Before I describe the many wonderful places that we visit on this tour it is worth spending a short time acknowledging our ‘home’ in Canberra. ‘The Red Hill House’, generously lent to us for the duration of our stay, was home since we left Orana in January. It has been an amazing gift.
So much work and excitement, struggle and intensity went on inside those walls. Sometimes the empty house felt like a place of endless possibility, anything was achievable from within its walls. Sometimes it felt as though it were a workhouse, no time to rest, constant work, long days, stress, intense concentration, argument and exhaustion. Sometimes it felt too full, at other times empty. Sometimes the halls rang with beautiful harmony, at other times it was choked with dissatisfaction. One thing is for sure though, without it, we would not have got as far as we have. It was the most generous gift of Matt’s parents, to so freely lend us their house. We owe them a very great debt.
The kitchen became the costume sewing room during the Ring Bearer; the hall balcony the prop making room during Story Songs; the big carpeted room was our meeting room and second rehearsal room – everyone sitting around on the floor leaning against the walls. Two toilets-which would start to stink very quickly if they weren’t cleaned at least twice a week.
Two other smaller carpeted rooms, one contained the photocopier and computers and was where Judy often set herself up when not running rehearsals. It was one of the few rooms with Internet. For some reason the house had terrible Internet and phone reception.
The other was the individual rehearsal room, or the jobs room, for doing things like calling schools about upcoming concerts, designing posters, sorting transport etc. That was where Gawain composed his ‘Thank you’ song.
The biggest room, a living dining kind of room, was our rehearsal room, where we spent most of our days. Terracotta tile floor, cream concrete walls, patterned curtains. Filled with deck chairs, kitchen chairs, fold out chairs of all descriptions and a stack of crates to sit on. Music stands, various instrument cases, piles of books, drink bottles and just the random junk that accumulates so quickly when you have a group of about twenty people spending all day there. The central hall way was our bags dumping ground. Leaving all personal gear there (supposedly), including shoes when it wasn’t too cold.
Outside the front door was our eating area. Morning tea and lunch every day, sometimes beautiful and warm and sunny and at other times cold and windy, but our gathering place, sitting and eating, sometimes playing games, but most importantly, work free! Downstairs, behind the Garage was a storage room tucked under the stairs which every week on Friday night we emptied our gear into before spending a few hours cleaning the house ready for open inspections on the weekend.