All pictures are by Felicity Pickering (except for the ones she’s in).
Lib Campell has written a blog post for us! Lib is a TV Presenter, actor, choccy lover and a human.
I catch at least 2 trains a day. Bear in mind that a mild 2-train-day is as rare as me having a boyfriend. On my average trackin’ day the Fat Controller surrenders his top hat and gives me a massage of commuter commiseration. Though sometimes it’s just a reiki sesh – cause’ that’s more consistent with his image…
Naturally I could fill a hippo with the horror. Hours of boob bouncing bus rides have made my scones doughy and my eyelashes brittle. I fear the next delay I see shall see me split in two just like it did Gollum. Poor Gollum –he’s had it up to HERE with track work. Do you really think he CHOSE to WALK to Mordor?
ANYWAY… I shall now share the most radiant thing I’ve witnessed on a train recently.
Setting the scene…
7:06am train - Its effing freezing and my Tinkerbelle earrings keep getting caught on my scarf.
City via Airport Line. – Every carriage is crammed with
A) Starchy suits scrolling ipad spreadsheets with tangible contempt.
B) Click-clacking pencil skirts with platinum foils as thick as Darrell Lea soft eating liquorice. (RIP Darrell)
C) Douche bags on their way to Helsinki or Buenos Ares or wherever, with their dumb suitcases and chubby dumb duffel bags.
(This is what I turn into when I’m cold and irritated. Not even clever mean, just, ‘get out of my way, you’re dumb’mean)
I burrow my way to one of those seats near the door, the ones like park benches where you spend 40 minutes making snap judgments about the #parkbenchpplopposite. Amid this heavy mist of negative morning minutiae, a lady with a mauve scrunchie marches brazenly on to our carriage carrying a dirty great BIKE. Our yolky eyes pop and sizzle as she pushes herself and the bike in to our twisted mess of limbs and luggage. The #parkbenchpplopposite look just as goaded as my bench.
BUT THEN…with whimsical dexterity Mauve Scrunchie bends and buckles and seriously folds that bike so that it is no bigger in size and consequence than an obedient beagle. It’s a freaking collapsible bike! The #parkbenchpplopposite gape in shock. But none more so than an anceint little lady who is clearly Little Red Riding Hoods grandma-ma. I dub her Hood Ma-ma. In response to the bike wizardry before her Hood Ma-ma lets out an audible gasp – not dissimilar from the one she would have made when she saw the big bad wolf. She continues to stare and shake her head until she spills some words right into Mauve Scrunchie’s lap.
“I never learnt to ride”.
“Sorry?” replies Mauve Scrunchie.
“My mother couldn’t afford to buy me a bike, so now I love to walk. But I never did learn”.
Mauve Scrunchie puts away her phone and turns to Hood Ma-ma; staring her straight in the bonnet. Mauve Scrunchie then goes on to establish where Hood Ma-ma lives (Holsworthy), where she is going (the doctor) and which day will best suit for Mauve Scrunchie to drive over and teach her to ride. (Wednesday). By the time we are at Wolli Creek the two are deep in conversation, planning their upcoming joy ride.
It was perfect. Perfect and overwhelming. I suck at bike riding – if I was a better person I would have piped up and joined them the following Wednesday. But I didn’t. I just thought wow - it’s really not that hard to look after one another.
Why should the train fun stop? We’ve got some more blog posts we’d love to share with you! Here is a story from writer Eileen ILwain.
I hate trains. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in a big metal box with the sort of people you’d avoid on the street. But when you’re sixteen and your boyfriend lives in Parramatta you don’t have much choice. So here I am. On a train.
It’s a scorching summer’s day, the kind that saps all your energy as soon as you step outside. I’m dressed to kill in a black mini skirt and midriff top. Lolita, eat your heart out. Heads turn as I totter down the aisle in my skyscraper heels. I can see the judgement in their eyes –slut, bitch, trash – but
I ignore them, finding an empty seat at the back of the carriage. A middle-aged woman in a hideous green hat glares at me like I am solely responsible for the moral decline of today’s youth. Whatever. I bet she hasn’t been laid in over a year.
The train reeks of BO and vomit, with a hint of stale piss. There’s a round smudge on the window where someone with greasy hair must’ve fallen asleep against the glass. The humidity is stifling. Within seconds my legs are stuck the blue vinyl seat. As I squirm around I catch a man who’s old enough to be my father trying to peer up my skirt. Gross. I briefly wonder what his wife would think before deciding he probably doesn’t have one. Who’d marry a pervert like that? Definitely not the woman in the ugly hat judging by look of disgust she’s aiming at him.
At the next stop a few more people shuffle onto the train, like so many cattle at the sale yards. Everyone looks cranky and hot. I know how they feel. The only thing keeping me sane is the thought of my gorgeous Brazilian boyfriend waiting for me at the other end. His name’s Carlos and we’ve been together for three blissful weeks. I’m pretty sure he’s ‘The One.’ I can’t wait until I get my P’s so I can drive to his house instead of catching the train. Carlos doesn’t have a license, but he’s so sexy I don’t care.
My phone vibrates, making me jump. I rummage around in my little silver bag. Shit, where is it? I finally find my phone at the bottom of my bag and glance at the name flashing on the screen. It’s him! I swear it’s like he knows when I’m thinking about him.
I’m grinning like an idiot as I press the answer button. “Hey babe, what’s up?”
An unfamiliar female voice crackles in my ear. “Is that Michelle?”
“Yes,” I bristle. “Who the fuck is this?”
“This is Bianca, Carlos’s new girlfriend. Carlos asked me to tell you that he doesn’t want to see you anymore.”
“I said Carlos doesn’t want to see you anymore. Got that?” she snaps.
Now I’m really pissed off. “Listen, I don’t care who the you are, I want to speak to Carlos. Right now.”
I hear her mutter “She says she wants to talk to you.” A few seconds later Carlos comes on the “Hello?” he purrs in his smooth Brazilian accent.
“What the hell, Carlos? Who was that girl? Is she your girlfriend?”
“Look, I’m sorry, baby. This isn’t working for me anymore.”
“But why?” I wail, hating how desperate I sound.
“I never get to see you. You live too far away.”
“But I’m getting my license next month!” I’m hysterical now and people are starting to stare. I wish they’d all go away. I wish I’d never gotten on this train.
Carlos sighs. “Don’t get upset, baby. We can still be friends.”
“Friends? You want to be friends? As if I’d want to be friends with a guy who gets his new girlfriend to dump me. Stuff you, Carlos. I hope she gives you herpes!”
I mash the call button with my thumb and shove my phone back in my bag. Unbelievable. What a prick! I can’t believe he broke up with me like that. He could’ve at least had the courtesy to dump me before I got on the train.
This is the worst day of my entire life. To make matters worse, my mascara is running and I don’t have a single tissue to my name. Just when I’m about to start blubbing everywhere someone hands me a pristine white handkerchief. It’s the woman in the awful green hat.
“Here. You look like you could use this,” she says with a sympathetic smile.
“Um, thanks.” I take the hanky, dabbing at my eyes.
“Better?” I nod, too stunned to do anything else.
This seems to satisfy her. “Good. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Was that your boyfriend on the phone?”
“Yes,” I reply, feeling wretched. “At least, he was.”
She tsks and shakes her head. “Well, it sounds like you’re better off without him if you don’t mind me saying. My son would never dream of treating a girl that way. He’s a good boy, my Matthew. You’d be about the same age. He’s meeting me at the train station and then we’re going to see a movie. Would you like to come?”
I teeter on the brink of saying no, only to change my mind at the last second. I’ve got nothing better to do with my afternoon and I’m not looking forward to the long train ride home.
“Sure,” I grin. “What the hell?”
“Watch your language, dear,” she says, but her eyes are crinkled with amusement. “Come on then. I’m getting off at the next stop.”
I follow after her as she weaves through the crowd towards a guy in a light blue t-shirt. No way. That’s her son? He’s to die for!
“Hi Mum,” he says, giving the woman a peck on the cheek. “Who’s this you’ve got with you?”
She beams at him and it’s obvious how much she loves her son. “Matthew, I’d like you to meet this lovely young lady. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Michelle,” I mumble, staring at my feet.
“Michelle,” she repeats. “What a pretty name. I invited her to come see the movie with us. You don’t mind, do you Matthew?”
Matthew looks at me and I feel my cheeks grow hot. He has the most adorable puppy-dog eyes. I’ve ever seen and a cute little dimple near the corner of his mouth. “I don’t mind,” he says with a shy smile.
And despite everything that’s happened to me today, I find myself thinking… maybe trains aren’t so bad after all.
A View From Moving Windows actor Helen O’Leary has written a beautiful poem for the blog!
death train poem – The 21-10-6 – [ by helen o'leary 21 oct 2012].
A View From Moving Windows actor and all around wonderful person Shauntelle Benjamin has written us a blog post!!
Woodford next stop. Passengers please remember that the last carriage and the first carriage is gunna be a quiet carriage. Please leave the other passengers in peace…
I live in the Blue Mountains. I work in Sydney’s CBD. I perform and create art everywhere, and I’m studying Psychology as a distance student.
When I say I live in the Blue Mountains, I mean I live in trains. At least for now. With A View From Moving Windows and work, I’m on the train roughly 25 hours a week. That’s 25 hours of watching the day go past, of seeing dogs being walked, children going to school, romances being formed, cars zipping along a highway, clouds swirling and people playing on their phones. Phones that cut out EXACTLY when you need to remind your boyfriend to take the laundry out of the washer and hang it out to dry.
So I see a lot. I hear a lot. Sitting in the quiet carriage to write this, I hear a man behind me tap on his keyboard, a phone unexpectedly ring and a passenger dive for it, the train chug over tracks and toot to remind people not to use the crossing while the train goes past. I hear that high-powered whine that comes with fast movement, the vibration underfoot, underbum that comes with any movement.
And I see. As I travel, I see through moving windows. If you’ve ever been in an airplane flying across Australia to get to your destination, and you’ve had a window seat, you’ll understand the view I get. Crossing the country by plane you see Sydney city, beautiful bushland, red desert, glowing rainforests and weaving beaches. I go from a rural location to a city one every day – the green of the mid mountains, the cut out crevices of the gorges to get the train through (reds, yellows, greens) the plains and their houses spread out before me, the city, so far away, then the concrete jungle of Parramatta and Sydney city, sucking me in, making me feel small.
There’s a lot to be said for traveling for two hours to get somewhere. You have time to contemplate life, the world, everything. Time to listen to music and observe humans. Time to be still, which in this day and age is very difficult. We seem to have a NEED to be moving, and if we’re not moving, our sense of self worth is somehow damaged because everyone else is moving. We rush here and there and we never stop and breathe. Our head to the ground, just getting where we’re going, because we’re late. I never used to be running late when I was a kid. I’m sure of it. I used to count the cracks in the ground, jump over them, look at cars and get jostled by trains while I stood.
I’m very guilty of studying on the train, of watching tv and listening to music and ignoring everyone and everything until I get to my destination. I think that’s fine. Sometimes we do want our own little bubble of space, like the woman sitting across from me now with her headphones in and eyes closed. She’s not asleep, and she looks stressed, which isn’t good on a Monday morning. I fantasize about sitting beside her, asking if she’s ok, if she would like to move away from the first carriage and talk. Is there a call for that? A train psychologist that sits with you and just listens. Maybe so. If we all just sat and listened, would we hear a group mind? Would we hear people freaking out and sobbing or raging or loving or lusting or just being?
Glenbrook is the next stop, Glenbrook.
Is that perhaps why we all sit apart, because to sit close together would mean that we can hear and feel everything everyone feels? Are we all empathic? I know we take on each other’s emotional states. It’s why we come together to celebrate, or grieve. It’s easier when you know someone’s with you. Maybe we need to split carriages, not into quiet and sonic, but into
Bless you. Hay fever? Yeah. It’s a bit like that.
But into emotional states. The excited carriage can be as loud as they want. The exhausted carriage can sleep, the entertained carriage can play games and music and maybe the heartbroken carriage can find new love.
It’s breakfast time now. I had pizza (yum) someone else has banana bread and really good smelling coffee. Apparently Blacktown’s where it’s at for coffee today. I saw my family of kangaroos today. There are a lot of them. I tried to get a picture for you, but they were quite far away. Being a Brit, hopping on a train and seeing Roos casually hanging out near a grove of trees in a relative city is pretty amazing.
Westmead next stop. In an hour I’ll be at work, a faceless, nameless drone in a city full of faceless nameless drones that scream out in protest to the forced anonymity of their existence.
It’s not that bad, but it feels that bad sometimes. So many people, some of whom I’ll never know, some I’ll see every day while commuting, some I’ll never speak to but will always wonder and some I’ll unexpectedly connect with in a brief moment of – dare I say it – passion and excitement.
Trains are pretty miraculous, when you think about it.
Doors closing. Please stand clear.
I see a lot. The Saree shop. 8076. Jacaranda trees. Living in style furniture. Same same. Total tools. Instant cash. Granville. Auburn mosque. It’s going to rain.
I hear a lot. I wish you could hear what I hear. I can at least show you some of what I see, but there’s no camera that can show you the way I see it. When I left home, everything was glittering, bright, beautiful, shining. I live above the clouds. Come down, come in. The clouds are heavy and thick and threatening. And I forgot my umbrella. Well, I remembered it, but I don’t have it. Damn.
Did you miss the Writers Q & A last night? Wish you were part of the audience? Luckily for you it’s available as a podcast that you can download here!
Bronte Kelso-Marsh has ever so kindly written a blog post for A View From Moving Windows. Bronte Kelso-Marsh is a journalist, photo journalist and writer of Bronte Roams.
It is generally not socially acceptable to press your body against that of a perfect stranger. But on a train these social values are not usually upheld. People step onto the busy carriage and push their way against the bustle of busy people, all in a hurry, going places. Like a gladiator, the people entering the carriage battle their way through the throng of people, only to find their back pressed against the train door, begging silently that they won’t open up behind them, throwing them out again.
When the train takes off with an almighty whoosh, the inhabitants are thrown forward, suddenly falling, proof of Newton’s laws and gravity. Help is sought by grabbing the shoulder of whoever stands next to them, suddenly rendering the stranger an accidental hero, a Good Samaritan, a saviour from a world of embarrassment. And suddenly they’re bonded, comrades in the battle against the throng of people, all battling to get to work, dear friends if only for a minute.
The carriage is a plethora of smells. The lady in the lacy dress smells of flowers, on her way to man the expensive stores in the city. Young girls in tight clothes still smell of vodka and cigarettes, the evidence of the habits of the youth. Women with young children on their hips still smell of coffee and sleep, milk stains still visible on their shirt collars from a morning spent making lunches and managing households. The minutes taken to get to the station are their only respite in the day.
The teenage couple in the aisle kiss, unabashed despite their large audience. Their intertwined bodies are cumbersome to the aisles and the people around them. But their kisses soon break, if only for the young Romeo to offer his Juliette the lone train seat that has become available.
As the train zooms by the world quickly becomes a moving blur. Young children stare out the windows in wonder as their concrete world becomes a moving kaleidoscope of colour. Their knees are balanced carefully on the coloured seats; their mother’s begging them to just sit down properly. But their pleas fall deaf on the ears of a delighted child who stares at wonder at the world which passes them by.
Ildiko Susany is an actor and writer. A View From Moving Windows is her first Augusta Supple production. Ildiko has written, co-produced and performed in her first full-length play, The Day the Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died for the Sydney Fringe Festival 2012 and will be touring with Bell Shakespeare Company in 2013. She has written reviews for Artshub, will participate in Griffin Theatre’s Story Lab Program, runs a blog project Making It. and has been a guest blogger for the Griffin Theatre Artist Blog. You can view the rest of her biography here.
I’ve caught a fair few trains in my time. And buses. And trams. I must admit, I do love accepting lifts! Sometimes I’ll even get behind the wheel myself. I’ve caught trains across Queensland, Sydney, New York, Vancouver, London, Europe and Japan. Sydney is a fascinating place. It’s big, it’s bustling and it’s brimming with a most magnificent diversity of culture and art.
I remember my first train adventure in Sydney well – I decided to road trip it with two friends overnight from Brisbane to Sydney and we were on the road within two hours of our initial brainwave! We parked in a random suburb that I had never heard of before, Pymble, at about 7am, tired and excited, and then caught a train into the city. It was the first time I had ever seen a double-decker train in person. I was amazed (and easily impressed as it might seem) by what to me was such an incredible feat of transportation design! I couldn’t even imagine such a high density of commuters to requisite such a stalwart machine. In Tokyo, maybe. That was seven years ago. It was a great adventure and one I still look fondly on today. Our 24-hour whirlwind adventure!
And now? Well, for the past few weeks I have been rehearsing for A View From Moving Windows, an engaging melting pot of stories that weave together the personal, the whimsical and the very curious aspects of life through the lens of train travel. As part of my rehearsal process (and for practical reasons too) I have been catching the train to and from Parramatta for nearly every single rehearsal and performance so far. These train trips have given me the chance to learn lines and stare wistfully out of the window, to admire the buildings, the people and the landscape with nothing but the whir of the train and my own thoughts to keep me company. I have been able to observe my fellow commuters and witness some very interesting moments of human connection: the tough chick, who, whilst endeavouring to impress her friends picked on a younger girl for simply being intrigued by the ‘cool’ older kids obnoxiously lording over the train carriage; the friendly woman who helped out a visiting businessman from Newcastle; or the desperate woman at Parramatta station crying and pleading into a payphone to not let her go to jail because she had a kid, before fleeing hurriedly to the platforms. We never can tell what might happen to us in our day and how people, how humans can surprise us, enrage us or even, enlighten us. There were some very serious moments to witness, dramatic ones, humorous ones as well as the gloriously mundane. These moments have been very beautiful, interesting and revealing, and I guess, are part of what makes A View From Moving Windows feel like such a personal experience filled with something familiar, something extraordinary and something relevant to everyone!
Yet despite all of this, despite the interactions I have noticed over the past month, despite my own thoughts that have carried me from Central to Parramatta, one of the greatest and most magical parts of this wonderful, crazy, moving process has been the delightful and surprising opportunities I’ve had to bond with my fellow cast members. On the train. A friend of mine likens these sorts of situations to ‘speed dating’. You are brought into a close situation with someone that you don’t know very well and have only a short time to get to know that other person, to ask questions, learn something new and fresh and interesting and to offer something great and valuable too! It’s been a whole lot of fun! Whether it was running frantically with Helen and Min – in inappropriate shoes – for the next train back to Central or embarrassingly getting myself caught in the ticket barrier with Alex looking on, I’ve had a great chance to get to know a bunch of wonderful new people and form some really positive relationships offstage. The cast and crew on this project are absolutely delightful and it has been a great experience getting to know them all. Come see their work, it’s beautiful and thoroughly engrossing. And the writing is poignant, sweet and funny.
I have loved my train trips. I love my train buddies. And I love the chance to perform for the first time in the beautiful Riverside Theatres in the bustling, beaming and ever burgeoning cultural hub that is Parramatta! This show is about people, the little experiences, and the connections we make with those around us. As my character in John AD Fraser’s About Face says: “it’s closer to the heart…” So catch the train, grab a loved one, or heck, why not start up a conversation with the commuter nestled beside you on the peak hour train – whatever you do, make the trip to Parramatta and get some culture in ya!
Today’s blog post is by Alison Rooke! Alison wrote ‘In the key of E’ for A View From Moving Windows. There is the opportunity to talk to Alison, and other A View From Moving Windows writers, at the Writers Q and A. This will be held tomorrow after the performance. Make sure you’ve booked your tickets!
We were all about trains.
Separate tracks carried us toward a city lit up by beauty and shameless self-promotion. Locked in silver carriages hurtling though places I would never visit, I’d primp and preen as if a hair out of place or a skirt not sitting perfectly on a hip would be the deciding factor in whether you loved me or not, noticed me or not.
In a class at the end of the tracks, I’d sit behind you, staring… that neck, the brown and white striped jumper you’d wear when it rained, the way you played with your hair, curly, twisting and pulling. I’d wish we could board a train and go to all the places in my head, where I was different and you loved me.
That Thursday. My mind a bubble of you, the sound of you laughing at a joke I’d made in class. You’d turned, nodded once. I smiled, looked away. You saw me.
That Thursday I caught the wrong train.
I was thinking about all the different platforms and suburbs that your train carried you past everyday and before I knew it, there I was, sitting in a carriage, on a train drifting past all those same stations. Your train.
My cheeks burned, my head buzzed. Your train smelt like coffee and burnt sugar.
Sydenham station. Sitting on the platform waiting for my train to arrive, to transport me back to where I belonged. Your face, your face, your face.
Your face in front of me. On the train, in front of me. You looking out the window. Looking at me on the platform. You right there. A sign. You saw me. You smiled and
raised a hand as the carriage eased out of the platform headed for beachside suburbs. I nodded once. You saw me.
You first kissed me on a train. A kiss so startling I laughed out loud into your mouth. You took the laugh in. Absorbed it, covered it with belonging. Your eyes opened a little wider and I loved you.
A row of carriages took you away. A thick and heavy summer night. The interstate rail line at Central, tracks nestled beneath a canopy of goodbyes. You, bouncing on your heels in excitement … me, gulping down fragments of empty.
The train sat, watching our farewell, quietly aware that it was about to carry you off to new stations, new experiences. Places you didn’t want to see with me.
You kissed me quick. You took none of me in. You nodded once and then you were gone.
We were all about trains.