Category Archives: travel

A Walk Through My Mind

Recently, I started taking long walks again. Coming out of the slough of despond can have that effect, and vice versa. And as I walked, I began to think. As as I thought, it seemed like a good idea to share some of my thoughts.

So last week, setting off from Crewe Toll towards Princes Street, in Edinburgh, I thought I would share what was on my mind as I was walking.. Siri obligingly opened my voice memo app, and the result is here for you to listen to. There is traffic, and breathlessness involved, so it’s all very ‘in the moment’ as we say in the biz.

There’s talk about theatre, and the weather, and I do apologise for the poor quality of the recording. Clearly this is going to be a steep learning curve.

As I mention in the recording, at the top of Dean’s Bridge, a rather interesting building can be seen. I still haven’t been able to ascertain if it’s a private house or not. Here it is.


On the Road

I arrived in Phoenix a week ago. The first few days were passed, as I suspected they would be, in a haze of exhausted relief.  My kind hosts took me with them to share in a family reunion on the first day, which involved lots of laughter, wine, beautiful food and a great sunset.

Scottsdale, Arizona

I am staying with friends in Gilbert, one of the outer cities that rings Phoenix. Public transport hasn’t made its way here yet. In fact, today I drove to where Google told me I would find a Light Rail Transit stop with Park and Ride facilities, only to discover that the rail hasn’t been extended this far yet.  The car park was there, and a bus stop, but quite a wait for anything else.

I have been placed in a little self-contained cottage in the back yard of the main house. It’s delightfully comfortable, and private.  A car has been placed at my disposal, and today I finally stopped wimping out and drove myself several miles to Mesa, the next city along the way to catch the light rail (what I would call a tram, but a very modern, fancy one) into downtown Phoenix. I got hopelessly lost, in spite of having Google maps printed out, AND my TomTom with local maps, but what the heck, I got there in the end.

Still haven’t seen what I would call downtown Phoenix. I appreciate it’s a lot like Houston, with its centre  a complex of businesses and offices. What I did find were 3 or 4 blocks with charming little cafes and art galleries scattered among car parks, waste ground, and blocks of apartments.  This is apparently the arty end of town, and where most of the Phoenix Fringe will happen.

Speaking of which, rehearsals are going well. My new company is shaping up beautifully, and I reckon this revised show will be a bit of a cracker – not better or worse than the last version, but different.

We had a look at our Fringe venue this afternoon, and it’s adorable. I’ll say more about that at a later date.

Tomorrow I’m running a free all-day intensive workshop on Archetypes. Looking forward to it immensely.

Catch ya later 🙂

A new career?

I mentioned in my last post that I had provided a voice-over for a colleague in Dunedin.  His name is Ian Chapman, and he is a musician, writer, lecturer and all round talented person with a spectacular Alter Ego called Dr Glam. Check out his website, and while there, you can click on the Music link and find the mp3 “Interstellar Overdrive” which also features  Sparkles (aka me). To my hyper-critical ear she sounds like the love-child of Kylie Minogue and Dame Edna Everage, but you can judge for yourself…

Dunedin – Seattle in miniature

This is my third visit to Dunedin, and on this occasion, having spent several months in Seattle last year, I am struck by the similarity between the two cities. Not only that, but whenever I mention it to a Dunedin local, they agree with me, because they all seem to visit Seattle on a regular basis!

View from Opoho

I can’t say exactly why it is, but it’s something to do with the geography of the place, the hills around, the Sound (long and thin in Dunedin, wide in Seattle), the mixture of residential and industrial, the docks at the heart of the city.  There’s also something about the easy way of the people, a smile as you pass on the street, helpful bus drivers. Today, waiting for a bus, a lovely woman actually stopped and offered me a lift down the hill.

I’ve had a glorious time here, three weeks in all. The first week I taught The Shakespeare Class, here at the University of Otago. That’s it. One class. BLISS!  The rest of the time, I slept, ate Suzanne’s glorious food, drank some fabulous New Zealand wines, read several chapters of The Life of Pi and watched some really crap television, courtesy of Foxtel. I think this qualifies as a holiday.

The second week was spent taking part in the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) National Shakespeare Schools Production week. This involved staying the week at the Otago Boys High School Hostel, sharing a dormitary block with some of the participants, which meant sharing a bathroom with a bunch of 17 and 18 year old young men (some of whom didn’t quite get the concept of privacy, as in shutting the toilet door when using it!).

But what a wonderful week it was. My job was to direct 15 of them in a condensed version of The Winter’s Tale, take a workshop, sit in on all their other activities, and be available to mentor and coach them the rest of the time. So basically, 6 1/2 days totally focussed on Shakespeare. What. A. Blast!!!

As well as glorious young New Zealanders passionate about Shakespeare, there was the ‘mystery tour’ arranged by the totally amazing Dawn Sanders, CEO of SGCNZ (as well as being fund-raiser, secretary, treasurer, tour coordinator, butt-kicker and chief cook and bottle-washer).

Dawn Sanders with the 3 directors for 2010, Damien, Sylvia and Flloyd
looking North
over the horizon - the South Pole!

Finally, today on my last day, I was invited to do a voice-over for a colleague in the music department at the University of Otago.  When the project is ready, I’ll post it for you to hear and enjoy.

"Only you can save us, Dr Glam!"

Dunkerhook Park in August

Just when I really should be getting down to writing my thesis, I thought I would check in my ‘to do’ folder on the desktop (as you do).  I discovered the sound files I recorded during a visit to Dunkerhook Park, just after the VASTA conference in New York, including my reflections on the process of rehearsing and presenting June Bloom at the conference.

Click on the link below, it will take you to a new window and play the podcast. You can then return to this page and look at the images while you listen.

Dunkerhook Park, Art Class Outing.

Day Out in Manhattan

Micha, Flloyd and John

Micha, Flloyd and John take a bow at the VASTA conference last month.

I’ll be posting about VASTA shortly, but in the meantime, especially for those of you who have never visited New York, here is a soundscape I recorded.

On the second last day of my latest trip, I needed to do some research for an article I was writing, and also wanted to attend a session of the ATHE (Association of Theatre in Higher Education) conference, which was being presented by my colleague from Los Angeles, the fabulous voice teacher and speech pathology expert Joanna Cazden.

I took the bus from Haworth, New Jersey, then the subway to 116th St, walked to Columbia University and picked up a visitor’s pass (courtesy of the mutual facilities arrangement with the University of Queensland) and had a most productive couple of hours in the Butler Library.

As I came out, I heard the sound of drumming in the quadrant, so I took out my digital voice recorder and began recording a soundscape of the rest of my journey, from Columbia campus on Morningside Heights to the New York Marriott Marquise Hotel in midtown Manhatten.

Along with the traffic, and general ambience of Manhatten, above and below ground, there is also the sound of people going about their business, and street musicians.  One of them, Steve McGookin, regularly performs in the New York Metro, and you can find out more about him, his music and his 48 days underground here.


The journey lasted about 45 minutes, but I’ve edited it down to around 12 mins. Enjoy.

waiting in LAX

Last leg of this trip is about to happen. I flew from Houston to LAX tonight, and the plane for Brisbane is due to leave here in about 1 1/2 hours.

My first visit to Texas was just fine.   Lyndsay was performing in two shows, both quite delightful.  The version of A Christmas Carol, adapted for young children, was performed by four actors, one playing Scrooge while the other three, as ‘ghosts’, provided all the other characters. It was sensitively adapted, true to the original with some gentle insertions of local and contemporary references.

A special treat was a session we had with some of Lyndsay’s actor colleagues, a three hour session working with Archetypes.  We only had time to introduce Hero, Child and Devil, but everyone responded very positively, and I was delighted to be able to share some of this process.

Today, Lyns took me to meet her colleagues at The Texas Repertory Theatre.  This is a remarkable company with its own venue, (a 260 seater pit arrangement) who provide quality theatre and musicals  throughout most of the year. They employ local actors, and actually, according to Artistic Director Craig, “survive on box office”. Now that’s remarkable! Lyndsay and Craig

And so, to Houston TX

After all the grim warnings about flying Continental, and Continental’s own grim warnings that there would be no meals served on the flight from Newark to Houston, the flight was smooth, the service friendly, and they served us pizza, baby carrots, m&ms and fresh coffee – all included in the service. I didn’t have a great view, but I did notice one very long river, flowing north/south, so I am going to assume it was the Mississippi.

Lyndsay met me at the airport, she hasn’t changed a bit. We drove to the Woodlands Mall, in an attempt to meet up with her mother, sister and nieces, had lunch at Panera Bread and a bit of a stroll around. The Mall is way out of town, in a pretty setting with lots of trees around, and a kind of moat, with a water taxi.

Lyndsay shares an apartment with another actor called Jennifer, and two cats. It’s upstairs, and if you didn’t know there was a downstairs, you would think it a house, rather than half a house (the top half). It’s very roomy, almost twice the size of Iain and Jessie’s place in Hoboken, with a verandah out the back overlooking the back garden/yard. I don’t think the girls do much gardening.

Lyndsay’s house, and carFlloyd and Lyns on the front porch

Last night, I saw “Mr Pim Passes By”, by A A Milne, at Main Street Theatre, ( with Lyns playing Anne, the maid. She hasn’t a lot to say, but is very much part of the family and a great presence. I loved the play, and the production. The performances were all excellent, I would even say classy. The play has a delicacy you don’t see these days, very funny, thoughtful, even moving. I was sitting next to Jim Johnson, the dialect coach for the production, (also teaches at Uni of Houston) and his son Levy. His wife, Carolyn, plays Olivia, a gorgeous portrayal of a gorgeous lady.

Lyns, Jim, Carolyn, Levy and I went for a meal after; there was much deliberation in the foyer as to where we should go, but when they realised I didn’t know what Fried Pickles were, the choice was simple. For the record, Fried Pickles are sliced dill pickles dipped in a light batter and deep fried, served with Ranch Dressing. We had them for starters, and boy they were yummy. Some Pollo Guape and a locally brewed Honey Blonde beer later, we headed home and crashed.

By the way, for those who haven’t been here, it is apparently quite normal for a beer to be served deliberately with no head. Cold, but headless. Interesting, eh?

 This morning, Sunday, breakfast was 2 eggs, sausage, french toast and coffee, $7.43. Not only reasonably priced, but so nice I nearly ate it all.

It’s raining now. A rainy day in Texas. And there is a bead shop round the corner…