The artist’s diary - Keith Donald in Brussels
Monday 11th April 2016 at 12pm
Renowned saxophonist and clarinet player, Keith Donald travelled to Brussels earlier this year to perform his one-man play, New Bliss at Bozar as part of the Brussels Platform, an initiative developed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels.
The platform provides an opportunity to showcase the very best Northern Ireland artists at the heart of European policy and decision making.
Keith has prepared a short blog post from several diary excerpts following his trip:
Thursday 3rd March: In the Aer Lingus lounge at Dublin airport on Thursday morning, Susan Slott (director, cueist and moral support) and I met Owen Roe, the renowned actor, on his way to a symposium in Princeton on Shakespeare. Thought: aren't the Irish really friggin talented? Meanwhile... Soundman Ollie Carroll and Joe Dunne who drives, sets the props and sells merchandise had left Dublin Port on Wednesday and driven via Dover and Calais with the set and my instruments. We all ate Italian on Thursday evening.
Friday March 4th: Show day. We have breakfast together and plan the day's logistics. Ollie and Joe head off to set the stage. Susan and I walk to the theatre in heavy rain and meet Corinne Becquevort of the Northern Ireland Office who tells us that tickets are selling well and some diplomats have been invited. Thought: mind your language tonight. Better be diplomatic...
Susan and I have lunch with my niece Patricia and her friend Sally, over from Belfast for the weekend. We are back in Bozar at 3pm and stay for a long sound check - recorder, ukulele, tenor sax (in the city where it was invented by Adolphe Sax), clarinet, speaking and singing voice.
Showtime: I'm standing at the side of the stage breathing deeply and focussing hard at 7.25. I can't understand why the audience is coming in so slowly. And I'm wondering why the stage lights keep flickering. (I found out afterwards that the audience were not allowed to bring coats in as a security precaution resulting in cloakroom queues. And the lighting desk malfunctioned with ten minutes to go. My personal thanks go to all the thespian gods for Ollie and his ability to remain calm under pressure.
I find myself enjoying NewBliss and I am relaxed enough to think of my mother while I'm playing the instrumental that I wrote for her, For Denise. I think I'm playing it better than before...
Post-show I met Ambassador Eamonn (a Moving Hearts fan) Andrew from the Northern Ireland Office, Patricia, Sally and her Brussels contingent, and many audience members with kind words.
When Susan and I were queueing for the Aer Lingus flight home, a young couple from Gibraltar came over and said they'd been at NewBliss and loved it.
Secondly, ten minutes out from Dublin airport, over the Irish Sea, I looked out the window and saw the Stena ferry that the NewBliss crew were on and for a few seconds we were all in sight again, Susan beside me, Ollie and Joe, the set and instruments below.
It was a great three days. My thanks to all concerned, crew, Bozar, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Office in Brussels.
For more information on Keith Donald and his work, visit his website www.keithdonald.com