October 26, 2011
A big cooked breakfast at the restaurant downstairs and then we're off to Buckie at 11:00. A New Pitsligoian stops on the street as we pile into the van and thanks us for last night's show. We thank her for her patronage, she nods and walks off.
We take a detour down through the fields behind the town and into an old quarry where a hippie/entrepeneur has created a cafe/recording studio/event site/haven.
We take a quick tour given by the owner and it's one of those places where a private obsession has been rendered into glorious reality: The Lastbus Worker's Canteen.
Two old double-decker buses sit in a huge shed, both fixed out with stoves so people can sleep inside. There's a beautiful cafe, a place for bands and all sorts of other work and living spaces scattered around the grounds. A quiet energy and audacity radiates off both the owner and the site. New Pitsligo continues to surprise.
We drive along the coast to Buckie as the unexpected sun breaks away the clouds and the sea rolls in beneath us, huge cresting waves breaking against the shore. We hit Buckie and find the Royal British Legion Hall, which despite its grand title turns out be the Scottish version of a VFW hall.
And here our troubles begin.
There's a tea dance scheduled at two, which should give us two hours to set up, but signals have been crossed. We can unload, store our stuff in a corner, but that's it. And we can't get back in until four, so everything has to be in place and working at the end of three and a half hours, when the audience begins filing in.
Nothing to be done, so we unload and drive the van to the Old Coach House Hotel, down on High Street and check in. Unlike the surprising elegance of the Pitsligo digs, this is a typical hotel for these parts: a bit old-fashioned with endless carpeted hallways leading to doors leading to other hallways, little flights of steps, doors, hallways, doors, steps and there at the very end, your own door.
We nap, find lunch and walk part of the town. Judging by the dates on a few buildings, it looks to be a town built largely in the 19th century, or yesterday for this part of the world. It sits on the Bay of Spey where the great River Spey joins the North Sea and everyone who loves their whiskey gives thanks to the sweet River Spey.
We're back at the hall at four and C. is worried, aware of the ticking clock. We all pitch in and T. and I throw us further behind right away by hooking up all of the scaffold exactly wrong so we have to set it up and break it down twice before we get it right.
But the angels are on our side today. We're set, focused and sound-checked by ten to six.
But we've broken a cardinal rule, done a thing every theater person knows is bad luck and an invitation to disaster.
Recalling the hustle and panic of last night, setting up tables and searching for chairs as the crowd pushed in, we set up every table we have. The gods of theater frown on such hubris and at ten to eight a handful of locals sit in the center of the now vast hall, surrounded by the ghosts of last night's crowd.
Our heroes play hard to the tiny house and parts of the show, especially the interview sections, play better than they ever have. But the show is a heavy lift and the players earn their wages tonight. We have one walk-out at the end of Shit-Grubbers, an earned one, unlike the drunken, garrulous trio of Haddington, who probably didn't even know where they were, let alone what they were leaving.
We break down, load the van, beginning to feel the strain of the effort.
As C. pointed out Tuesday morning, before we left, we are surely the oldest touring troupe on the road. Two shows to go and we can retire for the season.