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Archive for February, 2006

Sri Lanka

We leave for Sri Lanka at 10am on Sunday morning. I can’t
believe we are leaving so soon. I have spent the past week locked in a
room with ten lovely people, to devise a piece of theatre related to
Tsunami: The Politics of Aid. We have brainstormed ideas, emotions,
snapped at each other’s throats…

I mean’t to post the
above paragraph over a week ago. I get back from Sri Lanka just after
5am yesterday morning and collapsed into bed.

It felt
strange coming home. It was as though we’d been away for months, but I
simultaneously felt as though the travelling had been cut short. We did
so much in 7 days, more than I imagined we could have done, and the
trip was a wonderful balance of creativity and travel. We managed to
drive through a quarter of Sri Lanka in under three days and somehow
pulled off our play, which went down very well with the ISTA festival crowd.

One
of the most moving moments of the week was driving along the south
coast of Sri Lanka, along many of the beaches which had been utterly
devistated by the Tsunami. There was still much to be rebuilt. We
stopped at one particular beach to see a temple which had survived the
impact of the tsunami and remained the only unscathed building along
the shoreline for miles. It was a miracle of sorts, to be hit by a 15
metre wave and not shed a brick. We took a look inside the temple and
saw how the painted celing was unmarked but for a few saltlines.

We
had spent the past two weeks locked in Union North researching the
Tsunami – survivor stories, press conferences, aid organisations,
politics, poems, songs, pictures of the devistation, discussions
between ourselves about how should depict all of this information – but
I think being on the beach and seeing the temple was the first time
that the reality of the Tsunami hit us.

Having researched
how much aid, how many millions of pounds had been pumped into the
country, it was sad to see that the rebuilt shacks were no better than
what they’d been before. It was sad to still see wrecked buildings with
messages scrawled on the side asking for assistance for people trying
to rebuild their homes.

The rest of the trip look us along
most of the south coast, Hikaduwa beach being one of the highlights. We
did body boarding and poy on the beach. Some o the local guys also
brought out some firesticks and to our surprise Karl turned out to be a
genius with fire. From the beach we drove to Yala national park and
then inland towards Nureliya, the tea county. Miles and miles of tea
fields later, we found ourselves on white water rafts, heading down the
river where ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ was filmed. A picture gallery
will be uploaded as soon as people get their snapshots to me.

Sri
Lanka is a beautiful country. The scenery and landscape is one of
exceptional vibrance and, strangely, even the shanty towns scattered
amonth the trees had an aesthetic quality to them. I was secretly
gutted that I hadn’t taken a camera with me, however wrong it seems to
take visual pleasure from another’s life of poverty. The Sri Lankan
people were friendly too, on the whole. They were intrigued by our
white skin and loved to stare/smile/wave at us, very keen to have
photos taken. They were eager to know what we though of Sri Lanka and
we happy to hear that we were in love with their homeland. The only
trouble we ran into was with a couple of trishaw (motorised rickshaw)
drivers who tried to drastically overcharge us. Trishaws are a lot of
fun, weaving through the traffic, honking at each other, and really up
for racing 🙂

The festival was great too. Stressful – we were told that we had to do tech and rigging ourselves but we roped in some ISTA
festival kids to help out. There was a wonderful moment for me in the
dress rehearsal when, for the first time, I thought with confidence this show is actually going to work, and it did.

So,
overall I’m glad that I did this. It was a trip that was productive and
amazing fun. This blog entry is probably really jumbled, but hey, I’m
jet lagged and a little fuzzy and thinking about how I’m going to catch
up with the mountain of work I’ve built up for myself! Watch this space
for pictures and more thoughts/memories as they come.

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