Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the fire of images

Today was the second performance of Rappaccini's Daughter. I am amazed at how hard the students are working to build an audience. It's not easy work, and it's certainly not something they are used to having to do. All the same, it's impressive to see them up on the Royal Mile, posing for pictures, handing out fliers, and doing their thing. It's fun to watch them in action.

I stopped for a bit this morning at Gladstone's Land. It's an original house from the 1500's that hasn't changed much in 500 years. The floorboards still creak, the stairs are uneven and narrow, and the ceilings are high and painted with flowers and fruit. I think houses like this are fascinating. I know it's hard to trust how accurate they really are, but I easily suspend my disbelief. I try to imagine people living and working in these rooms. I wonder if, in 500 years, people will be traipsing through my 1970's split-level in Edgemont. If so, I hope they let people take pictures. Also, I hope you will still be able to see Hugh's autograph on his bedroom door, a piece of in-house vandalism too cute to wipe off.

I also stopped by the Edinburgh writer's museum, but it was mostly to get out of the rain. This museum is free, which is always a bad sign. It was nice inside, and I liked the displays, but I wasn't overwhelmed by it. Edinbugh is famous for three writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. They were amazing writers, and the people of Edinburgh are very proud of them.

This afternoon the students took a much needed break from their barking and we set off for Holyrood Castle. Holyrood is most famous for being the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth, the one who is still on the throne, still uses this palace for Royal events. It's a pretty impressive place. My favorite room, of course, is the chamber where Mary's lover, David Rizzio, was stabbed 56 times to death in 1566. His blood stained the wooden floor, and it remains stained to this day! You can kind of see the redness of the blood in this picture:

Outside the castle is a medieval abbey. It was here that King James I was crowned. The English burned most of the abbey down, but these ruins remain. And they're pretty fantastic:

Tonight I ran into Daniel on the Royal Mile and we set out for dinner at Nando's. Nando's was about 20 minutes away from where we were, but crushed ice and refillable Coke Zero's are worth walking twice that far. Also, lemon and herb chicken. Neither of us regretted our decision. Following dinner we grabbed a cab and went to Leith for a performance of Tabu.

What can I say about Tabu? It basically blew my mind. Presented by the nofitstate performance company of Wales, Tabu is basically a postmodern circus. The audience is huddled under a big top, and the performers swing on trapezes and walk tightropes just feet above your head. A live band plays rock music, featuring various saxophones. The performers take turns on the vocals. They sing songs about buses being late. A plump young lady called out "lema-lema-lema-lema-lemonade!" and then shot people in the head with an origami bird. They spun fire wheels, they bounced on giant trampolines, and they performed death defying acts with such beauty and innovation; it was really one of the most inspiring things I've seen. Some of the pieces were honestly moving. Others were funny. But they were all incredibly difficult, yet polished. I was completely blown away. Are all circuses like this? I need to get out more.