Thursday, November 15, 2007

Warsaw | Drawing Big

Its 6am in Warsaw and I have been awake for 2 hours. My best attempts to get a full night’s rest after so much travel weren’t fully realized, but I still feel pretty good. This is nothing compared to the jet lag I experience in Athens in March. No complaints.
I arrived in Warsaw last night after a lovely flight but LONG layover in Copenhagen, welcomed warmly from new and old friends alike here in Poland. After a driver brought me to my hotel (a quite swank hotel, I might add), I met with an assistant from the theatre at which we’ll be working and she took me to the tail end of a rehearsal for the show I am designing. I was happy to see Bob, and our wonderful stage manager Sue Jane Stoker was smiling and helpful as always. I was given a chance to introduce myself to the cast, and to meet each of them. They’re a lovely, young bunch…full of energy and seemingly happy to be part of this show.

Our show is rehearsing in a space literally around the corner from my hotel, so my morning treks to work will be a piece of cake after indulging in hotel breakfast. A two minute stroll at the most. I trust I’ll find a local café or bakery that will provide my breakfast later in the week, but for now the hotel will do.

My first impressions of Warsaw happened at night, so its difficult to make any clear assessment one way or the other. The driver took a direct and efficient root to get me to where I needed to be; a good sign – no scam right off the bat in what could otherwise be the perfect chance to run up the bill of an unknowing foreigner. And from what I could see, Eastern Europe looks a lot like I expected…and somehow not a far cry from what I saw in Athens. It is large and not particularly compact, plenty of space between things…not the romanticized crowded and packed cobblestone streets of western and northern Europe. Though a walk around my neighborhood this morning proved to reveal a charm all its own. Warsaw is a beautiful city, and its historic architecture and crisp air immediately charmed me. (Correction: the air is more than crisp…its down right cold here!) Last night’s perspective was clearly off, what with the darkness and jetlag and all. There’s a wonderful park within 4 minutes of my hotel, the city center is twenty minutes away on foot, and the people along the way of each stop have a distinct look all their own. Polish culture does not appear to be one that has lost its visual distinctions; the broad, round faces and pale complexions are consistent. And while smiles don’t seem to be offered up all that easily, there is definitely a pleasant tone in the air - a warm welcoming energy from the city as a whole. People who live here seem to truly like living here.

I have a small, impromptu workspace at the theatre. No big glamorous costume shop or tailors at my beck and call quite yet. That may happen down the road when it comes to mount the actual production. It has been decided that this workshop is for ideas, not making. So, I’ll be working with my assistant in the back room off the main rehearsal space with little more than a table and some hooks for things to hang on. A trip to an art supply store should get me what I need. Seems to me that drawing on a large scale will be the easiest with my hand wrapped up like it is. And as drawings materialize, I anticipate a good deal of flea market crawling and dumpster diving to get the found objects and junk of our dreams to use as prototypes for these costume pieces.

The images I have scattered here and there in this post are some of the first renderings I did for this show. Its not certain we’ll be sticking with any of these ideas, but the visuals are what are on my mind and seem suited to today’s ramble.