Monday, 19 May 2014

Lace Market Theatre twinning. Fond memories.

After a very successful Theatre Exchange week in April this year I decided to give members from all three groups an opportunity to share their thoughts on the week and without further ado here are a selection of some of them. I was very touched by the often emotional responses. Phil Lowe.

Viktor & Stephanie Mueller ( Die Käuze)

The week before Easter the Karlsruhe theatre “Die Käuze” visited its friends at the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham. The theatre exchange is a 32-year-old tradition. As two of the youngest members of this exchange program, we experienced an extraordinarily heart-warming welcome and enjoyed the Lace Market’s hospitality throughout our stay. The journey to Nottingham consisted of a few hours of driving, a nice night on a ferry and a few close calls in the left-handed traffic. We can imagine we arrived at Lace Market Theatre looking worn out but also excited to be there. The first tears started to run when the long-term members of both theatres fell into each others’ arms. It was a very moving moment to see them meet again.

Those of us visiting for the first time didn’t feel any less welcomed. Our particular host, Steve Parry, was great, and we had a few nice evenings with him, chatting over this and that. When the time came to set up our play for the performance, we had some difficulties to overcome which is normal when putting on a play in a new place. But even then, our friends from LMT were extremely helpful and worked overtime to finish the stage so we would have enough time to rehearse. The performance went well, and we had a great audience.

On the last day of our stay, we went to Stratford to pay homage to the Bard of Avon. Once again the LMT team proved themselves to be excellent guides. It was a real treat to see not only the beautiful city and the historical sites, but also take part in a special backstage tour of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

On departing, everyone gave each other hugs with tears in their eyes. New friendships were made and old ones strengthened. We are already looking forward to seeing the LMT members when they come over here to Germany, and we hope we can return the wonderful hospitality we experienced in Nottingham.

Norbert Wingender (Die Käuze)

Two things I learned in Nottingham

1. There's the left side and there's the wrong side.
2. Two yellow lines are not street decorations.

Didn't drive this time, wasn't towed away this time. But was carried away by the hospitality we received at the LMT. It's anyone's guess how much time and effort was spent to prepare things for us, cook for us (thanks, Max and all your little helpers) and support us, and how many wives/husbands suffered from their husbands/wives working long hours for us.  My guess is: a lot.

We were second to play so we were in a hurry, but it's nice - and comforting - to always see someone rushing up and down the ladder who really knows what he's doing, so the play went smoothly three times at last. Although half of the play is getting changed and providing proof that two bodies actually can take the same space at the same time. Since this is not perceivable to the public, I hope the audience enjoyed the visible part as much as we did.

My special thanks to Joy and Gordon who gave three of us a home for a week, fed us, transported us and endured all our mistreatments of their mother tongue. My special apology to the lady who checked the safety precautions at the theatre - I would have been pleased to give her my full attention but am a little shy when I'm busy changing my trousers.

Two things I learned this time in Nottingham:
1. Not all English buses are red.
2. English food is good.

Oh, and LMT has great people. But I knew that already.

Carsten Thein (Jakobus)

Performing a show in our German language on the stage of a theatre of Karlsruhe's twinning city Nottingham, is always a great pleasure to me. It's the best evidence that I can imagine that shows how small the distances between countries have become today. The people of the Lace Market Theatre have become very good friends for us at Jakobus and during the week in Nottingham we've even had the feeling of being part of a big theatre-family. We can't wait for the next meeting in Karlsruhe in the Spring of 2016.

Larissa Kaufmann (Die Käuze)

Ey up me ducks! It was this year around Easter when we, the Theatre die Käuze, came from Karlsruhe to the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham again, like every four years. For me it was now the 7th time. I have always taken part in the twinning of the three theatres; from the time I was planned (in 1982) after I was born in 1985. The warm welcome of people that where there from the beginning makes you feel like you never had been away and of course it is very nice to meet new people too.

When I walk up the stairs to the theatre club  I feel like I have just been there just the day before. The rooms and corridors behind the stage and below the audience, where we get ready for the show, feel very familiar. There are the stickers of the two theatres from Karlsruhe on the dressing rooms´ mirrors and there are the pictures and everything from our long years of twinning the theatre club. There is the "last order" call from the bar at half past eleven.....the mingle-mangle of paints in front of the actors´ toilets... the conglomeration of technical stuff in the lighting corner. All join to create good memories.

Of course we also have much to do with rehearsals and setting up the stage, but this is a task we like very much. Especially finding solutions with the help of our friends. It is always exciting to see how things are arranged on a different stage, how everything will work out. And it is done in a way that is similar to ours.

But there is one sad aspect: after all the effort that was put in from our friends we have to leave after one week and again I could not speak to all the people we know from the years before. There is just too little time we have with our hosts.... What was going on during the years we were absent? What´s going on in Notts?..... I hope the time will not be too long until The Lace Market theatre will come to Karlsruhe again in two years time.

Gordon Parsons (LMT)

This was our first experience of hosting guests from Karlsruhe and Joy and I found it a most rewarding one. Personally, I think I had the best and healthiest breakfasts ever! We even coped with the early starts. We were impressed with our guests' punctuality and with their willingness to help and to speak English. As Joy said, I knew plenty of German nouns but had trouble stringing them into a coherent sentence.

We were also most impressed by the LMT's catering standards, a great credit to all involved. What we found especially heart-warming was the support our members and guests gave to the productions. We scored highly here. Boeing Boeing was an absolute delight. The ingenious way of narrating the story for non-German speakers was particularly impressive as were the musical interludes, costumes, acting and set. The charming Til Eulenspiegel formed an excellent contrast and both must make us feel that we should give considerable consideration in the future to exactly what we take on our return visit in two years time. The theatre was buzzing all week. A triumph."

Lisa Bossert (Jakobus)

It was my first time in Nottingham. My first time in England at all! I was totally " over the moon " - even the weather was much better than expected - who would have thought that you can get sunburned in England? ? To play Boeing Boeing in Germany , was great and we actors were very excited. But also – playing the same play for a foreign audience , who apparently really understood almost everything from the plot - at least they laughed in the right places - was sensational and memorable!

The mere fact that the stage looked almost like at home  when we arrived,  made it quite easy to prepare for the performances ... Thanks again to the many volunteers who have made this possible! I found the exchange between the three theaters and of course the people from all different ages and mentalities especially valuable. I am very glad not to have slept at a hotel because I could really " immerse " and have an English experience . What is the everyday life, they really only eat fish and chips ? ( No!) I have taken my hosts to my heart and cannot wait for it to be next time in Germany . This exchange was an incredibly beautiful experience . To meet so many people who are interested and have shown syphathy (Thanks Phil ! ) It was heart-warming and appreciated! Thanks and see you all soon. Lisa.

Karsten Stephan (LMT)

I would like to express my appreciation on behalf of the students studying German at Alderman White School and Bramcote College for the superb week of German theatre which you have just organised. All our sixth-formers studying German together with a large number of adult learners of German (Alderman White has a community-based language programme for adult language learners) came to see one of the two productions , 'Boeing, Boeing' and 'Till Eulenspiegel' - and it some cases both!
To quote one student ' It is great to have this opportunity to experience live German theatre'. ' My sixth-formers were still talking about the plays days afterwards, even the discussing the language they had learned and understood. One student raised some points of grammar which he had remembered from one of the plays.

This has been such a valuable educational experience for everyone and for those interested in theatre itself (and we have many students who are actively involved in extra-curricular drama) there was also a fascinating discussion with regard to stagecraft in 'Till Eulenspiegel'

Long may this wonderful international educational experience continue.

Simon Carter (LMT)

As a 'newcomer' to the Theatre Exchange, I thoroughly enjoyed the week. It was lovely to meet everyone and to assist both groups technically with their productions. Thanks for bringing two very different but equally brilliant shows to the theatre, and for making them so enjoyable even for those like me who's German is lacking. I hope to see everyone again in the future."

Cora Krukhof ( Die Käuze)

It was the first time I came to Nottingham and the Lace Market Theatre. I was impressed by the possibilities and equipment of your theatre, but even more so by the affectionate reception and the support all of you gave us.

Special thanks to Gill for organizing so well, to Max who provided us with such delicious food during the days of rehearsal, and of course to the whole team (technicians, "stage-rebuilder",...) who helped to keep everything going so smooth. In one phrase: It was a wonderful experience being with you. THANKS TO YOU ALL!

Gill Scott (LMT)

Organising and co-ordinating a week's visit from Jakobus and Die Käuze to our theatre may seem a daunting prospect, but there are two things I can always rely on.  The first is the unfailing good humour, adaptability and friendliness of our German guests and secondly, the generosity, flexibility, expertise and determination to make a success of everything of our own members.  It does, of course, mean a great deal of advance planning on both sides.  

An important element is identifying hosts and then trying to match up hosts, guests and parking requirements of transport to ensure a smooth transfer after long journeys.  Pet and food allergies  play a part in the matching up!  And this is one area where flexibility and unflappability of the person in charge, in this case Hilary Evans, is key.  There are often last minute changes to deal with.  

One other aspect also needs early planning - the day's outing.   The planned visit to Stratford Shakespeare theatre involved two reccies - to suss out the backstage tour of the theatre and the proposed restaurant for lunch.  Here Doreen Sheard's expertise as a courier is invaluable in ensuring an enjoyable day for everyone.

Building a set for a play not seen and at a distance as well as setting up the sound and light is a big ask, but Hugh, Philip H, Philip A, Simon and Peter did a fantastic job as did Rose in sourcing last minute requests for props.

And don't forget the commissariat - lunches for over thirty people plus tea and cakes for five days was amply provided by Max Bromley and Bar Fisher. And the party! Wow! what a send off Linda provided on the Friday evening. There are of course other elements, such as publicity, FOH, staff, bar staff, often taken for granted, but certainly not by me. I hope this has given people an idea of what is involved in this project. It is something of which all members can be proud. Gill

Phil Lowe (LMT)

What more can I add except to say what a wonderful week we all had! Alongside the plays and our 'official' events I enjoyed the pleasure of seeing our smiling guests in and around the theatre and out and about as we all enjoyed the fabulous weather, the beer at The Trip and the theatre bar and the pleasures of various restaurants in Nottingham and the fun morning at Batman's House with our friends from Jakobus. I will always remember the exciting challenge of creating the Friday party speech with help from Michael Darmola (keep it light hearted Phil!) and Carsten Thein and Markus who helped make sure the spoken German was good and funny. Doing that speech in German with Michael was one of the proudest moments of my life as a member of the Lace Market Theatre and just proved to me that our friendship with our beautiful friends from Karlsruhe is ever blossoming. Here's to the next time in Karlsruhe!

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