Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Summer so far...

...goodness what a summer is has been so far! Like so many of you I imagine, I have found the past few months have rather confusing and upsetting. The world feels a bit topsy-turvy. But here in the Warden household we've tried to crack on, and use each day for adventures and spreading joy.

Firstly, travel stuff...

D and I took an amazing trip to Australia in May. Highlights included the Sydney Opera House, beautiful beaches, fantastic food (especially the avocados), swimming in the Great Barrier Reef (astonishing!), exploring the east coast from Bondi Beach, and visiting rainforests. We travelled via Qatar and Oslo (rather weirdly) so we were able to explore two more new places for us, both of which were very interesting in very different ways.

We arrived back and I headed off to France for the European Avant-Garde and Modernist Studies conference in lovely Rennes. It was a great event, if a bit of a challenge for my dodgy French! I made a number of new connections, and ate the best buffet ever! The medieval streets and beautiful gardens of Rennes are well worth a visit. It is a pretty exciting travel experience too, as you can now fly from the tiny London Southend airport.

Back to it again, and a few weeks of events (including a fabulous wrestling conference in Aberystwyth), networking and book proofs. I ended up completing the proofs for both 'Performance and Professional Wrestling' and 'Migrating Modernist Performance: British theatrical travels to Russia' in the same week, which was a little bit mad! Trying to complete marking and end-of-term admin at the same time meant that life was extremely busy!

And then, finally, we travelled to Russia for a research trip that has taken a full year to plan. We returned last weekend. So, Russia... I am still rather digesting all that we saw and did in Moscow and St Petersburg. Suffice to say, the whole trip challenged all my preconceptions. We found a very open, welcoming country. Everyone we met was helpful and kind. They put up with my basic Russian, and were always ready to assist. I didn't once feel unsafe or concerned. The theatre company I worked with, the Electrotheatre Stanislavsky, was fabulous - super lovely people doing great work! Sixty people attended my talk (sixty!) which was astonishing really. It took a fair amount of planning but, ultimately, proved to be a life-changing, inspiring trip. I will write something more comprehensive about our journey at some point soon.

And so, now I really feel as though summer has arrived. I'm looking forward to embarking on two new book chapter projects. I haven't really done any brand new research for about a year, and feel very excited to get cracking on these projects. The first is a chapter on Alexander Tairov for a book on Russian Directors, and the second is a collaborative chapter on Theodore Komisarjevsky for Bloomsbury's Great Directors Series. There are plenty of other things going on, but I'm going to try to focus on just a couple of projects for the next month or so.

As well as work, we have lots of lovely things to look forward to: a beautiful wedding this weekend, the arrival of the Scottish side of the family in Nottingham, a weekend in Verona, a week in Edinburgh (and hopefully further north) for meetings/research/festival-going, and a relaxing week in Portugal where I plan on doing nothing except read, snooze, and swim about.

I leave you with a picture of me in front of St Basils in Moscow. Have a great summer friends!