So last time we left you, we were on the ferry to Northern Ireland, excited to explore a new country and perform to our very first Irish audience. Well, we can definitely say that our stay in Northern Ireland fulfilled all expectations and was a success!
We disembarked the ferry and set off on a touristy day out. We started out in Carrickfergus and went to go and have a look at its castle. As we walked around the castle, we were stopped by a man in full medieval costume who told us some interesting facts about the castle. We were not, however, able to buy any of his Carrickfergus merchandise, we are on a budget on this tour let’s not forget! Consequently, we set off again to explore some of the beautiful Irish countryside, stopping at the Glenoe waterfall which was a perfectly scenic place to have our lunch.
The ‘Back of the Van’ tour takes us to 17 locations all of which, apart from Edinburgh, are rural locations so we wanted to ensure that on our days off we explore as much of the picturesque countryside as possible. So, after our lunch in Glenoe, we made our way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and after that the natural phenomenon of The Giant’s Causeway. Both of these locations were truly amazing pieces of coast. It was clear for us to see how these locations could feed and inspire the magical story of the Selkie and make the fairy-tale believable for so many people, not just Grace in ‘To the Ocean’. In Carrick-a-Rede we even saw a seal, although the only picture we took looked like a grey blob so you’re going to have to trust us on this one!
Our day finished in Port Gelnone, the home of the wonderful Jess Armstrong and her fantastically kind family. To say thank you for letting us stay at her house, we treated Jess to some camping-stove-fried tofu. Team cooking led by Chef Savage created a very successful meal. As we had no show the next day, we treated ourselves to a trip to the pub after dinner and found what is quite possibly one of the most charming, small, rural pub that many of us had seen.
The next morning, we left Jess and the rest of her wonderful family and started our journey to the next location on tour, Enniskillen. After being extremely lucky and experiencing some pretty spectacular weather since beginning our tour, as we drove along the Irish roads we had our first experience of rain. We were all very much expecting this to happen at some point, so as we continued to travel to Enniskillen we planned the best ways to stay dry whilst flyering in the rain. But as our luck would have it, by the time we arrived in the town the rain had eased, and we were able to explore the town and drum up some interest in our shows whilst remaining nice and dry. After a mandatory Aldi stop to buy food for dinner and extra snacks we headed on over to Riverside farm caravan park for a much-deserved rest.
We kicked off day 2 in Enniskillen by setting up our tent in the grounds of the Lakeland Forum. As people prepped for a 10km race that was to be held there, our great bell tent boutique tent attracted a lot of attention and we were lucky that this in itself generated a lot of interest in our show. Our audience for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ were wonderful and seemed to really enjoy the energy of our performance. For our Sunday night performance of ‘To the Ocean’ we welcomed our youngest ever audience member, 5-year-old, Mia into the tent. If there ever was pressure on our actors to play a 5-year-old convincingly, it’s when an actual 5-year-old and her parents are in the audience. Again, we had another absolutely wonderful audience and we cannot thank them enough for the lovely comments after the show, as well as all the support we received on social media. Part of the aim of this tour was to make theatre more accessible to rural communities, and we cannot express how much joy it brings us to see that we are able to achieve that.
So, thank you to the Armstrongs, Bell Tent Boutique, Riverside farm caravan park , and every member of our audience in Enniskillen. We cannot express how grateful we are to you all. This morning we packed up and left Enniskillen behind as we begin our journey to Roundstone and the Republic of Ireland, as we take BoxedIn Theatre international for the first time.