“Bums on Seats” and Other Things Adults Say.

The Ring of Kerry, In A Tiny Town with Three Different Spellings, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

ireland2

Two and a half months. That’s when I last posted, so be warned – it’s probably a long post. You might mistake it for a novel (if I’m lucky)! The above picture is from when my twin and Dad visited in November.

The Neolithic conception of the sunrise and sunset. Think of Newgrange (or Stonehenge). Our assignment was to think of how we would “interpret” this for an audience at a museum and to discuss it in class the following week. As the lecturer pointed out, you have to interpret everything, not just pass along information to people, because otherwise–who cares, really? A point just as important as some of our lecturers’ seemingly favorite phrase “Bums on seats”, meaning ticket sales are needed or else you can’t fund what you want, no matter what type of art it is. (We also have lecturer who adores saying “Between these four walls”, which is now our class’s catch phrase when something is supposed to be a “secret”).

Sitting outside of a cafe the day before (about two months ago now), the six or so of us decided that we would do a sort of interpretive dance, instead of just throwing out our ideas in class. Eurovision 1994 (Riverdance) was one of our main inspirations. The next week was when we performed our three-minute sketch, much to everyone else’s entertainment. A classmate prefaced our dance with a short explanation, and then she controlled the lights and blinds in the room so that it was nearly pitch black. Myself and one of my classmates were the “dancers”, which meant we walked around in a circle each holding one end of a long scarf (I was “sunrise”, all in orange, and another classmate was “sunset”, who was so convincingly dressed in all black that she could have been mistaken for a cat burglar).

Meanwhile, our other classmates were playing the bodhran, triangle, tambourine and tin whistle. The best part was that aside from the bodhran player, everybody else improvised as they had no idea how to properly play the instruments. We had our last classes last week. I start my internship this week but should be back in the U.S. mid-May, where I’ll be writing my thesis for the summer and finishing essays. That said, if anyone knows of any bilingual English/French or arts/culture jobs in France, Europe (or the U.S.), or anywhere else, let me know. I’d be happy to apply – REALLY!

Anyways, one day after class while waiting for the light to turn green so I could cross the street, a rather chipper high-schooler on his bike in the stopped cross”traffic” that is Galway at 4PM said “Hi” to me. I said “Hi” back, but in the kind of way where you question if you’re supposed to know them or have met them somewhere. Even if they think you’re still in high school, most people are really friendly in Galway.

Another day, I was at the supermarket and saw the French lady who owns the only pâtisserie (pastries, bread and coffee essentially) in Galway. We had talked several times before in her shop in English and in French but, at the end of our supermarket conversation, she mentioned (in French) “how great it was that I would be able to perfect my language-learning doing a Masters degree in an Anglo-Saxon country”! All I replied was “Oui” with a smile because I didn’t have the heart to correct her or to tell her I wasn’t French. I mean, last time in her shop she gave me a free biscuit (that’s French for “cookie”)!

Two weekends ago I went to a play by myself. I half-ran all the way to the theatre. Since I was going out with some friends after the play, I rushed to get ready, as I decided to go the play last-minute.

The play, “Bassam”,  was written by a Sligo-based Israeli writer and director, Idan Meir, and is a one-man show acted by a Donegal-based Palestinian actor, Fadl Mustapha. It is based on a true story of Bassam, the founder of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, Combattants for Peace (CFP), and you can read about it here.

So, I arrived at the theatre nicely dressed, but out of breath and with wet hair. Anyhow, the play wasn’t going to start for ten minutes, so I grabbed a seat in the back corner, seeing as I got in for free thanks to a friend’s generosity (he may or may not be an employee of this theatre), and so I could watch the show undisturbed. Naturally, this backfired one minute later, as a man walked up to me and with no introduction or preface said: “Ah, the corner. It’s nice and cosy, right? Are you hiding here in the corner because theatre scares you?” To this complete stranger, I replied “Sometimes”, because seriously, sometimes the plays are terrifying and depressing, like the ones we had to go see for theatre class.

Then he asked if I was studying theatre, so I told him no and what I was in fact studying, which he seemed to find interesting. I asked him what his name was and vice-versa–it turns out it was Idan, the writer of the show. Of course. He asked if I had a brochure and I explained I decided to go last-minute, so no. So he ran out and got me a brochure and said he wanted to know what I thought of the show after.

After the show, there was an open discussion with Idan and Fadl which, despite many differences between the two and the audience members, was passionate yet still respectful. Most supported the two-state solution for Israel and the West Bank (Palestine). Following this, scripts were on sale in the lobby. Most people left pretty quickly, so I was able to tell Idan what I thought of the show (definitely one of the few plays I’ve thought was worth seeing or would recommend to others). He insisted on giving me a free copy of the script and also wrote a nice note. Normally, the script and brochure cost 12 euros, so that was a plus. I should make last-minute decisions more often!

Fadl and Idan’s goal is to raise enough money to be able to perform the play outside of Ireland, across Europe and, hopefully, in Israel and Palestine.

Other than that, in our last dance class, instead of learning about dance, we were able to actually dance, which was really fun. It didn’t feel awkward to me, but I was surprised how most of my arts-loving classmates suddenly became self-conscious about it. I had fun anyways! On that note, Galway Dance Days were this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and this year’s theme was Bodies in Conflict (focusing on war zones). I was going to go on Sunday to the open-air dance lesson, but that is exactly when one of my Irish cousins called to let me know she was in town with her fella, so instead, I went for a couple pints with them. That’s Ireland! We had a good time and chatted for the whole of the afternoon, eventually ending up in The Quays which, given that it was pouring buckets outside, turned out to be a good decision.

Tomorrow I start my internship with a classmate of mine who is also working with the same arts charity at the hospital. Last time we were there, we spotted the medical students, complete with business attire, serious faces and stethoscopes, and had a good laugh at them for it when we went to visit the different wards.

In other news, on Sunday we moved one hour ahead. Spring is here, even if it still feels like winter.

Until next time amigos and family!

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