Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bones, Basques & Barcelona: Day 3

Actress Kirsten D'Aurelio continues her journey in Menorca researching her role for Menorca...

"This morning, our last full day in Menorca, we walked around the city centre. These narrow cobblestone streets are where the fiesta de Sant Joan took place 3 weeks ago, so it was great to take in this exact locale and picture the horses, revelers and bonfires which are part of the world of our play. At the shops, I was able to get some items that might make great props for the show (with our propmaster´s approval, of course.)

The 12th century cathedral (mostly Gothic) intrigued me, not only with its beauty and the organ recital we stumbled upon (Mozart on a 2,347 pipe organ is pretty magnificent!), but because, like Menorca itself, the cathedral has been looted and nearly destroyed many times, all the way up to the Spanish Civil War. So the decor is a hodgepodge of time periods and styles in the same way that Menorca contains such a diverse combo of elements from its history of domination and surrender to the Turks, the Moors, the Brits, the French. I see now that Menorca is the perfect backdrop for a play whose themes include misplaced cultural identity and boundaries.

In the afternoon we drove to the southern coast and the sparkling waters of Cala en Turqueta, a gorgeous cove beach that was about 40% topless (don´t ask--I´m not telling.) Also had a wonderful ensaimada from the oldest bakery on the island, and am continuing my love affair with the Trufo bar (the creamiest ice cream bar I´ve ever had---nuevo flavor "choc-orange"! For dinner, we opted for modern Menorcan cuisine, including more Menorcan gin and some tasty mozzarella and pinons (pine nuts.) Struck up a conversation with the table next to us, and voila! met my first Basque, a lovely 20 something French Basque woman who spoke excellent English and whose favorite shows are "Dexter" and "True Blood" (ah, the things we export!) She and her brother were taught some Euskera in school, but her mother doesn´t speak it, and her grandmother still feels the shame and secrecy brought on by the Franco regime´s cruel banning of the language. This attitude is depicted in one of Ollie´s monologues. I asked her if I look at all Basque, and to my delight she said, "Oh, definitely. Except for the nose--Basques have a hump on the nose, like a beak." This is not a feature I plan to acquire for the show, although that kind of thing won Nicole Kidman an Oscar....

Only one disappointment as we leave Menorca: no sightings of the famed Menorcan horse which is so central to the culture and to our play. As one tourism brochure put it, this exquisite breed is "a means by which to understand our history, our present and future, which we share with a character who has the leading role: the horse." We made several attempts to schedule equestrian shows, peered eagerly into fields, even drove to a stable, but to no avail. So, I´ll have to rely on the many beautiful photographs I´m bringing back with me, and fill in the rest with my actor imagination in order to do Ollie´s Act 2 monologue justice. Tomorrow: on to Basqueland!"

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