We're back on the road, baby!
Our first stop for this winter leg is the Sunset Theater in Asheboro, NC. We toured here last year.
It has The Table: a charming farm-to-table, fast casual restaurant. I had the best French toast of my life at this very place a year ago. For lunch, I opted with the avocado BLT and the delicious coffee. The next day, they were out of the French toast, but the sausage/pepper/onion omelette with potatoes on the side was tasty tasty tasty.
We had performances of Julius Caesar and The Importance of Being Earnest. It was kind of tricky getting used to the swing of things. I imagine the cobwebs will be gone soon. But I felt pretty good about our time at the Sunset.
I must give a shout-out to the North Carolina Zoo. It's largely open-air for all the animals. They have a lot of space to roam. The sun was shining and the animals were active. A keeper tossed a bunch of carrots and sweet potatoes to a 12,000-pound African elephant (named Ardie or something like that). Year-old lions gnawed on meaty bones. Lemurs licked each other (all over the place). A youngster chimpanzee wrestled with an elder. A rhino growled at another. I had a blast. If you're ever near Asheboro, check out the zoo and eat at The Table.
Lynchburg, VA – Academy Center of the Arts
We played Julius Caesar to a giant warehouse/black box space in downtown Lynchburg. There were three stadium seating banks on three sides of the playing space. It was giant! I saw that the room had the capacity for 700+ people, and most of the seats were filled. We're used to squeezing the shows in some tighter spots, but this allowed us to expand, which made for some LONG crosses on the stage.
I also enjoyed the short (but cold) walks to the White Hart Cafe. Get the breakfast bagel sandwich. Trust me on this. I expect to take a lot more long walks when the weather permits. I'm trying to read (or listen) to at least 8 of the 17 Tournament of Books shortlist. Currently, I'm listening to The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. I'm reading The Whites by Harry Brandt (aka Richard Price). I'm turning over some ideas about to creatively highlight my reading experience here. I'll keep you posted. So far, I've already read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
(October 11 – 17)
We spent the week in Vermont and New York City—again, an embarrassment of riches.
St. Michael's College has easily the top five dining halls on the tour. I had choice anxiety. Do I want the burrito, the chicken tikka masala, the salad bar, the sweet potato/black bean soup, the pizza, the paninis, the stir fry?
After our performance of HENRY V, the English Department hosted a dinner with faculty, students, and the president of the college. They love to wine and dine us. I'm so grateful for the chance to sit down and chat with the professors and students. We don't often get to interact at length with the folks on the road in this way.
Burlington, Vermont is awesome. I hopped on a bus to travel downtown. Returned to a favorite spot from last year: The Skinny Pancake, which is a creperie with great coffee and tasty beer on tap. I sat down and started reading Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City. (It's brilliant.) I wandered around Winooski, and paid way too much for a cheeseburger, but it was near-life-changing and that makes it priceless, right? Later that evening, I returned with some tour mates for local beer and the “acoustic soul” styling of Josh Panda. He plays at the Skinny Pancake every Wednesday night. A grand cap to the day off.
After Vermont, we headed to the Bronx to set up the space for a performance of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at Manhattan College. Then we traveled to Yonkers to check into the hotel. After that, a few of us went to Harlem for a reunion with some friends. The next day, I slept as much as I could (it's been go-go-go lately). That night was a fun performance of EARNEST. The front row was full of friends from grad school and beyond. We managed to cram into a crowded Bronx bar afterward to catch up. I was exhausted, but it was worth it.
October 4 – 10
Canton, New York
Beautiful country. Beautiful campus (St. Lawrence University). This is one of the longest stays on tour. We did a dozen workshops (I had three myself) and five performances across the week. It was busy, but there was a nice amount of downtime. And we could walk to The Bagelry!
Susie, Josh, Cordell, and I went on a hike along some river on our day off. The weather was cool and overcast, but it allowed all of the autumn colors to pop. The sun poked through the trees toward the end of hike. It was a tough one (not that I go on a lot). But there were a lot of steep hills and stairs. The pictures give a pretty good glimpse. I'm so glad I elected to get out of the hotel room for this one.
On Saturday, I attempted to be as restful as possible. We had a double-header: JULIUS CAESAR at 7:30 and then EARNEST at Midnight. We probably had 90 minutes in between shows. Whenever we do CAESAR, it wipes me out. The only extended break I have is during the oration speeches. And even then, I'm putting on my armor for the second half. There's the tent scene, the birthday speech, the fight, and then the death. It's kinetic, passionate stuff. I love it, but it takes a lot out of me. So the thought of doing EARNEST right after that (and that late at night) was daunting. I should say, this midnight show is a tradition for the ASC and St. Lawrence University. I'm probably mistaken, but I think it started as a Halloween tradition. Anyway, we did both. We made it out alive. Things were admittedly punchy and loopy toward the end of EARNEST. The wonderful folks at St. Lawrence (shout-out to Sarah Barber) provided the troupe with plenty of snacks and drinks.
This week I enjoyed reading the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's “autobiographical novel” My Struggle. He has six volumes in total of them, each around 400+ pages (not all are in English yet). Some folks are calling him Norway's answer to Proust.
(September 27 - October 3)
At the time of writing: it's hour two of an eight-hour drive from Presque Isle, Maine to Colchester, Vermont. The country is glorious. The foliage is fading green with pops of gold, burnt orange, and cranberry. At night, it reaches to 40 degrees, which is a shock. I bought a pair of cheap gloves from the Walmart across the way from the Hampton Inn a couple nights ago. That we get to travel throughout New England in the fall nearly makes this contract worth it.
Hartwick College is perched high on a hill in Oneonta, New York. It's Catskills country. The view from the theatre building is stunning (I've tried to take pictures, but it they don't do the view any credit). The dining hall has lots of options, which is always great.
Simply Thai – the best drunken noodles I have ever had. I remember this meal from a year ago; it made that much of an impression on me. I ordered them again, and they were still delicious (but not as life-changing as I remember them to be). Memory has a way of amplifying things, I suppose.
Blood Moon Eclipse – The theatre students at Hartwick helped us load-out from an Earnest performance in record time. Just as the truck was packed up, the red moon disappeared for a brief time and returned. It was spectacular.
Rhode Island College & Providence Rhode Island – I'd never been to Providence before. We stayed at a swanky hotel near the capitol building. Rhode Island College has a wonderful stage. The tour has never made this stop before. It's fun to see students' eyes light up while we play any given song for pre-show our interlude. Whole Foods was close to the hotel, and that warms my heart. I love their buffet. It can get expensive, but piling on garlic green beans, fried plantains, cous cous salad, curried chicken, and any other eclectic foods is a boon for me.
Roxbury Latin School – this is an all-boys prep school in the Boston area. If I'm not mistaken, it's the oldest school in the country. We played a matinee of CAESAR for the whole school on Friday. I think they had a good time. We haven't done any high school performances on the road so far, so it was interesting to get a different perspective from this crew. One of my favorite moments is hearing the gasps when we stab Caesar. My stab is particularly gruesome. I'll spare the gory details. You'll have to see for yourself. I think the guys dug it.
Staying near a giant movie theater – we had some time off in the Boston area. It was dreadfully rainy the whole time. I would've liked to explore more of the city, but my foot's been giving me some troubles, so I vied for seeing some movies. I saw the second Maze Runner movie (which was quite fun, actually) and The Martian. Last year, a bunch of us passed around the book to read. And so I had to see the movie. It was funny and suspenseful. A great cast. I recommend both the movie and the book. The book has a lot more hard science (and way more nail-biting). The movie fleshes out the characters better.
Here are some highlights from week two of the 2015/16 Dangerous Dreams tour.
Episcopal High School
Our first stop was at Episcopal HS in Alexandria, VA. It was a lovely campus (a boarding school--tuition is expensive to say the least). I gotta say, their dining hall food was delicious: grilled chicken breast, perfectly cooked bow-tie pasta with a delicious sauce.
We get to see a lot of beautiful schools, and Loyola's is no exception. Their Tudor-style admissions center is awesome (I should've taken a picture). We also got to perform all three of the plays, which is always nice. Also, the shows are finally feeling...settled for me. Maybe comfortable is a better word. I've been working on some of them since April. So it's wonderful to relax and let 'em roll.
The wharf is awesome. There's a giant Barnes & Noble which is in a building that used to be a power plant. The National Aquarium is fantastic. Some of us wandered around the Baltimore Book Festival on Friday morning. There were therapy dogs at the top of the Baltimore World Trade Center. The American Visionary Arts Museum is full of eccentric, zany, intricate work.
RavenBeer – The Cask
As in Poe's “Cask of Amontillado”--get it? The hotel bar had this local beer available, and it's a pretty tasty double bock.
The original cast recording of the new musical dropped, and many of us are obsessed with it. I can't even begin to describe why it's so brilliant. But it's a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, the founding of the United States, and his feud with Aaron Burr. I've been playing the soundtrack non-stop and hearing new things with every listen. It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I only wish the Broadway tickets weren't $400.
We've been out on the road for six days. Sometimes, it felt like I had aged a year (I slept so much yesterday). There were also moments when it felt like I had never left last year's tour (only some of the people are different). Regardless, notable moments abound, and I'm going to do my best to track those each week.
Shout-out to the middle-aged woman singing along to our rendition of Muse's “Uprising” before Julius Caesar. She didn't seem like Muse would be her cup of tea, but she was rocking out to the chorus.
We drove through a lot of the state during this first leg. The Blue Ridge Mountains are sublime, and more so when fog wrapped around them.
Hollins University Crowd
We were in a gymnasium, on raised platforms (which is a tricky situation, given all of the quick-changes, furniture, and armor/weapons we have for the play). It was one of the hottest, sweatiest performances I've done (we're wearing a lot of layers). The young women who attend Hollins are superfans of the ASC. The tour's been going to Hollins for a long time. Many of them knew the words to all of the songs we were playing. Some kind of Shakespeare cheer erupted during our curtain call.
The Inn at Wise – Wise, VA
A gorgeous, newly restored inn! The walls and rooms are full of paintings, photos, and prints from local artists.
I don't know if Phil prepared the catfish for us. But he at least tracked it down for us, and it was absolutely delicious. (Phil is one of our contacts at UVa-Wise. He takes great care of us.)
We're 12 type As with some giant hearts. We're still figuring out our tour groove (which is nigh-impossible since there's no typical day on the road). But the drive and care we have is a boon.
News, updates, quotes, and other miscellany.
Books Read 2018
Books Read 2017
Books Read 2016
Books Read 2015
Movies Watched 2018
Movies Watched 2017
Movies Watched 2016
Movies Watched 2015