My Time at Caravanserai « Canning Town Caravanserai

My Time at Caravanserai

I have never been to a place like Caravanserai before. When I first walked into the area, I was confused. I could not tell what it was. All I saw was a jumble of odd structures mixed into what looked like a garden. To the right of me fluttered some bright pink and orange pieces of cloth, to my left a combination of different color of flowers grew, and in front of me was this odd-looking palm tree with white palms. In a sense it was a stimulation overload—and it was magnificent.


As us Berkeley students where shown around, I was amazed by this tiny piece of land because of the large amount of amazing things that it was able to contain. On our tour we were shown everything from the Flitchyard, Fate’s Garden, Fireside Swing, Hecate’s Cave, and the Banquet Table. I was in awe by the fact that most everything we saw was made my hand and from recycled products, but I did not fully appreciate Caravanserai until I came back three days after my initial trip.


After the end of our tour, we ran into a woman walking into Caravanserai and she told us that she was one of the actors in Macbeth, the play that was opening that night at Caravanserai. Being an avid Shakespeare lover with an especially strong taste for Macbeth, I decided to come back on one of the three days that the play was running. So, on Saturday evening, the closing night of the show, I returned with a friend to see what would be one of the most creative and interesting portrayals of Shakespeare’s famous play.


Before the show began, my friend and I grabbed some of the dinners cooked at Caravanserai, and that was an experience of its own. The vegetables, which were grown in Caravanserai’s gardens, we deliciously prepared and the accompanying dishes were just as incredible. While we were eating, we were able to dine at “London’s longest table” which was decorated by candlelight. Actually, most all of the light was created from candles and the multiple fires, adding to the beautiful and warming aesthetic. In this light, all the structures were portrayed in a warming glow, making it feel as if it was a bit of a wonderland, not a plot located right outside the Canning Town Tube station.


When the show began, the magic only continued to grow. The show was portrayed by only three actresses, which added an interested and unseen dimension to the usually male-dominant play. The performance soon became a bit of reality as the audience was brought into the show, having us go to different locations within Caravanserai to see different scenes. We were able to join in on the feast where Macbeth falls deeper into his hysteria of guilt, and when everything began to completely unravel, some us audience members were even splattered with blood, taking away an interesting and unexpected souvenir.


As my friend and I began to walk home, we were troubled by the fact that the Caravanserai would soon be closing, but were grateful to have been able to experience all that it had to offer.


Sarah Bianchi

University of California, Berkeley