Monday, 15 December 2014

Greetings from the Trenches in performance at Jakobus Theatre

For those of you who have been following the progress of my new play 'Greetings from the Trenches' and weren't able to see the two European Premiere shows at Jakobus Theatre in Karlsruhe I wanted to let you know how it all went.

Emma and I arrived separately in Karlsruhe on Wednesday 3rd December. Emma arrived by train via Cologne and I flew over from Stanstead airport arriving about half past four. We met up at Café Bleu opposite the theatre and Emma's first words were "I am soo glad to see you. I don't think I could have done it on my own!" With this being a two hander it is very unlikely either of could have performed it on our own. During our time there we had a tremendous amount of fun outside of the play as we both have a very silly sense of humour.

On the Wednesday we had an interview with Andreas Juttner of the big regional newspaper the - Badische Neueste Nachrichten and they published a nice big article with picture in the Friday morning edition.

Wednesday evening was spent collecting furniture for the show and working with our German technician Lennart on the few technical light and sound aspects of the show. Luckily his English is very good and he is proficient. Such professionalism is important when there is very little space for error and time for rehearsals.

In the daytime of Thursday Emma and I met up and enjoyed some relaxation at the Karlsruhe Christmas market along with a reasonable amount of mulled wine, flannkuchen and coffees and some very important shopping messing about in Primark.


The early evening found us back at the Jakobus theatre joining Lennart for a technical rehearsal before the actual show. All seemed in order as we worked through the play out of costume and we were both looking forward to the actual performance - only half an hour away! Just about time to get changed, take a breath and get downstairs into the wings.

Jutta Berendes did a welcoming speech to the audience, there was applause, and suddenly we got the chords of the opening music recorded on piano in Leiden Holland and the play began. It was good to play to an actual paying audience amongst which were some familiar faces from the Jakobus theatre and that of our translator Thorsten Feldmann. Later, in the following few days Thorsten explained why there more laughs on Thursday than on Friday. Apparently there was a much bigger audience membership of English speaking people on the first night and they were appreciating all the subtle humour in the text and the relationship between Frank and his daughter Madeleine. Emma's parents had also made the trip from Nottingham to see the show too!

Whilst I enjoyed all of the performance I guess that the piece I wanted to work the most was the end of the play where it is revealed to the audience that the two people on the stage actually died in a car crash before they had even reached the television studio. Given the reaction during the announcement at the very end I would say that it worked very well and I was glad that we decided to end with our backs to the audience holding hands in a cold blue light while the announcement played and a police light flashed on the stage.

The second night's audience was a quieter audience in terms of any laughter but very attentive at the same time and a nice big group from Theater Die Käuze came to watch as well as my friend Birgitta who had travelled all the way from Friedrichshafen to see the show with her friend Jutta. We hadn't seen each other for fourteen years to it was great to chat before the show in Café Bleu and catch up.

Overall, it was great to know that all the ideas, text, poems, German translations, songs and rehearsals had paid off and my first professional show was an artistic success. Hopefully we can repeat that success in Nottingham next year. Thank you to everyone who made the Karlsruhe shows a success and big thanks to my co-star Emma Brown for her enthusiasms, talent and relaxed approach and to Thorsten for all the translating work. Thanks too to all of the great people at the Jakobus Theatre, especially Carsten Thein and Markus Kunstler, for all your support along the way and during the weekend! Especial thanks to my hosts Gerd and Herrlich for giving a bed, a lovely breakfast, some beers and a chance to pay with and pat Fricker the friendly Alsatian!

Emma had to return to Leiden early on the Saturday morning and I remained in Karlsruhe until Monday morning. It was nice to be able to have a chance to relax after our performances and I spent some time with my friends Lena and Sacha and with my former hosts - the Corneli family.

See you soon Karlsruhe and Café Bleu!

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