Having just returned from a great feast, lying now in this gothic stone castle, and listening to, appropriately enough, medieval Irish plainchant, I find myself already trying to slow down the passage of time, what with experiences and places whizzing by this jetlagged traveler. After a mere 3 hours of sleep (anticipatory angst?) and an hour with friends on the frozen gridiron of the National Mall, I scrambled out of Silver Spring to catch the shuttle to Dulles, running into fellow cast member Stacy on the train platform, though oddly enough she was headed to catch her flight from National. Arrived at Dulles, began some initial hijinks with cast members Adrienne and Michael John (henceforth referred to as MJ, same as my mother? hi mom!)…
…then finally met the rest of the terrific cast at JFK where we all boarded an already hour-long delayed flight, which itself sat for 2.5 hours for de-icing before leaping the Atlantic. On board, I found it difficult to sleep, but watched the entirety of an incredibly sad, gorgeous movie about the Irish Troubles in the 1920s.
We’re picked up at the Dublin airport by Marketa, who we had only known via email as our Performance Corporation contact, doing a wonderful job planning our often complex travel logistics. As we’re leaving the airport I recognize where I am and have few wistful thoughts of my last trip here in the summer of 2008. We’re put in a van and make the 30 drive out to Celbridge, County Kildare, southwest of Dublin, and upon arriving we meet Jo and Tom, our Performance Corporation hosts and project masterminds. I had worked with both of them briefly when they came over during the DC Snowpocalypse, on a Solas Nua/Performance Corporation flashmob in front of the White House last Valentine’s Day, and it’s nice to reconnect. Jo gives us a tour of our three lodging sites: the Gate House, the Round House, and, the Batty Langley House, the recently renovated, two floor “mini-castle” which I’m sharing with MJ, which due to its whimsical flair was accurately introduced to us as “the fairy house.” Though our hut is about 15-20 minute walk from the rest of our people, it’s nice to be in a place with such a palpable sense of history. The sharp, woodsy smell of burning peat hangs thick in the air around the town. The windows in my room are circular with ornate medieval cross-stitching. Our castle walls are hard, cold Irish stone, and I feel surrounded by the presence of hundreds of years of days and nights spent between these walls. I fall asleep that night imagining what the exact number is.
Jo and Tom bring MJ and I out to Tesco (local supermarket where I find out plastic bags cost 20 cents a piece here!), we settle in for a quick lunch and I conk out for a 5-hour catch up nap; certainly not recommended for curing jetlag, but my body doesn’t give much choice in the matter. At 8:00 we’re to be picked up for a group meal. Waking up in pitch darkness, I have no idea where I am, imagining it’s the middle of the night and I’ve missed the chance to eat with my friends. Thankfully, it’s only 7:30 and Marketa and her friend Tom pick us up and head out to nearby town Leixlip for a satisfying meal at Donatello’s, a comfortable Italian restaurant where we settle in for wine and a few courses, including birthday wishes for Stacy. It’s the first time the full group has sat and relaxed together and the chemistry is instant and relaxed; there’s a buzz of excitement in the air that the lot of us will be creating something together which doesn’t yet exist, outside of a general idea that we’re making a theater piece about the first group of Irish settlers to migrate to Washington, DC during the famine, a concept whose specifics we still know very little about. In the car earlier, I jokingly asked Tom if he was going to be up all night writing a play for us and responded “no, that’s what you’ll be writing tomorrow!” Yikes. Anyway, the morning brings our first day of creative work so it’s lights out for me. I couldn’t be more excited for this trip and hope I can tell a few good stories on the way!