Run and run through

I flew in late on Saturday night, already acclimatised to the hot weather after the recent UK heatwave. My role this week in Mytilini is to organise costumes for the performance. In theory, it should have been just ‘organising’ as Chris had pulled together most of them from the local Chinese shop, the Women’s Centre and a local tailor. Plus I arrived (bizarrely distinct from my fellow Thomas Cook package holiday-makers) with a suitcase of shawls, scarves and old shirts (a few quick snips to cut off the collar produces a peasant shirt, remove the sleeves and you have a country jerkin). Oh and also (how many times have I seen it on stage as teacher or preacher?) Chris’s black graduation gown.

Perfect. Well not quite perfect, as unfortunately, the costumes from the Women’s Centre were far from production ready, so together with two volunteer English teachers, Pam and Ciara, we set about hand-sewing the soldier’s tabards. I am no seamstress (as my school needlework teacher regularly reminded me), but I am quite good at pulling together easily donned/shed character costumes that will stand the test of a week’s production run.

The costumes are relatively simple – black trousers/skirts and t-shirt (the latter showing Jaime’s fist/circle logo) as a base. Each character then dons a shawl, shirt, scarf, apron, jerkin, tabard or whatever to signify their character. It’s amazing how costumes lift not only the audience’s perception of a play, but also give the performer confidence and the finishing touch to their characterisation. An old peasant man comes to life in a raggedy jerkin, a servant girl is easily recognisable in an apron. With the production mostly spoken in Farsi interspersed with bits of English, it will be important the (predominantly?) English/Greek speaking audience understand who’s who. Predictably, the kids pushed back strongly on wearing the unfashionable trousers (‘no, you can’t wear your designer ripped jeans onstage’), but they soon acquiesced. I’m impressed with the professional attitude they have taken towards the performance – it was a good dress rehearsal run through.

The second run is of a completely different nature. I’m training, along with our eldest Lucy, for the Great North Run (half-marathon) in just over a months’ time. This is a crucial time, building up distance week-by-week, my current target being 14km. Which just happens to be the return distance to the airport along the shore of the Med from the apartment.

Greece wakes up quite late, so early morning in Mytilini is a very different experience to the usual hustle of Ermou or the harbour front. Heading out of town, I spent the first 2km passing a multitude of street cleaners (mostly well-dressed young women, in ordinary day clothes), plus a couple of men strimming weeds growing out of the pavement cracks. Past the marina, taking care over kerbs, around and under trees, I felt the heat as I climbed over the hill to the road along the coast. At regular intervals, there were small groups of people in sleeping bags on the beach or in the back of their cars, hatch-back open for air, their children already up playing on the stony beach or riding their bicycles (I’m guessing possibly Roma people). Plus a handful of fellow joggers, all enjoying the view over the perfectly calm sea.

Both run and run through have provided a very satisfying start to my week in Lesvos. A feeling of achievement and anticipation for myself (running) and for the kids (performing).

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