Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Play-off/06: the village


Sunrise over Portugal. Flight São Paulo - Paris.

This is an English version of a post originally written in Portuguese.

Our trip started on Sunday, in São Paulo. The flight to Paris would leave at 4:30 P.M. We all met at Guarulhos International Airport (São Paulo) and waited until boarding time. We arrived early and we had a lot of free time. Enough time for Ricardo to sit on a luggage car, slip and fall, and for Aninha to get lost in the airport. But, in the end, Ricardo was back alive and well, and Aninha finally was finally found, so we all boarded with no other problems.


A row in the Air France Boeing 777: Ricardo, Aninha and Peterson; Luís and Wanderley (window); Teka (window), Ana Pereira and me. The other three: Fabiana, Andressa e Maria were in another row in the plane.

I think most of us did not sleep during the flight to Paris (those who were near me certainly did not). When we arrived at the immense Charles de Gaulle airport, we had to get a bus to change terminals, we lost time waiting in the wrong line, we got incorrect information more than once and we only boarded the flight to Düsseldorf on the last minute. The flight lasted about an hour. André Wülfing other people from Play-off/06 were waiting for us at the airport. All arrived well except Ricardo's backpack (it certainly was not his lucky day), which prefered to stay in Paris. But, it was recovered and sent to our camp by the end of the day. We shared the bus with the actors from Togo and arrived at the camp in early afternoon. It was cold.


Antje. Foto: Play-off/06
As soon as we arrived, we were received by an exotic looking girl in red hair and taken to our new residence in Germany. It was a village made of several little canvas houses (tents), build around two castles (big tents). The castle which had coloured walls was a meeting place open to all inhabitants of the tented village. The red castle was governed by queen Antje, the girl whose hair had the colour of her tent (but it became brighter during the week). She was always rushing from her castle to some other part of the village. She had a sherriff's badge, and several pockets and gadgets hanging from her stylish belt, and was usually seen with a mobile on her ear while making notes at the same time. She would visit each house in the village in order to know if everything was OK, and if anything was missing. She would wake up the sleepy ones so they would not lose their bus, and keep track of all events, plays, parties and feasts. When she wasn't there, for some reason (did she sleep?), or when there was too much work, André would appear out of nowhere to bring us some important news like "your bus is leaving now, so hurry!"


The Consolidation coal mine and the international tented village
Photo: Play-off/06


The village was set up beside a former coal mine. On one side there were two other buildings where the theatres were located. On the other side there was a park. Beside the tower, bathrooms and showers were installed. At the camp's entrance there was a kitchen (another big tent) where we ate lunch, breakfast, dinner, and partied all night. It was the main meeting point of the camp and right beside the coloured tent.


Little canvas houses. Photo: Ricardo Socalschi.

The little houses were spacious and confortable (ok, they were a bit too cold or too hot, depending on the weather). They had a solid floor and five mats each. We were eleven and we used two little houses. Besides ourselves, the tents were already inhabited by other creatures, so called "spiders", of several species and sizes, and German, I believe. Us humans and them spiders had no problems sharing that space and lived together in peace during the two weeks (not considering some eventual accidents due to incompatibility of size and weight). Between the houses there was a place where we hung our flag. But it didn't last long. Someone liked it and took it away, but we got another one later.

When we arrived it was very cold. Freezing. To make things worse, we were informed, by Antje, that there would be no warm showers for the boys, since there was a problem in the heating system, and it would take a few days to fix. Great news after a long plane trip. The girls had hot water. After a while Antje came with a solution: we could use the theater's shower, but me Luís e Ricardo, the brave ones, had already decided to face the cold shower (based on a theory of mine that the coldness was psychological and that we would get used to the cold water in a few minutes), and so we did. The water was not cold as I had thought it was. It was nearly freezing! Every single drop that hit the skin felt like a whipping. My theory was proven false, but after I left the shower I felt like I was in heaven. Everything becomes beautiful. It's like a trip. It's like being in Nirvana.


Sunny evenings and lively nights Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck. Photo: Ricardo Socalschi.

At night, we would all get together around the tables near the kitchen or under the coloured tent and stay awake until late, or until dawn. The symposium* mixed voices in several languages, French wine and German beer. Oh, and what about getting some sleep? Sleep? What's that? Well, it wasn't easy. First, the nights at Northern latitudes are longer in summer, so the Sun would set around 10 P.M. and at eleven, the sky was still not dark. Midnight came very early. Second, morning comes back very early and during the hotter days, it's impossible to bear the heat inside the tent. Third, during the days of our plays André would be at the camp early to make sure we would be awake to get the bus at 7:30. But that's not the main reason many of us would stay awake. We stayed awake because, although we were sleepy, we didn't feel like sleeping since too many interesting people were also still awake.

But on the first night, I think I got some sleep. The party was not in the village. It was in Essen. I will tell that story in my next post.

There are many other pictures at the Play-off/06 site, the Play-off/06 group in Flickr and Benjamin Stöß's Yeeeha site.

* Symposium = from the Greek, means together (sym) + drink (potere). Don't confuse with potere in Latin, which means power. The most famous symposium was one that happened long ago when Plato and his friends gathered together to drink and to philosophize about love. Never heard of it? Read the book: The Symposium, by Plato.

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