EsL in a storm, then a castle

This past weekend we had two of our most difficult ever get-ins of  “Et si Léonard…”, and one of our weirdest, and then one of our best ever performances…

On Saturday we had our first ever outdoor performance at Pavillon des Indes, Parc de Bécon, 92400 Courbevoie.  Stormy weather was due, and we discovered the tent we’d been allocated had recently collapsed, so we quickly negotiated a small marquee – essential for András Vigh’s hurdy-gurdy.

A low stage had been built for us, oriented exactly as I’d specified, but not made horizontal, so I needed to check that my machine would work on what turned out to be about a 7cm drop from one side to the other.  It did seem to.

getting EsL into Pavillon des Indes

Later it rained again, and we tidied the set away under the little marquee. As the rain was already falling, I decided to leave part of the set in place, covered by a tarpaulin.  We admired our blue-tarpaulin work, which looked quite pretty, then we dispersed to various other preparation activities.  I turned my back on the set, and there was a sudden gust of wind, just like in the Wizard of Oz.  I turned quickly, and saw what I’d left of the set being blown over (the tarpaulin acting like a sail, of course) and crashing, in pieces against the railings…

I managed to quickly patch it back together strong enough for the show, which was a truly weird occasion.  The energy on the set seemed to be going in all directions, things were falling over as we moved our own weight around the stage, we all had to shout to be heard, the sun shone hot, illuminating half the stage.  I felt a long way away from the audience, and half expected another gust of wind to blow us all away for good.

When we’d done, we received the usual happy applause, and enthusiastic personal thanks from many people, so it’d clearly worked.  Then dark clouds, so we scrambled to get the set under cover, and just as we did, a storm.  Even under the marquee we were drenched as we held the tarps down against the wind.

In the evening I unloaded costumes, tarps, curtains, tool bags, and parts of the set to dry off through the night in front of electric heaters in my tiny accomodation, while I lay trying to sleep, drenched in sweat…

The following morning, we were at Château de Saint Brisson sur Loire, where we got in up ancient staircases into a small performance space, with a huge twisty concrete beam running across the centre at about 270cm – exactly the height of the assembled set, but giving no leeway to swing the arcs into place.  I figured out a safe way to partially dismantle three arcs so that they could slide into place horizontally, then I needed two hours to retune string lengths.  So much of the machine depends on strings being the right length to within a few millimetres, and I’d offset them to accomodate Saturday’s non-horizontal stage (and lost some in the storm).

EsL at Château de St Brisson sur Loire

By the time we were ready for the audience, I was moving slowly, preserving my energy.  We began, and immediately we were giving our best performance ever.  It was quite extraordinary, and completely unpredictable.

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