OOTW 2019: Clapham Common Revisited

It'd be fun to go back, snap a pic, and compare the before and after!

I’m writing this blog post from a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as I fly back in time from London to Las Vegas. The ten hour flight leaves at 12:40pm and arrives at 3:25pm, as if time stands still at 37,000 feet. I’m returning from Out of the Wings Festival 2019.

This year’s festival was especially exciting for two reasons: 1) My translation of “Complemento” was chosen for a staged reading on closing night, and 2) We’ve moved to a new venue; Onmibus Theatre in Clapham Common!

I’m at least a litle bit familiar with the area beacuse my then boyfriend and I stayed at an inexpensive bed and breakfast in Clapham Common 26 years ago, when we took a European vacation together. It was called Mrs. Ward’s Guest House, and though the beds were disappointing (they were actually stiff cots), the breakfast was extensive and hearty.

While packing my bags for this trip, I had fond memories of walking through Clapham Common to the Tube station, and wondered if we had any pictures of Mrs. Ward’s from our trip long ago. It’d be fun to go back, snap a pic, and compare the before and after!

Not having time to search for old pictures right away, I got to thinking about the differences between my life now and back then. If anyone had told my younger self that one day I would return to Clapham Common, to perform my translation of my grandfather’s masterpiece, with an internationally renowned group of theatre scholars, researchers, and practitioners, I never would have believed it!

As I took flight for this new adventure, my then boyfriend now husband rummaged through the garage in search of a photo. He found not only a picture of me in Clapham Common circa 1993 (a slide!), but also our itinerary, with the addres, rate and planned excursions from Mrs. Ward’s.

Me at Mrs. Ward’s Guest House in Clapham Common, circa 1993.
While staying at Mrs. Ward’s we had taken a day trip to Stonehenge.

On August 3rd, 2019, the day of the staged reading, I dressed for the performance and set out early for a pre-show pilgrimage to Mrs. Ward’s for good luck. It was only a fifteen minute walk from the theatre!

The neighborhood had changed quite a bit. It was no wonder; in 26 years, so had I! We’d been drawn to the area, originally, because it was affordable. I recall a bakery selling hot cross buns, the convenient Tube station, and the expansive, green common. Now there were a seemingly endless aray of upscale eateries and shops. A few gourmet snacks at the current bakery, populated by well to do young families, cost more than what Mrs. Ward had charged for one night’s room and board.

Instead of hot cross buns, I had polenta cake and flourless lava cake!

I found the address and asked a neighbor to take a pic. The brick facade had been painted white, and there was a motorcycle on the porch. I wondered who it belonged to. Mrs. Ward had been a grey haired woman on my first visit. No doubt she’d passed on by now.

Time flies!

When I texted my husband that I’d found the place, he was excited to see the pictures and hear about it. When I described the gentrification, he replied, “I hope Mrs. Ward made a killing.” “May she rest in peace”, I replied. He wished me good luck, “Break a leg!”; and with my walk down memory lane complete, I made my way back to the theatre for a performance that was the culmination a still another adventurous journey.

“Complemento” by Rafael Guizado premieres in English translation at Omnibus Theatre!