Vamos’s Finding Joy European Saga is underway!
I say saga with a nod to the specialist travel provider for older folks, given the combined age of the three ‘veteran’ cast members is 164! Luckily we have Sarah ‘The Carer‘ Hawkins (already an experienced Vamos veteran herself at 28 years old) to snap us out of our ‘senior moments’ and make sure we don’t walk on stage wearing the wrong mask! (Yep. I nearly did!)
We began with a well received warm up performance at Malvern Theatres. Our thanks go out to all the staff there for their help and the audience for their encouraging response, a welcome confidence boost to set us up for the coming weeks.
The following day we were on the road bright and early, making our way to Gatwick Airport for the first short leg of the tour. Two shows in Germany, one in Erding, a town east of Munich and the other in Offenburg, some 240 miles west and close to the French border near Strasbourg.
A relatively stress and glitch free journey got us and the gear flown out to Munich. We were met with a van by the lovely Angelika Martin, Vamos’s German agent, promoter, enthusiastic champion and no. 1 fan. She generously got us accommodated, fed and watered, introducing the group to Erdinger Weiss beer...a fine fluid, locally brewed and an instant hit with the elders of the company...particularly the gentlemen!
The first show went very well. An extremely appreciative audience gave us a warm, effusive reception and really bought into the style and themes of the show. Several people we spoke to afterwards told us of Joy and her family’s predicament chiming with their own experience. They found the characters and narrative recognisable, clear, funny, moving etc and were amazed that this emotive story telling was possible without words or visibly changing facial expressions.
A lengthy, occasionally slow and jammed up motorway drive across Germany brought us to the venue for show number two. Again, the performance was enormously well received by some 300+ folk. Their applause and positive post-show sentiments echoed that of the previous night’s audience, highlighting the common need to air, reveal and discuss the issues surrounding dementia, its social impact and strategies for people living and dealing with it.
Our short theatrical excursion to this country was pleasantly topped off with Angelika’s hospitality. A traditional Bavarian meal at her gorgeous and stylish home, consisting of Weisswurst, a sausage made from veal, bacon and other tasty stuff. Accompanied of course, by more Erdinger Weissbier!
Hopefully, facilitated by Angelika’s good offices, seemingly boundless energy and faith, the company finds itself at the beginning of an exciting and fruitful relationship between the discerning, drama loving people of Germany and Vamos’s brand of mask theatre. We certainly look forward to returning for the second German leg of our Mini-Euro tour at the end of May.
Next stop however...Prague.
Where I believe, they also have very nice beer...hurrah!