As I write this it’s a cool sunny day in Zemun. I’m sitting by the water eating one more heavy Balkan lunch, and I’ve never felt more exhausted in my life. 11 wrestling sessions in 15 days, topped off by a raucous gig at KC Grad last night. Not exactly trench warfare but I’ve felt like I was operating at my limits for the whole time.
I know I’ve been circumspect about the nature of my project, if you’re wondering exactly WHY I felt the need to come here and do this then trust me, your polite bemusement has been shared by my gracious hosts. All I can say at this point is that I came here still not sure if there was really an effective piece of theatre to be made by me about wrestling, and now I’m positive that there is.
I couldn’t have done it without my endlessly generous hosts, both at the wrestling club and at KC Grad, without a doubt the most inspiring arts venue I’ve ever seen.
Speaking of KC Grad, my set there last night was an absolute highlight of my performing life and that was largely thanks to my new friend llija Ludvig. llija is a Belgrade local and a singer/songwriter of rare vitality and talent. He’s also a huge presence on stage and off. Our collaboration was brokered by Ljudmila at KC Grad llija agreed to help me put a set together without meeting me first, and with one rehearsal he was playing my songs better than I do. I was lucky enough to see him play his own set twice while I was here, and I can’t wait to track his output in the future. As for the wrestling, I don’t know how to encapsulate the experience of training the sport of I love, in a language I don’t know, to a level of intensity I’ve never experienced (but which I run-of-the-mill for my hosts). Luckily my whole project hangs on me eventually working out how to do so. Here is a photo of me with my main training partner Miljane at the end of my final session, my bedragglement probably speaks for itself.