large open-air stage. 'Flamingo Flamingo Flamingo' was one of the last shows to be performed at the festival and with the weather slightly unpredictable we prayed for a clear evening with no rain.
It was at this point Clare decided that someone was definitely watching over us. On both days the rain stopped for our performance.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the experience was the commitment, support and sense of excitement from the local community towards the festival. It's a very humbling and moving experience to witness over 400 people queue for hours in wet weather or sit in puddles in order to watch your production.
Despite the language barrier the audience seemed wholly committed and captivated by the action. The energy they generated in turn impacted on our performance, creating a truly unique experience for us. We all agree that those shows were the most exciting and exhilarating of our lives. The production even proved so popular we were asked to perform an extra show - which we gladly did.
The chance to engage with a new audience and interact with other international artists in a professional and creative environment was extremely inspiring and motivating. Almost debilitating in fact. Now all we can think about is doing it again somewhere else.
We were all set… to race back from the Edinburgh Festival, where we had been performing Hot Pursuit, to re-rehearse Flamingo Flamingo Flamingo in 5 days before we flew out to Armenia.
That was until the director of HIGH FEST, Artur Ghukasyan, came along to see our new show Hot Pursuit at the Pleasance Courtyard and insisted we took that show instead.
The Yerevan International Festival of Theatre (HIGH FEST) attracts more than 150 participants from 18 countries. Theatre companies and invited speakers from Sweden, Russia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Israel, Spain, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and the Czech Republic would be taking part…. Oh and Plested and Brown from Great Britain!
With the support of the British Council Armenia and the Arts Council England we packed up the set and props and freighted them out to meet us when we arrived a week later.
We performed two sell out shows in the beautiful Yerevan State Chamber Theatre in the heart of the city. The language barrier didn't seem to effect the audiences response and Hot Pursuit was a huge success and soon became the talked about show within the Festival.
HIGH FEST was an amazing time for Plested and Brown and provided an important opportunity for the company not only to strengthen its international links, but further their artistic development through exchanges and interaction with other international artists.
We've just finished our tour of New Zealand and it's been quite an experience! We've clocked up 16 performances and 5000 kilometers in four weeks. Get us. We've been performing from Keri Keri at the top of the north island all the way down to Greymouth on the south island. The show has been a great success and our audiences just fantastic - really lively and very vocal! Quite often it's felt like panto crowd as we've constantly had people joining in and talking back to us from the audience. Some of the things they've said have been hysterical - a man in Napier shouted out 'take your socks off' during a scene where Adam was standing in his underpants - so he did and stuffed them down his boxers! People over here are not afraid to show how much they're enjoying a show and are quite happy to participate and interact with us which makes it so much more fun.
Playing to some of the biggest audiences we've ever had has been both exciting and scary. We've certainly had a good dose of nerves... Although nothing beats the first laugh - then you know can relax, enjoy it and reel 'em in...
Venues and audiences have made us feel extremely welcome and the response to our work fantastic - so much so that we've been asked to come out again in 2008 to tour another of our shows! Gillian Houser - the organiser here in New Zealand - is an inspiration. She's really committed to bringing over good work to NZ and works hard to get the people she wants and make the festival a success.
By bringing Plested and Brown out to NZ, the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland and North Shore Productions have created a successful template for future professional, international work to be toured over here and long may it continue (especially with shows by Plested and Brown!)
We've certainly seen a lot of the country - which has been just stunning. Ok, everyone at home is having the hottest summer ever and we're wearing thermals but you can’t beat driving through miles of the most incredible landscapes and tasting some of the best wines you've ever had. Hard life eh?