This summer, Little Bulb Theatre were invited to perform Orpheus at the Salzburg Festival. The festival took place all over the city from 18 July until 31 August. The company performed in the Republic theatre and their final show was a sell out. Artistic Director, Alex Scott has written us a blog about their experience.
We were all extremely excited about taking our show Orpheus to the Salzburg festival this summer. The festival has a huge reputation especially for music and opera, so we were also slightly nervous to see what sort of reception we would get from the Austrians. We’re a very small company who are used to doing everything ourselves but Orpheus is an exception to that. In fact, it’s a fairly enormous beast and we’ve never taken it on the road before. You can imagine our shock when a huge truck starting backing its way down the tiny Battersea Arts Centre side street to collect our set. Eugenie (who plays Eurydice in the show) said it made her feel like Beyoncé! When we arrived in Salzburg, we set about rapidly rehearsing the show to be ready for opening night. The first thing we realised that instead of there being wings backstage, there was simply a brick wall for us to do all our changes against. We do a lot of very quick changes during the show; in fact it sometimes feels like there’s more choreography backstage. So it was a challenge to fit all this in with so little space – with some very on the fly re-blocking, we somehow managed it in time for opening night.
In Austria, there’s a first night tradition that instead of saying good luck you spit over a person’s shoulder three times. Of course nobody actually spits but they pretend to. So we were quite surprised when the festival director came into our dressing room, embraced us each and sounded “toi toi toi”. I thought he was going in for a European style greeting kiss and I think he was surprised when I turned his good luck spitting into a continental double kiss. Kisses and spitting aside, the opening night went really well. We started to relax and enjoy ourselves when we got our first big laugh of the evening, as Clare bounced into the forest scene as an energetic rabbit. At the very end of the show, the audience were stamping their feet in appreciation and we were very relieved and honoured that they had liked it so much.
The whole experience thereafter was a bit of a whirlwind. The next day we were on the front cover of the daily paper and we went on to sell out our short run. The adventure ended in surreal fashion at the main festival house at an awards ceremony for the Young Directors Project in which Orpheus had been entered. As the whole thing was in German we had to wear ear pieces to listen to the translation. Unfortunately we didn’t win, which was a shame – considering the main prize was a golden pen worth nearly 20,000 Euros. Winning or losing didn’t matter because it was an amazing experience to be part of such an incredible festival, we thoroughly enjoyed our European adventure.
Orpheus is a Little Bulb Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre co-production. Little Bulb Theatre are produced by Farnham Maltings.