So this was our first time in Liepzig and it is always nice to find new cities and countries and groups to work with on the tour. To find new stages and audiences to win over to our side. And Liepzig was cool.
One cool thing that I learned was how to remember how to spell Liepzig. You see in Germany there are things that are spelled "ie" and things that are spelled "ei" and I always mixed the two up. Then I created a "donkey bridge" that was so obvious I wonder how I hadn't thought of it before... What's that? You don't know what a "donkey bridge" is? I see, yet another German thing I should explain.
A "donkey bridge" is when you create a little trick or short cut to remember something. This could be a story or rhyme in your head to remember someone's name, for example. The reason it is called a donkey bridge is... because... I really don't know.
Back to "ie" and "ei". The "ie" words (like Liepzig) start with the letter I and also have the I sound. The words with "ei" (like weisse beire) start with the letter E and also have the E sound. Presto! Instant donkey bridge, now to find out why they call it donkey bridge.
We did our show there at a club called NATO, that is pretty cool all on its own. It was a good show too, lot's of strange references to the ridiculous (one of the suggestions was "ridiculous" in my ongoing quest to hear the English words that Germans think sound funny). The show had story lines where there weren't really any bad guys, all the antagonists had heart, and a good reason to be doing what they were doing.
Next stop Onsabrucke & Munster double bill (another new stop)
So Paderborn, we do a show in Paderborn for the first time. It is a small little place in the German countryside. Legend has it that the Pope or the Bishop or some religious guy back in the olden days was walking from Rome following a Peacock, and he had a whole gaggle of followers behind him. They were looking for a... well, I don't really know what they were looking for, what do you look for when you follow a peacock? Anyways, legend has it that the peacock died where modern Paderborn is and they decided to found a town there, and that is why Paderborn is where it is. Weird story huh?
The other thing about Paderborn is we do a show in this really nice theatre. Three things about the theatre:
1) It is located above a bank, so you walk upstairs from the bank to get to it, strange.
2) It seats over 200 people and the law in Germany dictates that if the audience is over 99 legally there needs to be fire marshals present at the performance (any performance). So we did the show with a couple of guys in uniform in the wings. They seemed to enjoy themselves, and, no fire.
3) We played on a stage that had a big weird white set that would rotate. It was a couch, two chairs, a table, a scooter and a bathtub all on a big white blog of something. It was cool to have this strange thing to play with. (see attached picture).
The other picture attached is me (Steve) with Urban's mom and the big outdoor train set in the backyard where he grew up. Urban is an improv player who now lives in Berlin and works with Paternoster. The train set was pretty cool, though i did not see it running. CRUMBS played the show in Paderborn with Urban, Doerthe and Anya. The show was really nice.
Next stop Leipzig.
We were whisked away to Goettingen after the Festival in Berlin. We had been to Goettingen a number of times before, you may have remembered the blog entry last year about Lars and his one on one battle with a trampoline? Well, Lars (or "The Coach" as we have called him for several years now) is up on his feet and walking you will be pleased to know.
The shows or show we did in Goettingen was either plural or singular depending on your perspective, allow me to explain. In Goettingen they have always done shows back to back in this very nice theatre that used to be an old kino (movie theatre) in fact, it still might be. Now it is a famous theatre called the Lumiere. There is a backstage room where we hang out and there is a stage where we do the show (no kidding Steve). So, the first show begins at 8pm and we have an intermission and then do the second set. We have a 10 or 15 minute break before the second show, which actually just seems like another intermission, so really to us, it isn't a second show but a 3rd set. And the 3rd set lasts 90 minutes, and then we do an encore. So really, the show in Goettingen is 3.5 - 4 hours long? Plus, when we do the encore, we revisit scenes and characters from the show. While doing the encore, we all could not really remember what parts were in what set, so we end up mashing up all the bits from all three sets. Luckily, there were a lot of people that ended up buying tickets to both shows, so they saw all three sets and enjoyed it on all levels.
Next stop: Paderborn, what? Paderborn? Where is Paderborn?
Holy Moly has time ever flown over the cukoo's nest. They say time flies when you are having fun, but the cukoo's nest?
So the tour started in Koln for me, then led to Berlin for the Berlin International Improv Festival, which thank goodness is in fact in Berlin otherwise it would really be time for a new name. The festival was of course quite good (it always is) and we were able to connect and reconnect with the international improv community which we always get to hang out with at these "international improv events". Enough word play, time to get to the point.
No point really, just stringing words together. I suppose this is more of a exercise in memory and the alleviation of "road boredom". Road boredom? yes, well, road boredom is the state one gets into whilst traveling on the road during a tour that lasts longer than 2 weeks and includes more than 3 cities. I am quite the expert. Now, back to the point (of which, there isn't).
What an amazing city. One of my favourites. So much art, so much life, so much to do... and no time whatsoever to do it. The festival this year was jam packed (actually contained no jam) with so many workshops and shows I am surprised I was even able to realize that I was in fact in Berlin. And I might add that I was in an improvised musical...
What? An improvised musical? You? I know, what the hell was I doing in an improvised musical? Well, because I showed up at the festival late (because of the whole Cologne stop over) i was signed up for the musical. So I did what any professional improv player would have done, I tried to get out of it. Then, while on the way to the "getting out of it" I realized that I should do things I am not used to, I should stretch and learn and grow as a performer, and Christoph told me I had to do it.
The improv musical workshops were actually very good. We sweated. We danced. We sang. We did musical type things. It affected us all, we would even catch ourselves doing a "kick ball step" while waiting for the U-bahn. Seriously though, I think I understand and appreciate the musical a little more now. Sometimes when a character is saying something in a show that is just so emotional that it just cannot be expressed by mere words, and so they sing it. And sometimes singing it just cannot express the immenseness inside that needs out, and so they dance. And when that isn't enough, they write a musical and go to Broadway.
The dust settled, the hail storm passed, the shows ended and the audience finally stopped clapping (really, the festival was over for like three days before the audience would stop) and it was time to wave goodbye to Berlin once again. The tour takes us next to Goettingen to meet up with "The Coach" and check in again (if you remember, last year he was in hospital with "trampoline knee").
We start off in Cologne, or i should say that i start off in Cologne. I am separated from my fellow travelers right off the plane. Lee and Tyler continue on to Berlin while i have to navigate myself through the bowels of the Frankfurt airport to board a train... all with almost no sleep. There is a festival in Cologne happening at the same time as the festival in Berlin. I am there to teach a bunch of workshops and then Lee will meet up with me and we will do a show. The festival is run by a group called Clamotta, whom I met on tour in 2006.
Cologne is one of those town that has several names, you know, the places that are called something different in english. I don't fully understand this kind of thing. but in German, the city is called Koeln (pronounced Co-Lne).
Cologne also had some unfortunate events occur in the last few weeks, well actually just one unfortunate event. They had a building collapse. The building housed the archives for the city, which of course had one of a kind documents and priceless history within it. The collapse also caused two deaths and could have caused a whole lot more. Here is how the stories go as they were told to me.
First, the casualties:
Both casualties were asleep at the time of the collapse (at around 2pm) because the building was attached to some apartments. The first was a baker and worked at 4 or 5 in the morning and had just returned home to recharge the bread making batteries. The second was at work earlier in the day and was feeling sick, in fact, the young man's boss had noticed that he was looking sick and he was sent home early by her. He was probably relieved to get home to bed, but what bad timing. It will be a while until that boss sends someone home again I am sure.
Second, the people who escaped:
There was a woman who was in the building just finishing up her book about the history of Cologne. She had here laptop there and a memory stick with the only back up. The book was now done really and represented years of work. The building was evacuated, which at the time seemed like a routine fire drill, so she left all her stuff right there (yes the only copies of her book). As everyone was leaving the building it became more and more apparent that this was not a drill and people were being hurried out. The building collapsed one minute after exiting the building, all on top of her book. Now, after a couple of days of clean up, they did find her laptop, which means that her book on Cologne history will no doubt be a famous book.
There was a bus that was scheduled to pass right onto the street were the building fell. But at the stop before, the doors were stuck open and the driver had to try and fix the jam. I am sure he was frustrated, i know that I would be. But then he did get to have a nice view of the building topple instead of have the feeling of stone meet bus.
Finally, there was the fact that the week before there was a huge celebration on the street right where the building collapsed into. Beer gardens, open stage, stands filled with hundreds of people. It would have been hard to evacuate all those partying people, heck its even hard to get partying people to stop fighting each other, let alone pay attention to anyone trying to say anything.
All this happened as Cologne was making some new tunnels for their subway system. There was water that had leaked in to the tunnels and had compromised the integrity of the foundation of the archive building. They were approved for three pumps, they put in fourteen. They thought that had done enough, they hadn't. Even the world class engineering of Germany are infallible. You never know when the ground beneath you will give out. I also heard that Cologne is known for its corruption, so who knows what really has gone on here. All I know is that I will take care what buildings I walk into.
Oh yeah, and the show went well. Even though the story did have some time travel (which in an improv show can be hell on earth) we did also have a squirrel story. If you ever have a chance to meet a German, please have them say the word squirrel, you will not regret it.