Having taken the plane home, I didn't get to join in on the 16-hour drive back to Sevenoaks, but if it was any reflection on the rest of the tour I definitely missed out! The trip started with our very early departure from Solefields car park on Saturday 15th of October. After a long but enjoyable bus ride, the tour really kicked off when, on arriving in Ibbenbüren, we all got paired up with German students from the school. They welcomed us warmly into their homes for the first four days of the week, and we all came away exclaiming over German hospitality and generosity, but also their strange eating habits. On Sunday, after a short rehearsal and quick walk around the town centre, we were invited to a concert in which several of our new German friends were performing. It was, overall, a great first day.
Monday marked our first performance in the breathtakingly beautiful village of Tecklenburg, up in the hills. Here we performed in the Adolf Gymnasium, as well as the amphitheatre for some of us (videos on Facebook?). The German audience was very appreciative of the play, despite the language barrier; in fact some of the more intense scenes were met by laughter! It was a lot of hard work, and for many of us our first taste of life on tour, passing lights and props along the human chain that snaked up the four flights of stairs, yelling at each other from time to time for being too slow or too fast. Tired but happy, we drove back to Ibbenbüren, confident that the next two performances would be even better than this one.
However, enjoyable though it was, this first night on stage was nothing in comparison to that of the next day, Tuesday, where we performed in Ibbenbüren itself in front of 650 people! The school theatre was gigantic, the facilities amazing and we were all over excited at the idea of using such a fantastic venue. Here's what the local German newspaper, Ibbenbüren, had to say:
"The students shine with Macbeth. The enthusiasm of the young actors was apparent as they proved their talent in our theater."
After the relentlessly exciting action of the first half of our tour, I think the cast felt that at this point that we all deserved a well-earned break. Sadly this break took the form of a 6-hour long coach ride from Ibbenbüren to Berlin. Despite this, the gaggle of withered youths who hopped off the bus at the Berlin British School (at which former Sevenoaks School Academic Deputy, Graham Lacey, is now Headmaster) put on a weary smile, and set to work unpacking for what would be our final performance. What remained of Wednesday evening was spent in a nearby restaurant, where wiener schnitzel proved to be the dish of choice among those of us who had worked out that "wiener" clearly had a different meaning in Germany.
The next morning, we rose bright and early owing to the fact that our performance that day took place not long after lunch, meaning that if we were going to be ready on time, an early wake-up was a must. Needless to say, we were still very much up against it time-wise, and so it's a credit to all those unseen members of the cast, the tech crew, stagehands and indeed directors that the curtain went up on schedule. Though I can only speak for myself, I certainly was very aware of the fact that this was our last performance, and it was clear to me, through the energy, enthusiasm and passion that every actor gave on that day, that they were too.
After the emotion of Thursday, the end of what had been such a big part of all our lives for such a long time, I had quite expected our final day in Berlin to have a sense of "the morning after the night before". However my expectations were quickly vanquished at the arrival of a stereotypically cheery tour guide, who accompanied the group around Berlin, a city that proved to be steeped in much more history than meets the eye. Needless to say that the entire experience was unforgettable (a cliché I know, but there aren't as many synonyms for 'unforgettable' as one might think) and to my mind, I doubt I could have found a better group of people to share it with.
By Ellie Mackenzie-Smith and Jake Spence.