Sunday, January 29, 2006

Day Off - 1/29/06

Dorm RoomFairmont, VA - Upon waking up this morning, the sound of rain pattering off the roof combined with the grey light struggling to peek through the blinds meant I had a tough decision to make. Should I go out on the field trip arranged by some of the theatre students to a local state park for hiking and sightseeing? Or should I play it safe, nurse my aching and dripping sinuses, and stay in bed for another hour? Well, the fact that I am writing this at the moment already tells you what decision I made. I wussed out and decided to linger in bed that extra hour. It's a bit disappointing, since I really enjoy hiking and wanted to get somewhere off campus before I left Fairmont, and the last four days have really been sunny and relatively warm. But I felt I couldn't take the risk to go out in damp 40-degree weather. I've really not the gear for it, and I can't risk catching another cold. So, having already poured and downed the cup of coffee that I saved in my thermos from yesterday (still a bit warm!), I decided to spend this hour before the Falcon Center opens for breakfast writing in the blog and catching you up with the rest of the week. Always thinking of my reader(s).

Wallman TheatreWe've completed our set of evening performances, and I must say that the audience response has been incredibly effusive. We're a big hit in Fairmont. The Thursday night performance of Planet was greeted with much laughter and enjoyment. Greg's William Shatner imitations brought down the house. But it was a funny show in some respects plagued with these little troubles: Alyssa's first dress had a busted zipper, so she had to wear Jessica's dress from MA; Greg's uniform pants split right up the crotch during my first entrance and song, and when I finished the number he was gone from the stage, so we all had to do a little ad-libbing until he returned in jeans and his leather jacket over his uniform top; I forgot my X-Factor bottle and so had to empty a pill vial backstage as a substitute. Stuff like that. Richard III was greeted with attentive seriousness. I believe they liked Andrew's weird humor in his characterization, and it was a good audience in that the lanuage held their attention.Group Photo FairmontMuch Ado was greeted with a storm of audience laughter and enthusiasm that was off the charts. We had to hold for laughter so many times in Much Ado that I think we added maybe 10 minutes or more to the running time. We also got a late start because the line to get in and see the show was out the building. The house was sold out. They told me backstage after the gulling scene with Benedick that it took me 90 seconds to get out the line "My Lord, will you walk?" which concludes the scene. Tyler had ended up in the audience with his butt sticking up in the air over a row of seats, and Daniel, Greg and I lost it on stage, me most of all , I guess. I made one attempt to get the final line out, but the audience just continued to laugh at the sight of Tyler in the air like that. Just about every funny line in the play was greeted with gales of laughter. It was almost surreal. And when we got to the wedding scene and the rejection of Hero, you could hear a pin drop. It was quite a way to wrap up three nights of performances. On top of that, last night Jessica and I (with Alyssa's help) sold $617.00 worth of merchandise, which I believe has to be an all-time record for a single night's sales on any tour. The two autographed copied of the Arden MA scripts went, we are out of small tour T-shirts, mugs, etc. When we packed up our merch bins the amount of room now in the was surprising. So all in all, I think we have made quite an impression in Fairmont, and I'm sure the company will be visiting here again. The people were wonderful: Rhonda, our contact, was phenomenal, the theatre is a great space in which to perform, the theatre staff and students were helpful in every way, the college president and his wife came to see all three shows (when has that ever happened on any of our tour stops?), and the audiences were super. Given the right sort of cultivation, this stop could become as much of a "rock star" stop as Shreveport or St. Lawrence University. All they have to do is give us better accommodations and life here for a week would be outstanding. Nice job, Fairmont!

Life apart from the shows has been at times relaxing and at times boring. The Nashville group (Chris, Greg, Alyssa Jessica and myself) had a rehearsal Friday for our gig which went very well. I still have some work to do on learning "Go Now" but I think we sound very good. Falcon CenterOther than that it's pretty much about sitting in the Falcon Center, chilling, surfing the web, some workshops, eating, working out. After a treadmill session I walked the campus yesterday (sunny and 56 degrees) and took some shots around the campus, which you can see on my Flickr Photo page (you can also click the badge on the sidebar). I also converted some movies which I'll put up on the movie page probably sometime later today. Today is the company day off, and there's not much to do again other than getting my laundry done this afternoon and packing up. We are leaving early tomorrow morning - 6:00 AM - so as to get into Chicago by maybe 5:00 PM and have an evening in the Windy CIty. We have a very quick gig in Chicago, and then off to Iowa and Minnesota (Fairmont, MN in fact!). Please, powers that be, let it not be snowing up in MN.

And finally, before I forget, I'd like to thank all those Fredonia alum who wrote to TV Tomme following Eddie's Fish Night. I've gotten a lot of pictures and some email messages from you all which I am going to respond to very soon. I see from some of the pictures that my image was scattered throughout the party. Leave it to Eddie Schneller to think of a somewhat excessive but very touching and loving way to get my presence into the party. Thanks, Ed - and thanks to all who who wrote and those who attended that made it a special night for all. I am sure Tim had as wonderful a time as the rest of you. -TWL

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mountains and Valleys - 1/26/06

Fairmont, WV - The stay so far in West Virginia has certainly been one of highs and lows. So far I'd have to say that the high has been the President's reception on Sunday evening when we arrived, and meeting all the good people we've met so far at Fairmont State who have been eager to welcome us and make us feel at home. The low has been being cooped up in my dorm room most of Tuesday with a touch of the flu. Today I am just recovering, having managed to make my way through Wednesday as well. But it was no fun.

So, to bring you up to date: The reception was very nice. President Dan Bradley and President Blair Montgomery of Fairmont State Community College gave us a nice welcome, along with members of the faculty and arts community. Dan was kind enough to have the playoff games on his wide-screen TV (we are in serious Steelers country) so we managed to catch the football games while socializing. The food was terrific - roast beef, some fancy chicken, meat pies and assorted vegetables - and there was an open bar. I am afraid I have to report that I consumed three alcoholic beverages - a martini and two gin and tonics - and not having had that much to drink in quite a long time probably contributed to my brief illness.

We have had three matinees of Much Ado this week, and so on Monday morning we got right to it. They were all supposed to start at 10:00 AM but schools came late so none of them really started on time. On Monday we started the show about 20 minutes late with one of the schools still not there. They came in so far into the play that I find it hard to believe they got anything out of it. But there they were nonetheless. All the matinees had Q&As after them, and the questions ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. One young kid asked so intelligent a question on Tuesday that it took us all by surprise, comparing the idea of realism with Shakespeare's use of language. And Alyssa was asked by one smarmy kid if she was single. That's the paradox of doing school shows: you have to do them because the kids are the hope of building theatre audiences for the future, but at the same time the large percentage of them won't be affected in any way at all and just find small ways to be obnoxious. So it goes.

So anyway, after Monday's performance, I had lunch and then, during the day, began to feel weaker and weaker. By about 5:00 I knew I was coming down with something, so I started to take everything I could find. There's a lot of stuff out there, I've found: Airborne, Emergen-Cee, Dayquil, Nyquil, all sorts of pills and vitamins. I had Jessica take me to Rite-Aid after the workshop and bought a bottle of 1000mg Vitamin Cs as well as some daytime cold pill. I got back to the dorm room and climbed into my tiny little bed and tried to go to sleep. Now, living in the dorms has been, shall we say, unpleasant. The dorm I am in is a 1960s style corridor dorm showing its age. The bathroom is halfway down the hall. It's almost like I've been transported to my undergraduate dorm days, except I'm not quite 19 anymore, and it's a LONG walk to the bathroom when you have to pee out all the liquids you've been taking every 20 minutes. Plus the dorm is not exactly quiet, nor is the heat easy to control. The air is so hot and dry that I had to shut the heat completely off in order to breathe, and with the thin blankets they gave us, I have to dress fairly warm in order to sleep. I did manage to get some sleep over the nightly 2AM din, and got up to do the Tuesday matinee feeling pretty shitty.

I did get through the matinee performance OK, sweating quite a bit, but that probably got some more sickness out. I swapped out workshop times with Jessica and immediately had some lunch and went back to my room. Now I suppose a dorm room isn't too bad if you've got a bunch of your stuff in there and made it your home, but with nothing in the room but my suitcase and me it's kind of barren and sterile. So between trying to sleep, pee, and eat I found that my computer was a good source of entertainment. I watched a number of Northern Exposure episodes, listened to public radio and some of my music as well. I called home and also talked with Eric a bit, which passed the time. This time I knocked myself out with some Nyquil and got a good night's sleep, so that when I got up to do Wednesday's matinee I felt a bit better. I took some Dayquil before the show, and that helped as well. After eating lunch Wednesday I felt well enough to sit in the student center and pass the time before my evening workshop rather than return to my room. I did not have to get up early this morning for a matinee, so today I feel better yet, although I haven't tried to sing. Yesterday, when I started talking, all the phlegm started coming up from my lungs, so I had a few coughing fits. But so far today so good - I haven't taken anything but my vitamins, and I have nothing to do until tonight's show. Now we do each of our shows over then next three nights, and then a day off and a drive to Chicago on Monday.

I suppose being sick the past few days has colored my impressions of Fairmont a bit, but notwithstanding my illness, the place is both a nice place to stay and sort of depressing at the same time. The Falcon Center, where I am right now as I write this, is a very nice complex housing all the common activities. The dining hall, workout center, basketball courts, student center, bookstore, minimart and gameroom are all here. It is clearly the place to hang when you have nothing to do in particular, and it's a cool place to be. The dorm's internet connection is rather lousy; I suspect the bandwidth is very low and there are some firewall controls on it, but in the Falcon Center the wireless connection is nice and speedy, though there is a curious lack of power outlets. I've not had the energy to much exploring of the campus other than the center. The college itself is not in close proximity to any sort of shopping or downtown area, so going to any off-campus hangouts requires a bus trip or something, and again, I haven't the energy for that. I've also not worked out at all to conserve energy, but hopefully I can pick that up again starting tomorrow. I want to get into the sauna this afternoon before the show to clear out all the nasal passages and such. I'll probably get to the library sometime, but other than that being confined to the campus is sort of, well, confining. I have no idea what I'm going to do on Sunday's day off. I can't imagine there's a lot to do on campus on Sunday, nor much happening downtown. I thought of renting a car and driving up to Pittsburgh for the day, but of course that costs $$$ and I'm a little low on funds at the moment. I suppose I should look at it as an opportunity to fine-tune my video page and do some tagging and fill in descriptions of my photo site. Why not?

This is the first time Blackfriars has visited Fairmont State, and I hope we are making a good enough impression to get a contract from them for next year. The people have been very nice. Rhonda, our main contact, has been to Staunton a number of times, and I can tell she's very excited to have us here. Workshop attendance has been a bit small but enthusiastic. I met a few theatre students and they are excited to have us here as well, which is a good sign. On balance I would say this is a good stop, and had I not gotten sick I'm sure I'd like it here a lot. The theatre itself is a nice place to play, almost perfect in many ways for what we do. it's a small, acoustically good space which seats about 400, although it doesn't look like that at all. We've been able to use their laundry facilities for company laundry, and since I'm one of the laundry captains this week that's been a blessing. In fact, this place has done everything right so far with the exception of the dorm rooms, which I think nobody really likes. Now that I feel better, all I have to do is figure out how to spend my day with the least amount of time in the room, and I'm OK. I haven't got a lot of pictures yet of this place, but I'll start snapping again today and get some more pictures for you to see with the next post. I am looking forward to the evening performances for sure, as I think we're going to get some enthusiastic audiences. So I'll sign off now, get some lunch, a svitz and maybe a walk, and then off to Planet D'Ylliria. -TWL

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Anchors Aweigh - 1/22/06

Between Annapolis MD and Fairmont WV - A full week has past since I got back from vacation, and here on the road everything now seems once again quite familiar. I'm sitting in my "office" in the back of the passenger van typing out this particular post, listening to the BBC on XM Radio, while Kevin, Daniel and Andrew are having some sort of esoteric conversation. Lacking at the beginning of this leg is the initial excitement of the fall leg, but of course that's to be expected from us "seasoned road pros." We've done Much Ado once at Hot Springs VA (Bath County High School) and R3 once at Blue Springs Community College in Weyers Cave (about 15 minutes from Staunton) and twice at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis MD. We're now heading for a week's residence at Fairmont State College in Fairmont WV, where we do three 90-minute matinees of Much Ado for area high schools and then a weekend of all our shows at the college. We also have several workshops to do, so it will be quite a busy week. It's the first time the ASC has been to Fairmont. They are putting us up in dorm rooms, so it's from a beautiful motel in Annapolis to dorm living and campus food. It's almost an exact replica of the beginning of the fall tour, where we went from a nice motel in Elon NC to the shortened residence in Shreveport LA in the large house.

The time in Staunton before leaving got real busy. Wednesday was the trip to Hot Springs, and it was a cold but beautiful, sunny day. We went up "over the mountain" to Bath County, and apparently there is a hot spring there which is a major tourist attraction. We did not get a chance to visit the hot spring, but I think during the spring residence at the Blackfriars I'll be paying a visit up there. It's right in the Appalachian range maybe about 90 minutes SW of Staunton. The high school was set right in the mountains, and it was snowing a bit when we got there, but nothing accumulating. These 90-minute high school shows are a result of our NEA grant to bring Shakespeare into local high schools that would not ordinarily get a chance to see a live WS performance, and the stated mission is to keep language-based literature and entertainment alive in rural and remote regions. This also accounts for the HS performances coming up in Fairmont, which as I take it from looking at Google Earth (and if you don't have Google Earth, you should get it) is about 20 minutes or so SW of Morgantown WV. High school audiences are so varied in their responses that you never know what's coming. This audience was somewhat typical, with a mix of bored kids and some interested ones. They laughed at the humor when they finally realized it was OK to laugh, and were attentive and quiet (or asleep) during the dramatic parts. We did a Q&A with a selected group of students after the show and got the usual array of questions ("How do you memorize all those lines? How did you get into the company? What's your favorite role?"). Once sort of funny incident happened when one of our troupe members (who shall remain anonymous) had accidentally place costumes for Much Ado into the R3 garment bag, and so did not have the proper costumes. Adjustments were made, costumes were borrow and adapted, and all went well, except for the vain, aborted attempt Carie made to drive to Staunton to recover the proper costumes.

Thursday was spent accomplishing a lot of tasks in preparation for leaving Friday. I helped Joyce analyze her computer because it was running slow, and then met Jessica to get everything together to sell merchandise. I also ended up getting a flat tire during the day, so I had to go out to Wal-Mart and get that fixed. A few shopping trips, a small laundry load, a little errand to UPS to send a poster of Christmas Carol to my father, some packing, and then the show at Blue Springs CC that evening. A rather typical performance, set in a multipurpose room where we had to use the aisles for entrances. A good audience, somewhat subdued, with two women in the front row following along in their complete works until they got hopelessly lost trying to follow our cut. There was one guy sitting center right who was just loving it; every expression on his face was one of pure delight and involvement from moment to moment.

Friday was a very busy day. I got up early to collect my tire and put it back on the car so I could park it while off on the road. Then I got the passenger van suited up again for traveling with the power converter and the new 2-way radio setup with rechargeable cradles (no more batteries). Then I had to do final packing and moving stuff over to basement storage in 605. We left Staunton at around 11 AM for the trip to Annapolis and a 7:00 PM performance there.

Performing for the Brigade of Midshipmen was quite interesting. Apparently the first-year students - plebes - are the ones required to see the show. You initially think you're performing for a disciplined collection of well-trained and polite people, but in fact they are really college freshmen, 18-19-year-old boys in basically an all-male environment. The few female contingent of plebes do not seem to have any mollifying influence on the overall testosterone feeling of the gathering. The evening crowd on Friday night was rowdy as they gathered, and during the "house music" pre-show (in which I now play lead guitar!!) we could hardly hear ourselves play on stage over the din. During the pre-show that Greg and I do, when we announced that the seats on the stage were available for sitting, there was an actual scrum to get to the seats, and on stage right one of the chairs got knocked right off the stage as two guys fought over the seat. A little overenthusiastic. During the show they were somewhat attentive, and did get into the show when we needed audience response, but you could also see a significant number of them sleeping. But they really got into the last act during the war and fight sequences, and of course reacted with intense enthusiasm during the broadsword fight and subsequent death of Richard. Richmond's victory brought cheers aplenty, with a great cry of "Amen" to Richmond's call. So what they liked, they liked a lot. A nice reception with the members of the Foundation (our sponsor) was held after the Friday performance, and it was interesting tot talk to the military people and civilian members of the Humanities division. I got my picture taken with the Superintendent of the Academy, Vice Admiral Rodney Rempt. That's about the highest military brass I'll ever meet!

The Saturday performance for the other half of the plebe class was essentially the same, and you could tell that they had been briefed in some manner by their comrades. However, there were far more sleepers in the audience on Saturday morning - maybe almost a third of the audience was napping at one time or another. Favorite locations were the balcony and the back rows. But they were there again for the fight. it was quite interesting getting a small insight into the general atmosphere of a military academy. We also perform for the cadets at Virginia Military academy towards the end of the tour. That should be another interesting time.

The grounds of the academy are very beautiful, and after the Sat. matinee I stayed on campus to tour about. The Mahan Theatre itself it an interesting architectural sight, and many of the buildings on the campus are very solid in that sort of military granite way. I visited the crypt where John Paul Jones, apparently the primary iconic figure of the US Navy, is interred. The chapel, unfortunately, was closed for a wedding and I could not get in. Dalgren Hall, which houses an ice rink, was quite the place, and I had lunch there. The residence is off limits, so I went to the Visitor's Center. There was a nice view of the harbor there, and some history on the founding of the academy, as well as an exhibit honoring graduates of the academy who've been in the NASA program. I did get to see freedom 7, the Mercury space capsule which took Alan Shepard up into space. It is surprising how small that capsule is, just barely big enough for one man to sit in.

Annapolis is the MD state capital, and right downtown sits the Statehouse and various historical sites. Alex Haley's novel Roots identifies Annapolis as the place where Kunta Kinte first comes from Africa to the US, and there is a display to commemorate the event. The downtown harbor area is full of quaint shops and restaurants, and I decided to have dinner at Barry's Ribs and Crabs. I went for the all-you-can-eat buffet, which was OK but not spectacular. However, I did eat all I could of the crab legs, clams and shrimp as well as some of the other dishes. Some of the tables had whole Maryland-spiced crabs which looked quite good, but I did not mind being able to pass the time eating my fill. I should have taken some pictures of the statehouse, but I seem to be out of practice carrying my camera about. Annapolis is quite pretty but pricey, as you might expect a DC-area place to be. I had breakfast this morning in what must be a well-known "delly" in the area, very old-fashioned and quaint. And then off to Fairmont.

Fairmont, WV - So we got into Fairmont and after settling into our nice comfortable dorm room (add sarcasm here) we were trundled off to the President's house, where we had quite a nice reception. I'll do more about the reception and the living situation in a later post, because for tonight I think I've had it. Besides, the internet connection in the dorms here is pretty slow and miserable, so hopefully I can get this posted at all.

By the way, a special HELLO tonight to Cathy Wilmoth, Alyssa's mother, who I understand is a regular reader. Alyssa is doing fine and says hello to you. Here's a nice picture of her at Annapolis, waving Hi just to you. -TWL

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fish Party Greetings - 1/21/06

Annapolis, MD - The following is an audio post greeting for all those attending the Fish Night reunion to celebrate Tim Jensen's life. I only wish I could be there in person. Have a great evening, all!! -TWL

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, January 16, 2006

Act IV: The Winter Leg - 1/16/05

Staunton, VA - Vacation is over, and with this, the 50th post to this blog, Act IV The Winter Leg begins. Let the rejoicing begin! I am writing this in between brush-up rehearsals of Richard III and Much Ado About Nothing, so I may not get in as much as I want, but I felt I had to get the ball rolling again because I suspect that by tonight I will be too tired to write much of anything. Besides, at the moment I have internet access only by modem at my new digs, so better to write this in the theatre with wireless broadband than a modem connection.

We all arrived yesterday, although I got in late because on Saturday I had to take Eric to an audition he had lined up at the University of Cincinnati, and that was a round trip from Dunkirk and back. About 11 hours in the car for a ten-minute audition. Such is theatre. Then I drove to Staunton early Sunday morning after asking permission to arrive a little late. I got to the theatre just in time to catch the matinee of Greater Tuna with Paul Fidalgo and Jessica Dunton playing all the character (although Joyce Peifer has a pretty big role in the show as well). Funny stuff. Then a music rehearsal for Planet and a run of Planet. Then unpacking and some sleep. Everyone looked pretty much the same. Andrew arrived with a mustache, but shaved it off today already. Chris hasn't shaved, and I trimmed my beard down. Many people mentioned that I looked even skinnier, but I think the lack of a beard is creating an optical delusion. Over the vacation I did my best to watch my weight, but also did some indulging as well. I only got out to walk once because the weather, as grey as it was, was never inviting. Of course there were greetings all around, but as soon as everyone got back to business it seems like we never left. Two weeks seems like an awful long time until it's over, and then it feels like it never happened.

We do not actually leave for the road until Friday, when we travel up to Annapolis MD and perform for the Naval Academy. The veterans tell us that the audiences there are somewhat unreceptive. I've never been to the Naval Academy, so it should prove an interesting visit. Then our next stop is in Fairmont WV, where we spend a full week doing workshops and shows. So it begins.

I am now living at 607 W. Beverley, the actors complex. I am in the east downstairs room at 607. It's small, but it has its own bathroom. The desk in the room sucks. It's something like a convertible chair that doubles as a desk. The kitchen is on the second floor, so I have to climb two flights of stairs to get there. It is better than going outside. When we do Act V - In Residence - that will be my space for the duration. One great disadvantage of the space is that it has only one window, which does not face south and is covered by a porch. Hence I will probably get poor satellite reception for XM radio. I have to figure out some way to remedy this. Rene, who is in the upcoming Renaissance season, lives next door to me, so getting internet from his network will be no problem (temporarily down at the moment). It should be interesting to live in the complex, my third living space while in the company. The Market St. house was nice for its convenience, but everyone tends to be a bit isolated there. The complex is more social, but I discovered last night that the noise level is increased because of that. My natural sleep cycle may be more than a bit affected. And the heat in the room is pretty noisy. The unit is like one of those units in a motel, and it cycles the heat on and off. When the motor kicks on it makes a grinding noise. So either I have to get used to it, sleep with the heat off, or keep the heat on and the window open to regulate the temperature. but by April the weather may have moderated enough down here that I won't have to worry about heat.

Well, my time is running out, so up this goes to the blog and then perhaps more later. Or another day. New pictures are up on Flickr (click the badge on the right sidebar) and I will try to organize them on the road. It will take some time, as there are many pictures unlabeled and I have a lot up there. Might take up the entire tour. I'm working on movies as well, and if you haven't seen the Christmas ones, check those out. I'm experimenting with Google Video and YouTube for video upload as well. Do searches on those sites if you want to look. Later. -TWL.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Interlude - 1/8/06

Winter CemeteryDunkirk NY - Vacation is a little more than halfway over, and so far it's been relaxing, pleasant and thoughtful. I spent the first three days sort of vegging out, through New Year's Day. I sort of watched the various college bowl games, but not with any real attention (except for the Rose Bowl, which was a great football game). Then over the course of last week I slowly got a few things accomplished that needed to get done. I also attended a few social affairs, both here and in Buffalo, as well as getting to the opening night performance of the Irish Classical Theatre's production of Good. And tonight - well, a small addition to the blog.

I find myself, however, in something of a quandary as to what to write. During the time we're on tour, there are so many things to write about because we go to a number of places and see a number of sites, That makes writing easy, because each day brings some new subject matter and experience to write about. But being home produces nothing but introspective ramblings, and I never really intended to have this blog become about that. But perhaps it's sort of proper to have some sort of mid-year assessment and reflection about this particular effort I have undertaken, and so I'll try to organize some thoughts in that direction. So, in no particular order, here are some personal mid-contract reflections:

  • I love being on the road. Everyone has asked me that question since I've been home, and I've always responded that way. I do like traveling, and I do like facing the challenge each venue brings. I like seeing new places, and I really don't mind too much living in motel rooms. Motel rooms are, in fact, quite efficient and comfortable. With wireless access and a little TV, they turn out to be not so bad places to be in. About the only thing I dislike is not being able to travel independently when the opportunity arrives. And the food - I do get tired of mass prepared food.
  • I like the people in the troupe. By now I know them pretty well, and for the life of me I can't really find anything to complain about. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, of course, and you learn to understand each person's particular quirks and eccentricities. But I have to honestly say that they're all pretty good people. That's made me feel somewhat better about the state of young actors in this country. There's a little hope there.
  • I do wonder about the viability of touring, however. I've taken in each type of venue and each type of audience, and I begin to wonder at times what sort of lasting effect we have on the people for whom we perform. This is quite a complicated issue, and I don't really at the moment want to go much deeper into this, but suffice to say that our audiences are overwhelmingly white, middle- to upper-class, educated, or the children of the same. And in non-college venues (of which we had few), they are old; 50 or above. I see few people in the age range of my colleagues attending our performances. The issue goes beyond simply touring of course; it strikes at the very heart of theatre as a viable American art form. The reason I've been thinking about this question this week stirs partly from my attending the performance in Buffalo as well as going out to see the Capital Steps perform in Erie PA, and partly from some frustration in choosing a play to direct once I return to Fredonia. Of course, I've been thinking for a long time about the notion that Shakespeare festivals are really nothing but the Disneyworlds of rich educated white people, and being on tour is doing nothing but confirming that in many ways. To probe the matter even further, one can put forth the notion that in the seemingly endless bog of this nation's culture wars, all Euro-centric cultural values - and with them the truths they might hold - are becoming nothing more than another commodity for sale to a niche market. Shakespeare is merely a niche within a niche. But you'll have to wait for the book for any further explanation of this notion.
  • It is easier to maintain freshness of performance when you have three shows in rep to perform than having to do one show over and over every day.
  • Sooner or later, even the thing you adore doing more than anything else becomes reduced to a job. Anyone who says different is probably lying just a little. Now, I have one of the greatest jobs in this country - college teaching - and I have been most fortunate to be able to combine something I like very much doing with a job. But no matter what, you will have those days when going to work is no more than getting the job done. Obviously, the trick is to find a way to continually make the job seem new. That's challenging under any circumstances.
  • The weather in the southern half of the nation is better than in the northern half. There is more sunlight. Western New York recently set a record of 13 consecutive days with 0% available sunlight. I have been here experiencing more than half of those days. It is noticeably more dreary up here.
Since I seem to be staring into space at more than regular intervals at this point, I will take that as a sign that I can't think of anything more to write. It's going to be a mess getting back to Staunton - my son Eric has an audition for the University of Cincinnati's Conservatory Training Program on January 14th at 5:30 PM, so I have to figure out this transportation thing so as to return to Staunton the next day by noon. Always complications. In the meantime, happy new year to one and all. Don't let the winter get you down. -TWL