Dogs on the road – part VIII

The crew make their way from our nation’s capital up the East Coast in Dogs on the road – part VIII. Image: Canberra storm, complete with rainbow.

Seven glorious nights in our nation’s capital brought us fine sunny weather, a five night season at the utterly gorgeous The Street theatre, visits from Sydney family and friends, some delectable Thai and Indian cuisine, and four reviews of the show. We had a terrific time in our massive apartment complete with gigantic spa bath and city views.

On arrival it was cold, rainy and smelled of snow in the distant hills – but day two brought sunshine and warmth. We seem to have had the sun follow us everywhere, for which we’re all extremely grateful. As mentioned in the last blog, arrival also took us to a Thai restaurant with specials of the day including roast duck with tamarind sauce, pork belly with chilli jam and tofu with greens in an amazing piquant sauce. And I had to go back for more a few days later. My costume seems to be getting smaller each day, but Brad says it’s the cold weather, and that clothes actually shrink in the cold – which makes sense, so I’ll stop worrying about it and wait to see what the warmth of North Queensland offers in terms of dress sizes.

Dogs of Canberra

Dogs of Canberra

Caroline Stacey who programs The Street Theatre is one of the reasons we’re on tour in the first place. Through the maze of steps which sees shows getting voted in through the long term Cyberpaddock process, sustained votes from The Street across three rounds of voting are what helped get Highway of Lost Hearts across the line. Caroline said she had always wanted an NT work, and Highway seemed like a good fit. And I’m incredibly grateful for that, because these five shows were filled with terrific audiences who are clearly used to seeing a lot of live theatre, and who came unconditionally with us on the journey every single night.

Like Geelong – where we also had five shows in a row – it’s odd what this does to your body and psychology. I need a two hour nap every afternoon before the show, otherwise I can feel a bit flat. So mornings for me were spent delivering workshops to local writers, then a quick lunch and then sleep lockdown from around 2-4, followed by a shower, then to the theatre for an 80 minute warmup, half hour for makeup, and then we’re on! The Street writing program is awesome, it’s been sustained by Caroline for five years now, she gets dramaturg Peter Matheson to work with local writers every year to develop their works, and as a collective they have some fascinating and unique playwriting voices and concepts. It was terrific working with these writers for a bit, and I can’t wait to see their works produced down the track.

…having said that, there was one day that I wasn’t booked to deliver workshops, so Damo and I hit the Canberra op-shops: where he scored several tennis racquets and I picked up a whole lot of stuff I don’t need and have nowhere to store, given I sold my Darwin house during this tour. Lucky I’ve got a big storage unit booked!

Post show is generally spent chatting to folks in the foyer for up to an hour, then we all set off for a late dinner, DVD, and – in Canberra’s case – Brad arrived to take over from Damien for the rest of the tour, so we all spent one night in a local pub, playing pool and chatting to some of the locals plus a guy from the Netherlands who was in town for one night only, and he’d come to see the show! That was pretty cool. He ended up joining us for pool, then toddled next door to stay at the backpackers for the night.

Pie face

Aimee and Brad’s pie faces

Bob Dylan played Canberra on Friday night, and my sister Sarah and her partner Geoff drove from Burrill Lake for that and then to see the Highway of Lost Hearts show on Saturday night, as did my gorgeous niece Tess, and nephew Alex, both driving from Sydney with their partners – so I got in one glorious Saturday morning and lunch in with my family, followed by a late dinner, and then Sunday breakfast with them to boot. Plus Ben and Waimei – lovely mates from old Darwin days – came all the way from Sydney to see the show as well, and wallowed on into the night until it turned well into morning. It was just awesome. It made me feel really homesick when we had to take off on Sunday midday, and that pull of family and friends felt really strong. I just wanted to jump in their cars, or take them all in our van, and head off together. This is the first time I have felt really homesick for Darwin, and I guess the family / friend ties, the love and pull of Darwin’s gorgeous community and being on the road for so long have combined to throw me up into the air a bit. This tour has been amazing, and I have learned so much. But my Darwin home calls louder with every kilometre, and part of me is relieved that we’re nearing the end of this extraordinary journey.

Little dog, Tequila

Little dog, Tequila

Canberra also gave us our first reviews, each of them gorgeous and different and illuminating different aspects of the work. It’s been terrific to get a national perspective amongst them, which the first link is – and a credit to the whole Highway of Lost Hearts key creative team of director/dramaturg Lee Lewis, dramaturg Peter Matheson, sound designer Panos Couros, lighting designer Sean Pardy and set designer Kris Bird.

Canberra Critics Circle

City News

Lip Mag

Canberra Times

We’re off to regional NSW next – a bit of a full on week with four shows in a row, every day also involving driving, bump-in and bump-out. So big days ahead.

Love to all, from this extraordinary Highway adventure.

X Mary Anne