The village was in a state of excitement all day. We've had to ticket the two shows - which is pretty unheard of, but the performance space is relatively small and although we've cleared all available exits it's not the easiest place to evacuate should the need arise. The decision has caused some rumbling amongst the cast and there are worries that some of the audience won't accept the limit on numbers (especially those who don't get in.)
The cast stoically went through their lines. There are still some struggles, but we managed to stagger through a couple of times in the morning and that made things settle. The centrepiece of the show is a big meal organised by the village for the returning Fausto, with genuine Cantabrian delicacies. It takes six minutes to set up, underscored by traditional music and full company involvement.
The ever chatty Chello led the cooking and we were invited into her kitchen to see the bean stews, fish pastries and chicken and onion pizzas being knocked out. The students meanwhile knocked out a big sign saying Teatro - which they rigged up over the front door with minutes to spare.
The shows went brilliantly and were totally packed out. Early on in the first Carmen broke her glasses and tried to leave the stage to nip home and get her spare pair. Stage Managers and fellow actors tried to disuade her, but as she rightly said to the audience,
' This is ridiculous. You all know where I live, I'll only be a moment!'
'What shall I do?' asked Maria, left on stage alone.
'Tell them another story,' said Carmen 'we'll pick this one up when I'm back.'
The relief and joy at the end was incredible and the audience hadn't even cleared before the party started. Our well laid 'get out' plans had to be put on hold as the village celebrated. The students sang their song and Arthur, a twelve year old bag pipe player, turned up to provide some jigs. It was gone four in the morning when the final bottle of cava was cracked open and we all wobbled home to bed with Anglo-Cantabrian relations at an all time high. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.