In 2 weeks time I shall be heading to the refugee camps in Greece with StiltsPRO for 10 days to deliver theatre, entertainment and workshops to the children out there. I am incredibly excited to be a part of this project and have no idea what I will experience whilst out there.
I hope to try and write something each day to update you all with what is happening and to also keep in practice of writing seeing as I don’t do much.
ABOUT THE PROJECT AND STILTSPRO!
StitsPRO is a stilt-walking theatre company formed of students from East 15 Acting School which I have just graduated from. As a company we seek to reach UK and worldwide audiences that need theatre the most. We will accomplish this by offering entertainment services for events, and street-theatre advertising solutions for businesses to fund our theatrical endeavours.
Our goal for Greece is to take a full-scale workshop and performance to the refugee camp, helping to enhance the lives of those living there through the arts. As a company we are networking with the very experienced Flying Seagull Project, who are keen to help us achieve our goal of creating full-scale performances for people in need and currently refugee camps in Europe.
Firstly apologies for not updating you all since Thursday. It appears that my phone provider are actually crap so I had no service and very limited access to wifi so was unable to post anything until now!
Well what an incredible 10 days it has been. So many emotions!
On Thursday before heading to Ioannina we had one last performance with the seagulls Wolfy, Yahoo, Beckie and Bridget where we did parachute games which the children loved. We all had a €1 falafel wrap to fuel us for the journey. I also tried a Freddo cappuccino with the full amount of coffee and actually liked it! #CoffeeLoverInTheMaking.
It took us about 6 hours to get to Ioannina and upon our arrival our new Flying Seagull friends had cooked an incredibly yummy buffet dinner consisting of Greek salads and an amazing tzatziki! The view from the Seagull house was absolutely incredible, so tranquil and secluded. We were literally in the middle of no where, it was gorgeous.
We were briefed about the following 3 days to come which made us all incredibly excited and we got told we were going to be taken swimming which I couldn’t wait for!
On Friday I woke to the sounds of the puppies (yes, the seagull house had somehow accumulated puppies by accident and they were full of cuteness).
Some of us also did a 20 minute workout which was ace – I realised how unfit I am..I also had an English cuppa with my breakie and this made me incredibly happy seeing as little miss teapot here hadn’t had one for nearly a week – I was in fact having withdrawal symptoms.
We went to two different camps on Friday, one of which twice. The seagulls had erected a Big Top tent at one so when they went for the sessions, both them and the children had somewhere outside in the shade. To celebrate the new Big Top tent we threw a party in the evening for the children which they all absolutely loved. They took over the sound system within the first 20 minutes and Lauren and Sophie somehow got the kids lining up to do limbo! I had a sudden moment during the party where I felt so overwhelmed with everything that we were doing. The children were so happy from just a simple set up of games and music, something we’re used to. Seeing them having fun and letting off steam was such an awesome thing to witness.
Sadly Liam, Laura, Charley and Maria headed home on Saturday, so Friday evening we were introduced to the Flying Seagull circle of praise. I’m just going to leave that there..
On Saturday we went to a camp that hadn’t had any Flying Seagull interaction since new families had arrived, so there was total excitement when we arrived. We did a shorter session out in the direct sun so it was extremely hot! The second camp we went to had the treat of learning trapeze and stilts. The children’s faces when seeing the trapeze was amazing, I was so excited for them I nearly face planted the floor from my stilts! How I managed to save myself I have no idea (Thank you Aida!).
We finally got to go swimming in a mountain river which was gorgeous! We climbed up to the waterfall plunge pool too which was incredible! The water was fresh mountain water so was slightly chilly but it was so hot you hardly noticed.
We headed to the final camp of the day where we did a juggling workshop with the kids = CHAOS! but they loved it and that’s all that matters. We stopped off at a shop for some food supplies and I ended up buying a packet of Cheetos with the free tattoo in it as you can’t seem to buy them in the UK anymore and I was feeling like a big kid. I also had a white kinder bueno which felt like such a luxury
We stopped off for a drink at a bar overlooking the lake which was lovely as the sun began to set. Saturday was also the day my stomach decided to go awol..those of you who know me will understand hahaha…
EGG SUNDAY! Our final day in Greece. Yes egg Sunday means eggs for breakiee and they were bloody lush. The first camp of the day was filled with the fun of a bouncy castle – it was full on! Sectioning the children into different age groups to try and keep some form of safety was a challenge, but yet again the kids loved it and it gave us all a workout!
When you think of Greece you think its just sunny 24/7, well…we had a massive storm with thunder and lightening and therefore we did cinema at the second camp and watched Kung Fu Panda 2 in Arabic..that was interesting hahaa. This camp is the one I will remember the most because of some of the children there and because of the amount of time we spent there.
We went to the final camp of the day and the trip and the kids were so interactive and focused with the juggling and other games it was brilliant. Such a good session to end on.
One of the new volunteers Marco had arrived when we got back and he’d been cycling for 5 days from Italy to get to Ioannina! Dedication or what?!
The storm was still going on into the evening, the thunder was soooo loud. Our final dinner was fajitas with halloumi, need I say more?! We once again did the praise circle and so many lovely things were said about each other and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go on this trip – Thank you to our fearless leader Piotr for actually seeing this trip through, its been incredible.
Sunday’s in the Flying Seagull house is also known as “piss up Sunday” so it got to 3.10am and we ended up jamming in the kitchen and deciding to do acro..after a whole bottle of wine my face says it all..I look like something out of Chicken Run.
Monday was flying home day and we didn’t rise until 1pm, oops! We had a 3 hour drive to the airport from Ioannina and once there I ended up purchasing the crappiest most overpriced sausage roll ever – never again hahaa.
Now I’m back home, back to work and reality. This trip has made me appreciate absolutely everything and I am seriously so thankful to have been a part of this trip and those children’s lives for a week. Thank you to the Flying Seagulls for having us, both in Athens and Ioannina – I’m sure our paths will cross again sometime soon.
Today we are leaving Athens and heading for the refugee camps in Ioannina! We have one more performance to do here in Athens then we have a 5 hour drive to our new location for the final 4 nights. We’ve had a lovely few days performing with some lovely members of The flying seagull project for children in the squats and slums around Athens, it’s definitely been eye opening.
Yesterday we had 3 performances, 2 of which were different locations to the first day. The first one was quite small and very hot! We had a child who didn’t speak but he got involved and enjoyed himself nonetheless.
When doing this kind of work energy is a key factor and when it’s so hot and you haven’t got much access to water when on a job it’s sometimes incredibly hard to push through, especially when you’re in a costume that covers your whole body, but it’s a small price to pay.
We did a game called Magic box with the children at the first 2 locations today – an imaginary box that they take something out of, so like an improvisation game. At the second location some of the parents even got involved which was really nice to see. At The last 2 locations we got on our stilts and danced, the children loved it! The last location was a public area so it was absolutely heaving and there were people everywhere! We all felt like celebrities leaving one of their concerts at the end as we had to make a very swift exit!
Excited to see what the last few days of this trip bring, I can’t really sum up my emotions yet, but seeing children so happy and excited on our arrival is one of the most heartwarming things and as Sophie says:
Lauren and Laura joined us at the apartment and we made a homemade Greek salad before heading out into Athens which was lovely.
We ventured out into the afternoon heat, I have no idea how hot it was but I was certainly melting! We walked up by the Acropolis and got some group photos, we did want to walk up to the actual Acropolis but it was €20 each and we decided that was €20 we could spend on alcohol..after some photos we headed back down into Athens where we had a drink at a cafe where I ended up having a nap!! The girl who could once deal with heat was certainly struggling! We then headed back to the apartment before heading out to meet the Flying Seagull team who we are working with for the next 3 days, 2 of which happen to be East15 graduates, one being a Worldie and the other a physie, What a small world!
They are all so lovely and genuine and are full of energy and it’s been great working with them today (Tuesday 11th July).
This morning Liam and Sophie cooked breakiee again and managed to find some vanilla filled pastry thing which was delicious and Liam made something with potatoes, egg, onions and mushrooms which was also delicous! It should have had bacon in it but with so many veggies in the group it was easier to take it out.
We also found our first COCKROACH today!! Well, Liam and Sophie did haha, it was placed in a bag and disposed of outside.
Myself, lauren, Sophie and Aida went costume hunting this morning which was successful, we now have colourful shorts and stripy tops!
We met up with the lovely Kiara on our way to our first performance which was for refugees squatting in a hotel which they have taken over. The children were so excited when we arrived, their faces lit up and they all loved the show. Some get distracted easily and some just want to sit on your lap and hug you constantly which is difficult as for safeguarding reasons we can’t allow them to do it, we have to acknowledge it then get them to carry on watching. It’s somewhat sad that that’s all some of them want, some attention and love.
Seeing the faces of the parents seeing their children enjoying themselves is also so uplifting. What these families have been through is so tragic and us providing some fun and entertainment for the children for just an hour really makes a difference to their day.
Kiara took me to a phone shop and we managed to solve the problem as to why I have no service – thank you 3 for not enabling my phone to be used abroad!! Hopefully all should be sorted now.
We made another homemade Greek salad which was again lovely and I ended up having a siesta on the floor! When did I suddenly become a person who naps?! We then got ready for our second performance which was for refugees who are squaring in what was once possibly a school. Again as we entered the children were ecstatic. They’re used to the other Flying Seagull members going in on a daily basis so when they saw them their faces lit up and they came running over for hugs and high fives. They all loved getting involved in the games and you could sense that when it was time for us to leave they didn’t want us to go. We will see them all again tomorrow for more games and fun.
This evening kiaras mum got us some lovely ice creams which were lush! Aida cooked dinner and now Liam is dishing out massages!
Today has been so rewarding and we get to do it all over again tomorrow!
On Saturday 8th July I was driven to Stansted airport to meet up with the rest of the StiltsPRO team. We had a little while to wait for our check in time which seemed to take forever. Once checked in we downed a bottle of polish vodka before heading through security. Obviously I set the metal detector off due to the amount of piercings I have in my ears, but the scanner also detected metal in my knees..I haven’t had my knees replaced yet hmmm haha. My bag also set something off in the convierbelt and the security staff had a right giggle looking through my bag to find my packed lunch for when we got to Turkey.
Once through security we had an hours wait until the flight. Myself and Sophie decided to get a Burger King to keep us going, I was starting to flag by this point and thought Burger King at 11pm was most amazing idea..
We finally got called to the gate and then we had to wait again to board the plane, making our leaving time slightly later. Whilst waiting we befriended a Greek guy called Alex who happened to study an MA at RADA and knows someone who was in a show with Sophie and Lauren last week, what are the odds?!
We got onto the plane and I felt like a kiddie at Christmas, having not flown for 10 years the feeling of take off was awesome! I forgot how exhilarating it is and the feeling of your tummy turning as you go up. I started to drift off to sleep when suddenly I looked round to see that Elliot had been sick all over himself! Damn all that polish vodka and duty free rum..I that I was going to add to the vomit but luckily as he sorted himself out I fell back to sleep but couldn’t get comfortable.
When approaching Instanbul I saw the sun rising over the sea and it was incredibly beautiful. Orange/pink reflecting off of the water, it looked like the opening of the Lion King.
Sunday 9th July – we arrived in Instanbul for a 10 hour wait..yes, the things you do to get cheaper flights (£500 off per person in fact!) we had to wait until 16.25pm their time for our connecting flight to Athens. It was a very loongggggg dull wait, duty free wasn’t massive and I’d spotted a pair of minion Havaianas for €15 which in the end I didn’t buy and am now somewhat regretting. My phone had no service and the ‘free wifi’ wasn’t in fact free so I was phone less! Shock horror hahhaa but I coped, not a bad thing for me really!
Instead of the Havaianas I got a Victoria Secret body spray for €3.50, bargain if you ask me and will most likely come in handy! I sat watching the planes take off and land and got frustrated with the constant Turkish airport tannoy which was then repeated in English. It was only 10.30am at that point so we still had 5 hours and 25mins to go.
So, that Burger King that I thought was the most amazing idea..I ended up having acid reflux from hell and felt like I was going to vomit and I stupidly left my heartburn tablets in my hold luggage. Luckily we have Liam with us who is yoga and natural remedies guru and he gave me some yoga moves to do to help relieve it slightly. We finally got on the plane to Athens at 16.25.
I still have no phone service but there is wifi in the apartment, my phone just obviously doesn’t like being abroad hahaa. On our arrival into Athens the lady who’s apartment we’re staying in met us and gave us directions for the metro! So I can now say I’ve travelled by Greek metro, was certainly interesting with all of our stilts!
Once out of the metro we had to walk 3 blocks (streets basically, we’re not in New York) to the apartment, outside of which looks a bit daunting, but inside is cosy and comfortable.
We ventured out for some dinner, I had Giros, so basically a Greek kebab – I was stuffed! We also got made to have ouzo..blergh too much like sambucca for me. Finally got back to the room for a well earned sleep.
This morning (Monday 10th July) I woke up to the smell of coffee and breakfast courteousy of Liam and Sophie who had been up a lot earlier than the rest of us and went got food supplies! Liam also whacked out his natural remedy of turmeric water to help my stomach..hmm hahaa bearable but not the best thing ever. Lauren and Laura have now arrived and we are getting ready to head out and explore for the day!
Today I head out to Greece for 10 days alongside some of my other StiltsPRO colleagues. This trip has been in the pipeline for about a year and I can’t believe that its actually happening! I’m feeling a mixture of emotions at the moment as I sit here with a cup of tea munching on biscuits and watching Game Of Thrones prior to leaving for the airport in a couple of hours. I’m feeling super excited (partly due to the fact that I haven’t been on a plane or abroad for 10 years!!), but also nervous as I have no idea what to expect when we get out there.
I also feel very proud of my packing skills, as those of you who know me..I don’t do ‘light packing’ very well, but this trip has forced me to do so with a luggage weight limit of 20kg including our stilts! I probably still have more than enough, but my whole rucksack is under the limit so i’m happy!
I have an amply supply of suncream and after sun seeing as its supposedly meant to get up to temperatures of 37 next week and I even have a cap! I feel like a 10 year old again.
I’ve checked about 50 times to make sure I’ve packed my passport and euros, yes Emily, they’re in the bag! I have every intention to ask for a stamp at immigration, I may as well go the whole hog and be a full on English tourist and jazz my passport up a bit seeing as I’ve had it for 3 years and this is the first time its being used.
I still can’t believe that in approx 8 and a half hours we’ll be taking off to head to Greece, I guess all that’s left to say is that i’ll try and update this as and when I can and I’ll see you all on the other side!
They usually say the second night of a show is a bit of a let down as you’ve managed to get through opening night and then the energy drops, but NOT for the cast of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert this evening! The sold out audience absolutely loved the show this evening and the atmosphere that was created between the cast and the audience was one that left me feeling emotional! (Yes, I am a silly soppy so I apologise). The moment the 4 Diva’s entered the stage I felt a whoosh of energy and the theatre was filled with joy and excitement.
People were singing along and dancing in their seats from the off and there were many whoops and rapturous applause’ after all the musical numbers.
Musical Director Nat Amour said this evening that she actually had a tear in her eye during the finale of the show as the whole audience were singing and clapping along with the cast, she just feels so proud of everyone for pulling off this incredible show.
I have only been present at rehearsals and the shows since Sunday and since then this show has come on a tremendous amount and I thought it was brilliant 5 days ago! The pride the production team are feeling from the success of this show so far is so heartwarming and the whole cast and company are literally like one big theatre family and the love and support for each other is so nice to see. I feel so welcomed by everyone even though I most likely just get in the way (apologies to all the girls in the girls dressing room!) and am only selling programmes (in a very tall way..).
I can honestly say that I prefer to be up on the stage, but watching and seeing a show progress is also something I’m beginning to love! I think I feel as much pride as the rest of the production team over the success of this show and I haven’t done anything to contribute to it being the way it is. I am so proud of each and every one of you Priscilla cast – keep getting more extravagant and wowing the audiences – tomorrow night i’m actually watching properly with the ticket I brought months ago and I can say that I’ll be dancing and singing along again for sure, roll on night 3!
Currently sat watching the final run of A Chocolate Theatre’s Priscilla Queen Of The Desert which opens tomorrow evening at Swindon Arts Centre!
It’s all come together and is looking and sounding AMAZING! The cast are full of energy and sass and it’s not one to be missed!
“Based on the Oscar-winning movie, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT the Musical is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of.”
There are only a few tickets available for tomorrow evenings show as the rest of the week is sold out, so grab them while you can and come and have a fun filled evening full of feel good songs and humour!
Today was Get In day for A Chocolate Theatre Company at Swindon Arts Centre for their production of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert directed by Mikayla Ballard-Kearns. It is running from Wednesday – Saturday this week and it’s going to be insane! I watched this afternoons rehearsals and the singing is sounding absolutely awesome with amazing harmonies coming from the 4 Diva’s; Louise Van Der Watt, Lisa Aust, Mairi-Claire and Rhiannon Eve Lewis as well as the 3 leading men themselves; Steve Huggins, Ryan Nash (Boo Gatti) and Andrew Johnson.
As I am unfortunately not performing in this one, I am happy to now be part of the team selling programmes in a fairly Priscilla like way! (You have to attend to find out exactly what I mean).