Cape Town - Theatre personality Tara Notcutt is a writer, producer and director. Her latest show, Last Rounds, is heading to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, then to New York in August . Here, she shares her travel secrets...
How widely have you travelled?
I’ve been lucky to travel over four continents – Africa, America, Australia and Europe, mostly in Amsterdam; New York; Perth; Edinburgh; Berlin; Den Haag; Washington DC and my favourite, London. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s mostly been with my own plays. However, there’s no place like home and I have been lucky enough to be able to tour South Africa extensively, to festivals.
Where was your favourite holiday or time spent abroad?
Oh, wow, that’s such a difficult one. Each time has been special. If I had to pick one, though, I would say that the time we spent in Edinburgh was quite wonderful. We took our show The Three Little Pigs to the festival and got to spend a month there, which gave us a chance to get to know the city.
Your worst experience on holiday?
I was out in London with a friend. At 2am, after a lot of whisky, I tried to find my way home. Now, if you know London, the night buses start at a certain time, and they are few and far between. I ended up taking three and a half hours to get home, and walked most of the way across London. Oh, and did I mention that it rained the entire time?
Your funniest experience?
I was staying with a friend of a friend in New York, and she had given me her key and a vague direction to her apartment block. Later that afternoon I walked 12 blocks in the pouring rain and arrived at what I thought was the right place. I went up to the right floor, found the number, put the key in the door (which worked!) and said “Hello?” Next thing, a woman I’ve never seen before comes out from behind the door with a baseball bat and starts screaming at me. I asked “Where’s Sarah?” (the girl I was staying with) and she screamed that Sarah didn’t live there and how did I get a key and she was going to call the cops. I ran, backpack and all, down the stairs and out on to the street, and saw the correct apartment block across the road.
I’ve never figured out how the key worked in her door as well…
What do you avoid during a holiday?
Breaking and entering. And I’ve learnt not to buy so many books.
Best meal abroad?
Eisbein in Berlin. My friend and I had walked for hours to find this place that we’d read about online, and when we got there we were ravenous. It was, quite simply, perfect.
Your favourite place to have sundowners on your travels?
The slightly dodgy looking joint with the most interesting name on the street. I’ve found that it’s best to ask the locals what their favourite places are, because you find some gems that you would otherwise have missed. My favourite name for a pub is The Defector’s Weld in London, and the most charming place to have a nightcap was a tiny bar called Kay’s Bar in Edinburgh, which was bright red on the inside. Seriously – walls, velvet seating, ceiling. Everything.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Travel light, get lost, and try not to buy too many records (I always fail at the last one).
Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture, definitely. I’d rather eat cereal for two straight weeks abroad if it means that I can watch more plays and go to more museums.
Ideal travelling companion?
My best friend, Albert Pretorius. We’ve been almost everywhere together for work and for fun, and we travel well together. On all the trips I’ve taken I’ve found that it’s so important to go with someone you can be completely yourself with. I can safely say that everyone I’ve had the pleasure of travelling with has been relaxed, easy-going, and a lot of fun.
Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis make for interesting reading on the train.
Greatest travel luxury?
I never go anywhere without my iPod (and charger). It’s so important to have a soundtrack when travelling.
Cape Town to Knysna. It’s just so beautiful, with so many great towns along the way.
There’s a saying in South African theatre that there is a festival for every week of the year. My dream would be to get in a car and spend a year travelling to as many of them as I can. I think there are so many amazing parts of South Africa to see, and would love to take the time to explore them properly.
As a seasoned traveller and flyer can you share some tips?
Take a map. I’m a big fan of maps (yes, paper ones). Batteries go flat, but you’ll always know your way around with a fold-out. Take a notebook. There are so many wonderful things to see in the world, and some that you’ll want to go back to again, and you’ll want to write them down so you don’t forget.
Lastly, take the time. Walk instead of drive, and take the train instead of flying. Take the time to experience the journey, as well as the destination. You might discover something you never knew was there.
In a few weeks I’ll be making the trip to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown with some shows, among them Last Rounds and The Three Little Pigs, which will then go on to the 969 Festival at Wits in Joburg.
In August, we will be taking three shows that I directed – …miskien, The Three Little Pigs and Illusive to New York, through the Fringe World Alliance.