Snow Days on the Road
An ice storm has invaded Murray State University (Murray, KY) where the Method in Madness tour is staying. A couple weeks ago we were on Daytona Beach! The weather wasn't all that Florida glorious at the time, but it wasn't threatening to cancel shows like it is in Murray.
Given that I'm stranded, I thought I'd share some goings-on.
For those who don't know, I'm part of the touring troupe with the American Shakespeare Center. We've got 11 actors and 1 tour manager trekking across the country with a repertory of three plays: Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. We've got one month left on the road before we return to Staunton, VA at the Blackfriars Playhouse. There, we'll continue the three-show rep and add David Davalos's Wittenberg to the mix.
Enough about that.
I am in love with Austin and Nashville. The food, music, and people are top-notch.
I went to the Punch Brothers concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It was one of the best live music experiences of my life. I don't go to a lot of shows, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was electrifying and effortlessly engaging. The album is on constant repeat on my wee iPod nano. The Punch Brothers offer a progressive-bluegrass-jazz-classical—oh whatever—it's not enough to label them. Listen to the music, see a show, and have your life changed.
I had a chance to see something truly weird: Thr3e Zisters by the Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin. It was the act of bringing zombies to Chekhov's play and smashing the whole thing with a hammer. I usually keep my theatre-going toward the more traditional, so attending some new garage band/indie theatre was a breath of fresh air. The performances were compelling and the design was wonderful. They had lights! Sound! Set! (We don't really use those things at the ASC.)
These two cities, in particular, have got me thinking more about the communities of artists across the country. One of these days (who knows when), I'll likely root down somewhere. I'm not saying it'll be one of these two (but I'm not saying it won't be either).
I'm rallying through a bunch of books. I'm reading A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons at the same time. A nerd compiled a suggested reading order for these books (they happen at the same time, but the characters featured in each are different). So now, I don't have to slog through 1000 pages before I get to a Tyrion chapter. It's gone well so far, but it's not the easiest to just pick up with our jagged touring schedule.
So when I get sick of the dragons and slaughter, I've finished The Martian by Andy Weir and Us by David Nicholls and Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby.
The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney who is stranded on Mars. His crew thought he was dead. They left him behind. They were wrong. So, he uses his science genius to survive until some help arrives. Will he make it? The book is dense with chemistry/weather/math—stuff that actors tend to avoid. But I was able to track most of it it. He comes with some really close calls. It was genuinely thrilling at times. There's strangely not a lot of heart or emotional density.
Us packs a more emotional punch while blending in some hilarious bits. Douglas plans a European art tour with his wife and troubled son. His wife wants to separate, so he uses this holiday to bring the family closer. Disaster ensues. I enjoyed the locales (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Spain) and the voice of a pretty neurotic biologist. He manages to screw up a lot of his relationships, but it's great to get inside of his head. You understand why things happen, which I think is important for many stories (if not all).
Ten Years in the Tub is Hornby's collection of every column he wrote for The Believer. Every month (well...not every month) he wrote a list of the books he bought and the books he read (ten years' worth). Hornby's enthusiasm for reading is infectious. He's witty and has some incredibly odd reading habits. You could say this post is a riff on that.
We have a few weeks left on the tour. Let's see if the country thaws out by then.
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