On Monday the 14th of April, at the beginning of Holy Week in Newton Dee, a big group of 22 Norwegian visitors arrived. They had come from Trondheim, from the acting group Integretto, on the second part of an exchange project financed by the EU Youth in Action Programme. A similar group of Newton Dee actors and co-workers had gone to Trondheim last June to participate in acting workshops and have a nice holiday in Norway.
Now they were here for a week’s visit. They were staying across the river at the Ardoe House Hotel, which they called “their castle”. Every day they came to Newton Dee to work in our workshops and eat lunch in our houses. Each day two different people from the group came to Orion to have lunch with us. We also did drama workshops with them in the afternoons, doing the play “Differences” that they brought with them, going on outings to Balmoral Castle in the Highlands, and to Aberdeen for sightseeing, shopping and fish-and-chips, and watching the Newton Dee film with them as well as dancing at a ceilidh together.
Fitting into their play, a series of sketches about what it means to be “different” if you’re labelled “disabled”, was hard work, but lots of fun. They had been rehearsing since last November, so they all knew their parts really well. We had to each take two parts, but the Integretto actors did most of the acting. I got to be a chicken chasing after a rooster with all the other hens, and a dancer.
Each day was full to the brim with activities. We had a schedule sent round before they came, explaining clearly all the events we could join in with during the week. We could choose which ones we wanted to join. I think my favourite was the outing to Balmoral Castle on Good Friday. The sun shone all day. It was great to walk around and talk to the Norwegians, who were very impressed by the beautiful grounds and house of the Queen. I enjoyed their company very much. They were a good group of people to get to know.
After we said a sad farewell to them on Easter Monday, we knew we had made some lasting friendships. I hope we can see them again, either in Norway or if they come to visit Scotland someday.