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Poets’ Corner in Austria – Day 3

Austrian Corner

Today was the day of the performances. We had planned to get up early and go on a cable car to the top of a mountain overlooking Innsbruck but it was too misty.

The actors slept in whilst the crew went for a budget meeting with Andrew, Hazel and the Austro-British society secretary Gurter. Everything was in order and the best thing that came from it was an offer to perform a new show there next year. Better get writing.

The first matinee was at 2:30pm. The actors came in and we got ourselves ready. The audience coming were mostly from schools around the area (although one school was travelling 80 miles to watch) who were all doing homework assignments about the play. There were also University students from the English course and Cultural Studies course who had to see the show for their seminars. Andrew showed me worksheets and lesson plans that had been based around the play for these institutions, which was very odd to see. There was even an A3 sheet with extracts from the play on it that students had to answer questions on, and some University essay questions which included “How good is Jane’s poetry?” amongst others (Rachel wrote one of the poems that she recites in the script, which made this question fun for us).

Everyone steps into character for the last time

The performance went very well. The audience ranged from 15/16 year olds happy to be out of school but not so happy to be seeing a play in another language to old people on a day out. It took about 20 minutes for the audience to warm to the show and adjust to the language, but after that they started laughing and enjoying it. It’s very nice to see your play being enjoyed by a foreign audience. The new additions since the Fringe worked as well, with one particular moment of the poets eating Austrian biscuits going down well.

Jimmy-and-Austroway

After the first show we had some time. Some of the girls chose to go shopping whilst some went on a short tour of Innsbruck with Hazel. We passed through all the famous sites including the golden roof, the palace and an amazing church. There was time for one more traditional Austrian dish (they either roll things into balls or flatten them completely) before the evening performance.

We all agreed this was the best performance we had ever done, even better than any Fringe one. The whole place sold out, including the balcony, and so we had 220 Austrian eyes on us. Also the people who had funded the whole trip were in, so there was pressure. The cast were brilliant though. The play sparkled and the language barrier didn’t seem to mean anything. The Shakespeare-twat line received raucous laughter from students who agreed, Blake’s 5 minute rant about his wife got applause and at the end they clapped so much the cast had to come back on for a second bow after standing in the wings for over a minute. It was the performance we’d come to give and was a fantastic way to finally end the run.

And did those feet…

And suddenly it was over. We took down the set and sat on the stage with bottles of wine. We signed all the plaques and gave them to the various members of the Austro-British society who had helped us so much. Handing them over was a kind of purgatory. They had been with us since the 2008 October run. Emma, Rachel, Jimmy and Rob had been part of the show since then and so handing them over was an admission that we wouldn’t perform it again. It had been over a year and had been shown in 4 different cities, but it had finished its run.

S7302384Celebratory drinking took place in an Austrian bierekeller. There were litre glasses of beer handed around the cast and we sang British songs (including a rousing performance of Jerusalem) and toasted each other until we they closed. Then some went home but others went to some underground Austrian club, the memories of which are very hazy. All I remember is Tom Holloway canoeing across the dance floor – a move that has to be seen to be believed.

All that was left was a very early 5am wakeup and stumble drunkenly onto a train for the airport to return to England. Austria has been a wonderful and weird experience that has been a great end to the production. We were really lucky to have had the experience and I think it’s something we’ll all remember in years to come as a unique event. It definitely made me realise that this is exactly what I want to spend my life doing. My thanks to everyone who helped and made it possible.

To next year.