Saturday, October 16, 2010

Most Wonderful!

It has been beautiful here for the last couple weeks – just beautiful! I went back to Indy last weekend for my dear friend’s wedding and was very dismayed at the cold and rainy weather covering the Midwest. I was fully expecting to come back to Bozeman and find two feet of snow, but was pleasantly surprised to find it sunny and in the 70s! This is sooo different from last year, when we encountered winter roughly two weeks into being here. It has been rainy and gray today, but is slowly starting to clear up and warm up. I have been a good girl today – I went to yoga, went shopping for the road (apples, coffee, floss etc), sent postcards, worked on some new monologues and am now finally getting around to a new blog entry. Tonight, we are all going out to dinner and then going to see The Perfect Ganesh at the MSU theatre on campus – it is directed by Will Dickerson, who directs along with Joel for the summer tour.

We got back into town yesterday around 5pm and made a wonderful concoction of Lynchburg Lemonade (whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup) while watching a rousing Seattle Sounders game – Nick, one of my tour buds, is a big fan and is getting me back into watching soccer games. We had today off and then tomorrow we are heading out around 11 am to drive back to Cody, WY. We are going through Yellowstone tomorrow and are making a day of it so that we will have plenty of time to take in the beauty and majesty and perhaps hike a bit. But enough about what I am going to do, let me get to what I have already done!

We were rehearsing for about three weeks, spending two days of that working on developing the workshops that we will take to the students. All of this went well – I definitely had some challenges, but I think I overcame most of them and am continuing to work through those that I haven’t overcome. My process for developing Olivia was very strange to me – I felt like I got in touch with her girlish, flighty side first and it wasn’t until the end of the process that I finally found the down to earth and reason-driven qualities she possesses, with the help of Joel. She is an interesting character in that she only has one scene in which to establish who she is BEFORE she falls head over heels in love, which makes her act very differently throughout the rest of the play. The text provides a lot of help establishing this – the whole first act or so is spent talking up Olivia’s grief and mourning for her father and brother, her beauty and her command over her house and her emotions. Thus Olivia needs to deliver all of this when she first appears on stage. First of all, I think I am pretty, but I have a terrible fear that I won’t live up to all the hype about this woman whose beauty is known throughout the land. Second of all, I was finding in rehearsal, that I wasn’t portraying Olivia as someone who has command over her emotions or her servants. Finally Joel gave me an image to work from: the benevolent queen. And to further create this picture for me, he told me to think of none other than William Brown, who directed Romeo and Juliet last year. It was a perfectly crafted piece of direction. Bill is a benevolent queen: kind, indulgent, makes you feel special, without ever giving up an ounce of authority or control. Bill makes you want to impress, entertain and be loyal. So, with that thought, I finally felt like I found the calm, centered Olivia I was looking for. Yay.

The dress rehearsal was a great success and Joel and Kathy were so very kind and took us out to eat afterwards. The next morning was an early one – we played to Anderson Middle School (also our first school last year) and it was fun and very enlightening. I quickly realized that I needed to pay more attention to my diction – I should never NOT pay attention to my diction, I have a lazy mouth – and I taught the Just Speak English workshop on my own as we were spread a little thin. Teaching solo was scary, but it was a great way of getting me over my teaching hesitations real fast – everything since then has seemed like cake. We ate lunch with the kids and I had a great time talking to some that I remembered from last year – Marley and Eliza, in particular. Some of the younger girls remembered me from Romeo and Juliet last year – but they thought I played Juliet, which I am guessing is because of the fabulous wig I am wearing in this show…. They were all very concerned that my hair was actually short and unruly rather than long, flowing curls down to my hips. They informed me, as a group of seven or so, that I should really grow my hair out – it looks so much better in the show than in real life. While trying to stifle my giggles at their boldness, I pointed out that many of them had short hair and it was gorgeous, so why didn’t they like mine? They then informed me that theirs was styled and smooth which made it fine, whereas mine looked like I had rolled out of bed. I reminded them that I had just done a play with a wig on my head. They looked at me with knowing glances and then skipped away. Hilarious. I did get some silly bands, though. Apparently they are all the rage among middle schoolers.

On that Friday night, we had a birthday party for Shannon (our Viola) that involved lasagna with 8 lbs of cheese in it, Elle’s Belle’s sinfully delicious carrot cake, and quite a bit of libations. On Saturday, Shannon, Nick and I went horseback riding at Jake’s Horses and it was SOOO MUCH FUN!!!! I got to ride Princess Isadora, the mule. Her name was really Izzy, but she definitely thought she was a princess, so I indulged her. It was pretty funny, we all got to the stable and there were three horses tethered. One of them (which happened to be Izzy) was kicking at the other horses and very antsy, to which Shannon said, “God, I hope I don’t get that one.” Nick and I were speculating about who would get which horse – they had asked for our weights, so I hypothesized that Shannon would get the little cognac-colored horse, Nick would get the larger yellow horse and I would be left with the kicking black horse which seemed to have enormous ears. This is, of course, exactly how it played out. I was beckoned over to the stair mount and told that I would be riding a mule rather than a horse. I heard Nick and Shannon kind of snicker and someone made a hilarious comment about how “perfect” that was. I assured Izzy that I was stubborn too, so we would make a great pair. As soon as I was in the saddle, she started walking around – she was ready to go. All the other horses were pretty patiently waiting for the go ahead, but not Princess Isadora, oh no, she was walking circles around everyone despite my pulling on the reins to get her to be still.

Anyway, it was such a blast. Shannon was on a horse named Confused that would seem to get caught up in the beauty of the scenery, fall behind everyone, and then subject Shannon to galloping to catch up with the group. Enough said. Nick was on a beautiful older horse named Buck who had a shaggy coat due to a thyroid disorder – thus he was constantly itch and would walk over large bushes and small trees alike to scratch his butt. It was pretty funny watching Nick’s face the first time it happened. Okay, it was funny every single time. We went out on a 2.5 hour ride and it was just breathtaking to see the mountains on horseback. Just amazing. I really want to go again, maybe when it is snowing. I did learn that horses are very frightened of bikes – apparently they don’t know what to do with them. They (the bikes) are big enough to be threatening, so when we came upon bikers going the opposite way on the trail, the bikers would kindly pull over to let us pass. Some of them would put their bikes down on the ground, which I thought was odd - until one didn’t and Izzy took off, tearing up the hill completely away from the trail. I believe I yelled “Whoa” and “Oh no” but Shannon assures me that I didn’t scream. Our trail leader told me to stay calm, bring Izzy to a stop, and then guide her back down to the trail. He gave me permission to let her go off the trail so that she didn’t have to walk near the bikes any more. And that is exactly what I did from then on – and we came upon a lot of bikers!

This brings us up to this past week, which was our first week actually on the road. We played Powell, WY, Cody, WY, Colstrip, Manhattan and Absarokee. It was great – all the schools were wonderful and the kids awesome. I had a particularly great time in Cody - the kids were very interactive during the show and in the workshops and I definitely left feeling like they had learned something, which always makes me really, really happy. We’ve been so lucky to come across some really wonderful people this last week, several Montana and Wyoming residents have approached one or all of us in parking lots and asked if we were playing that night (they wanted to know when and where) or they have just wanted to say thank you for the work that we do – they are mostly talking about the summer tour, which is open to the whole public – and it is just so nice, so validating. It warms me to the very cockles of my soul. For instance, I met a really cool guy named Pete in Absarokee. Two of his kids were at the school were performed for the next day and he and I just spent the better part of an hour talking at the 5-spot Bar while the Jets/Vikings game was on. He had been to Indy a couple times and has a lot of family there, but said he could never understand why they left Montana. I told him I didn’t really have a good answer. Anyway, he was really just a nice guy, very friendly and talkative and he thanked me and all of us for doing what we do where we do it. He told me that it makes a world of difference to the students and the adults. And that is one of the many things that makes this tour so magical and so absolutely worth the early early hours and the long drives and the many hotels. Love to you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If Music Be the Food of Love, Let's Go to Montana and Do Twelfth Night!

I am so excited to be back for a second fall tour and I can tell already that this is going to be a wonderful three months. Mike, Shannon and I left Chicago around noon on Friday in a very packed car - Grandma Gonring had sent Mike off with a duffel bag full of snacks - Swedish Fish, M&Ms, Ritz crackers, Doritos, Pretzels, Oreos, Cheese Wiz (?), beef jerky, etc. It was a pretty great trip, considering that we decided to drive straight thru, essentially. We drove through Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota for most of the afternoon and we stopped at Blue Earth to take pictures of ourselves with the Jolly Green Giant. Then we proceeded on to Sioux Falls, SD and stopped for dinner in a small town nearby (because we missed the exit for Sioux Falls and they are few and far between). We stopped for gas and found this Montana Steakhouse restaurant next door. It looked cute and unassuming, so we decided we would stop for a bite. We went in and sat down and the waitresses were SO nice and excited that we were there (they were pretty much empty inside). We looked at the Dinner Special that was displayed, a Prime Rib dinner for $10.00. Hmmmm, not bad, but we thought we probably didn't need Prime Rib our first night out. The waitress brought over menus for all of us and said, " Well, take your pick, Prime Rib or Prime Rib." We all kind of tittered at her funny joke and then looked at the menu. It said :
Prime Rib Special Dinner 10
Prime Rib Dinner 14
Prime Rib Deluxe Dinner 20
Prime Rib with Salmon Dinner 23
Prime Rib

We ate at a Pizza Ranch, which seems to be very similiar to a Pizza Hut except for the decoration, which is decidedly "ranch-like." And that makes more sense than Pizza Hut, because let's be honest, when one hears the word "hut" one doesn't think of the decor that Pizza Hut has, right? Anyway, Pizza Ranch was tasty and they were very nice. We were the ONLY ones in the restaurant at 10 pm on a Friday night and we might have been the only ones in town.

I drove us from Sioux Falls to Rapid City utilizing my first 5 Hour Energy ever and chocolate covered espresso beans. Mike entertained me by playing cops and robbers in the passenger seat and then the sirens came on behind us and it became all too real. So I pulled over on the shoulder of the highway, at 2am, in South Dakota and waited for State Trooper to tell me how much I was going over the speed limit. He caught me going 83 in a 75 and he decided to write me a warning. He then asked me to step out of my vehicle and into his. Clearly, I was now going to be murdered. Now, this moment was a clear indicator to me that I have read waaay to many Stephen King novels. Throwing one long glance back at Mike and Shannon, I took comfort in the fact that at least they could tell the public what happened to me, where I had last been seen on US 90. To my great surprise, Ocifer Friendly told me all about the deer accidents they had been having and that he was writing me this ticket because he didn’t want to scrape us off the road later. We also discussed the likelihood of finding room and board in Rapid City (I refer to it as Rabid City, obviously) and the fruit crop in Canada this time of year - all while I watched Shannon try to take pictures of us with her iPhone so that she could tell the police what the guy looked like when they found my body.

It all ended well and I drove us the rest of the way to Rabid City, going the speed limit, until we stopped at a Motel 6 to sleep for 4 hours. The next morning, we finally made it to Bozeman after many beef jerky sticks and hot mustard pretzels and it was really good to be, for all intents and purposes, home. It is just as beautiful and majestic as it was last year, I am happy to note.

I settle in and nested a lot more this year than last. I brought some pictures and all of my music and my room is a very pleasant place to beJ We went to the Jahnke’s for a Kick-Off dinner and it was amazing – delicious food, wicked strong martinis, and lots of cats! And the Colts won their first game of the year…

Rehearsals are really fun, but really challenging as well. Joel, the artistic director of MSIP and our director, is a big believer in the Folio Method – which is essentially a Method for actors to use when performing Shakespeare. I have only had minimal exposure to Folio (thank you Susan Felder) in school and so I feel rusty, to say the least, when working with it.

The best metaphor I can think of is that I am building a house with 7 other people. The challenge is that I don’t know how to use the hammer, the band saw, the power drill, etc – I have to become familiar with them before they will be useful to me in the building of the house. But the other 7 people I am building the house with seem to know how to use these tools, having used them many times before. Make sense?

I will get the house built, I just feel like I have to learn some things before I get it done. So it is pretty cool. I need to memorize my lines more and spend more time with the script than I have. It is really hard to not just go play all the time because I know all the fun things there are to do! But all in due time. We are planning to go to Norris Hot Springs on Saturday night after rehearsal and we may go horse back riding on Sunday, fingers crossed.

That’s all for now – it has taken me forever to get this first entry up, but there will be more to come, I promise. Smooches to you all!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'll Be Home for Christmas snows a lot in Bozeman. In fact, it is snowing right now, so much that I can't see beyond two blocks away. Everything is just white. No mountains, no sky, nothing. We returned to Bozeman yesterday from being out on the road and there was still residual snow from the two feet we got weeks ago. It is really beautiful and I am trying to hold on to it because I know there is a good chance that we won't get snow in Indy on Christmas. Anyway, it is kind of cold - Bozeman had a high of 24 yesterday, but that isn't bad compared to where we were this week (Northern MT) where we had some 14 degree days. I guess it is just prepping me to go back to Chicago...

Speaking of which, I am kind of excited about. January will be the killer month, when cold hard reality sets in and I realize I have no job and no show. But until then, I am going to revel in the holidays and I am super excited to see everyone I haven't seen in three months and to go home for a couple weeks. I wish I could go back East to see everyone for a while and then come back out here and tour in January! But alas...

We had an extraordinary week - we were pampered a lot by Maxine and Wayne, who are the lovely parents of Jodee, who works for MSIP. They often have the cast over for dinner every tour, but we got extra lucky because they invited us over two nights in a row! Their house is beautiful - it is right outside St. Ignatius, MT - and they had they whole place decked out for Christmas. The first night, they served us a delicious pot roast with squash and even rhubarb pie! The second night, they made us an amazing chili with cornbread ( I think I ate 3 pieces) and I just ate cornbread with chokecherry preserves on top for dessert. I told them how much we all appreciated being in a home with decorations and music as opposed to a hotel room. Maxine seemed kind of shocked - she thought we would want some sort of entertainment when we came over, but we were all very content to sit in the living room and just listen to music and stare out the window or at the tree. I think it reminded everyone of being at their house for Christmas - and some of my cast mates haven't been home for 6 months because of the summer tour.

Looking at my time out here as a whole, I only have two regrets: one, I didn't ride a horse like I wanted to and two, I forgot my Elvis Christmas CD in Chicago.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Feel the Heat

Ok, first I have to apologize for how long it has been since I last has been a really long time. In my defense, my computer is down for the count, so I have been relying on the generosity of strangers (no, my castmates) for online access. And I have also just been really lazy.

It is crazy that I have only two weeks left here. I have spent the past couple weeks mourning the approaching end of tour; saying goodbye to the mountains, the Food Co-op, the animals, the quiet, the play, etc. And consequently, I think when it is time to leave, I will be ready. I also really miss everyone in Chicago, not the city so much as the people, and I will be really eager to see everyone and then head to Indy for Christmas.

Since it has been so long since I wrote, and fortunately amazing things happen almost every day out here, I will try to hit some of the highlights of the last month or so.

The first thing that comes to mind is the Glassblowing Art Program in Box Elder, MT. Box Elder is on a reservation and it has the BEST and most comprehensive Arts program I have ever seen anywhere. They have an Industrial Arts wing which teaches vinyl design, wood cutting, leather tooling, furniture building, computer repair, car repair, metal cutting, and welding. They also have a Creative Art wing which houses ( I think this is correct...) one of only three Glass Blowing programs in the country. They also have pottery, batik-making, wood-etching, drawing, painting, air-brushing, ceramics, I could go on and on...

But back to the Glassblowing - they have a studio with three stoves that are running the majority of the year and the head of the program, Tom , says "It's the hottest room in the whole state!" And it is true. These kids are slinging hot glass like it's not really really hot glass. When I first walked in, all I could think of was the competence my high school peers exhibited in the scene shop with a staple gun, and I was very much humbled and afeared. Basically, in a school where the attendance rate is not high, Tom's program keeps kids coming back day after day. As he put it, once you blow some glass and put it in the kiln to sit and cool, you gotta come back to retrieve your glass or it gets put in the scrap bin. It is this important draw that has brought in the funding to build the studio - he told us that most of the furniture (benches and tables) and the tools were handmade by he and the students. Everyone from the cast was so fascinated by the glass blowing that eventually Tom decided we should try and Laura was first up. Now, what was most amazing about this whole experience was the authority and competence that the students exhibited - Tom just sat back and let the students instruct us on what to do. And they were amazing! Tom basically had to kick us out of the school - we stayed the entire day - but he invited us back to retrieve our creations the following day. I didn't blow any glass, but I did end up with a creation that vaguely resembles a glass, so I totally lucked out!

Lets see....Oh! Another fun story: I forget where we were driving to, but we left on Sunday night and spent the hour or so trip talking about Paranormal Activity ( a horror film that came out about a month ago). My understanding is that it's creepiness lies in the idea of ghosts making things move or turn on and off when no one is there. Some of the guys had gone to see it and we were talking about how terrifying it was and our love (or hate) of horror movies in general. It was all good fun until we got to our motel. I had a single that night, so after retrieving my bag from the van, I went to my door and put my key in. My door wouldn't open. I kept turning my key, back and forth, and I knew that the lock was moving because I could hear some hissing sound from inside the room when the lock retracted. I finally shouldered the door and it opened to a normal, dark hotel room. Except for the TV that was on with just static on the screen. I yelled for Steve, who was rooming next to me, and he came and was even more unnerved than I, considering he was one of the people who watched the creepy movie the night before. Therefore we decided we must immediately go round up everyone and make them scared too. So we did and they were. Most of the boys patted me on the back and told me, "Good luck with that." Finally Laura came and I closed the door so that she could walk in and experience it fully. Then I realized I had locked my keys in the room. So Steve was a saint and walked with me to the check-in desk ( which was NOT close to our rooms) and they gave me a new key. It was upon my second entrance into the room that I finally turned the TV off. When I had then turned on every single light in the entire room, I turned the TV back on and there was no static - just a regular old channel. That really creeped me out. Then I noticed the child-sized coffin-like bench that was in my bathroom. It had no apparent purpose. Just a creepy white wooden box attached to the wall. Then I made Chris and Laura and Steve come hang out with me all evening until it was time to go to bed. It was while they were there that we discovered the fine white animal hair that was all over every inch of my bed spread. So we pulled back the bedspread and discovered the highlight of the evening - a felted blanket with ducks on it with pink floral pillows, all covered with a hairy bedspread depicting hunting dogs. I would like to say I slept well, but I didn't - there were goblins having a picnic in the radiator all night - and it was ONLY loud when the lights were off.

Tomorrow we go to Missoula - I will try to be more frequent with my entries in the next two weeks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Go Bainville Bulldogs!!!

Hmmm....let me think of the things I thought I would do in Montana....Nope, attending a Pep Rally was not one of them. But guess where I was last night??? The Montana Shakespeare in the Schools Company attended a Pep Rally for the Bainville Bulldogs Ladies Volleyball Team and Gentleman's Football Team. We performed at Bainville H.S. on Tuesday morning and they were an amazing audience! They laughed, they cried, they were totally with us. The students were incredibly well-spoken and engaged in the workshops and they invited us to eat breakfast and lunch with them.

As we were packing up, we had an invitation extended to us from Denise, a very involved community member who attended the performance, who invited us to spend the afternoon (and night) at her family's cabin. We were heading to Wolf Point for our Thursday performance and decided that we would have a much better time at the cabin than in the hotel. So we followed Denise to a remote cabin on her land and walked into a brand new, snack-stocked cabin right on the river! She and her husband built the cabin for guests - they both say they have been blessed with more than they need so they built this cabin to serve others. She told us to nap, explore, eat and make ourselves at home - her generosity and kindness was amazing. We spent 4-5 hours relaxing and enjoying the scenery before we went back to BHS to attend the pep rally and dinner to which we had been invited!

I had a wonderful conversation with one of the parents, Marilyn. She has four kids at the school and she is a bus driver and substitute teacher! She told me that we made quite the impression on all of her kids and she wished she had seen the show. She told me that the school cut the Music program at the beginning of the year and it was really hard on the kids. When she approached the school board about the cut, they told her that they viewed Music Lessons as something for which a Private Instructor could be hired. Hmmmm....but sports are apparently NOT something that one could do outside of school... She and I discussed the strong, and wonderful emphasis on sports in the community (in many rural communities) that unfortunately often comes at the expense of the arts in the schools. I told her about the feedback I had received from several teachers, all over our tour, letting me know that the kids that participate in our workshops are often the kids that are silent and not engaged in their everyday class. Marilyn and I discussed how sometimes the arts are the only thing that can grab a kid's interest, just like sometimes reading or math engage a student. They are truly no less important.

The community of Bainville is so close knit -the dinner was a pitch-in and the kids were in teh kitchen, serving the soup entree! The teachers wrote and performed a Wizard of Oz - style sketch dedicated to the Bainville teams. Then the parents participated in a game show where the kids tried to figure out the definition for little-known words. We all had an amazing time - Tyler even started a cheer by yelling out "Go Bulldogs!" after the Volleyball coach gave her speech. From there, we drove to Wolf Point that night for our performance the next day. Denise stopped us before we left and let us know that anytime we are in Bainville, we have a home at the cabin. I'll always have a home in Bainville, MT.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hobble Diamond Ranch

I just had, perhaps, the most amazing weekend of my life. First though, let me recap the week. We left on Monday, Oct 12th, and drove for four hours to Ten Sleep , WY and had various adventures around the state in Sheridan and Buffalo. I purchased a Western shirt with snap buttons ( just like my Pappa's) and two of the boys, Tyler and Chris, purchased cowboy hats which they proceeded to wear everywhere, including to bed. Needless to say, it was a good week.

Back to my life-changing weekend...on Thursday night we arrived for dinner to celebrate the first night of the Big Timber Arts Roundup. It is a weekend arts camp that brings rather affluent kids from Philly together with less-affluent kids from around Montana and they participate in painting, theatre, photography or writing all weekend long with professionals from each field. We, believe it or not, are the professionals for theatre and we get to perform our show and then work with the kids on Shakespearean scenes that they present at the end of the weekend. It was amazing. I don't think I can even describe to you what it was like. The food was exquisite - dessert at every hom made meal (it was very very dangerous and it had to end or I would have weighed 400lbs in a matter of weeks) and I don't think I was hungry once in the last 3 days - you eat when they tell you to.

I flipped my shit when I found out we were performing in a barn. A real barn. Not to be confused with a fake barn - it was a real functional barn. Montana Shakespeare in the Parks gave the camp their older summer tour set and they built it in the barn for us to use during the weekend. Friday night was our performance night and we spent a good part of the day getting to know the theatre students and then preparing for our performance. We ran thru the play and made adjustments to our blocking amidst mooing cows and barking dogs. I talked to Steve, the head honcho of the ranch hands, and he let me know that they were sorting calves this weekend, something that was usually already completed by Arts Roundup weekend. Hence the noise and commotion. I told him I loved all the bustle and he was just amused all day by our rehearsing. He was such a gentleman - he tipped his hat when he shook my hand and he told us to let him know if we needed anything. While the boys were running thru their fight scene - dodging the work dogs that thought the swords were part of an elaborate game of 'fetch' - Tonya and I snuck off with Jessie, the smartest 11 year old I have ever met, and visited the five draft horses whom we pet and fawned over for a while. Jessie's father and mother live and work on the ranch and he knows the ins and outs of the whole place.

I have to stop here and tell you that I fell hard in love with Hobble Diamond Ranch. I felt dizzy all day on Friday from how happy I was to be there. I started to tear up on several occasions because it was so unbelievable to be performing with this company - this wonderful group of people - in a barn with cows and horses and cats and dogs for these high-school students and the other artists and teachers. I was convinced for a full 24 hours that my calling in life is to work on a ranch...but I think my calling is to do Shakespeare on a ranch. How much closer to the original Globe can you get? The smell of hay and wood chips and the crisp cold open night sky air. We were all heady with the heat of lights and the smell of animal crap!

After the performance, I approached and hugged cowboy Steve and asked him if he liked the show - I assured him that he was allowed to be perfectly honest. He looked up at the ceiling in thought and said, "You know, I did like this one. I don't usually understand what the hell you all are saying, but this one I did understand. Most of it." He told me, "You guys did real good" and it made my year.

There is so much more to this weekend than I can possibly write. I made some great friends from Philly - Lisa, Katie, and Matt - they are just awesome people and wonderful teachers and very talented artists. And the students were amazing - they were willing to take risks and play and they were so smart! I got to work with Tonya on a scene with Brigit and JoJo - the Desdemona and Emilia scene from Othello. They did such a beautiful job and the most amazing thing they did was listen to one another - something that professional actors often can't do if their life depended on it.

This weekend made me so proud to do what I do. More proud than any other time in my life. I feel like I have found happiness - I found the answer. Doing Shakespeare in the middle of nature - our monologues were answered with moos and barks! It was perfect. I feel like I have grown up - I have completed a right of passage that didn't come for me in college. And I feel like this weekend really bonded us as a company - as we crossed the Hobble Diamond threshold for the final time on Sunday night, I felt a sadness and longing in the van - a quiet contemplation for all the wonderful things we shared over the weekend.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chocolate Milk and Sloppy Joes

It has been cold and snowy all week - on Thursday I announced to everyone that it felt like the week before Thanksgiving. I had a strong wave of homesickness and I was seriously craving pumpkin pie and apple cider. Now it just feels like January - it was 2 degrees here last night and it might just get up in the 40s on Monday. But it is beautiful. The snow here stays white for a long time because there aren't as many cars and not so much smog. We had a 3 hour drive back to Bozeman from Wyoming on Thursday and we decided to go through I have never been there before and I hardly saw the tip of the iceberg, I know, but it was stunning. And we lucked out - we saw a couple hundred bison - two separate herds - plus we stopped for a bison crossing the street and he stared at us (which was a little scary) and we took pictures of him. We also saw a bald eagle, a coyote, antelopes and a beautiful herd of elk. Elk are so magnificent - their coloring and their size is just unreal. I was holding out for a moose, but I guess I will have to wait for Maine next year.

Tour was super fun this week - very tiring and a lot of work, but very fun. I really loved Wyoming - a lot of people with very different life perspectives from me (many, many anti-Obama bumper stickers) but incredibly nice and gracious to us travelers. For the most part, everyone is so grateful to have us there because they have seen the summer shows or they know kids who have seen previous fall tours. Two women we met at the Elk Horn Grille were very dismayed that our show wasn't announced in the local paper like in past years and they were asking us if the Preschoolers would be able to see it. We said we didn't know who would be in our audience, but it was a rather intense show for preschoolers. The next morning we played at Meeteetsee High and lo and behold, all the kids K-12 were there to watch. It was really interesting playing to seniors and kindergartners - if the high school kids did something, than the younger kids would do it ten-fold. So there were a lot of kissing sounds, giggling, and meowing during the Tybalt scenes. One of the teachers at Meeteetsee told us that this was her favorite day of the year and she had coffee and spice bread for us when we showed up at 7. I don't think I have ever felt more appreciated as a storyteller than in these schools. I mean, there are almost always going to be some kids that don't care and are just happy to be out of class, but there are so many of them that are enthralled and excited because there is no local theatre for them to go see. When we ate lunch with the kids, some of them had the idea of we ended up spending most of the period signing our autographs on napkins with dry erase markers amid chocolate pudding and blue Jello. I met the cutest 2nd grader named Mark who wouldn't talk at all to start with and by the end of the period he couldn't stop. He really liked the play, especially the sword fighting. And he told me that he is allergic to milk. And the sun. We ended up having to escort our Juliet out of the lunch room for fear that the children would overtake her - I am amazed we haven't ended up with a 1st grader hiding out in the van.

On Sunday, we have a four hour drive ahead of us to Ten Sleep. We aren't coming back to Bozeman next weekend, so it will be two weeks on the road. We are going to a ranch and staying for 4 nights to do Literary Roundup, which I don't know a whole lot about, but when I do I will let you know. As I understand it, there are groups of kids that choose to study theatre, music, art, etc at this camp on a ranch. And the ones that choose theatre spend the weekend with us - we perform the show and we direct them in Shakespearean scenes that they all present to one another at the end of the weekend. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I am hoping I can ride a horse while I am there.

There is something really fun about living off of what you can carry in your suitcase - it just makes everything more simple. It is really nice to go into a different location every day and do the same thing with the same people. And it is never really the same, because every show is different and every school is different. On Friday we performed at Bozeman Public Library for some Home-Schooled youth and the ceiling wasn't high enough for our balcony railing to fit. So that was an adventure. And on tour, you know there is a place to sleep and there is stuff to eat - we live off of Continental breakfasts and school lunches - I have had sloppy joes and chocolate milk twice this week!!!

It was really great to be back at the dorm in Bozeman this weekend and we celebrated one of our own's birthday with a big ziti dinner and going out about the town. I was very pleased to have finished Eddie's Bastard - what a great book! - and am now onto Little, Big which I have been told I will love. It sounds like we may go back out to Norris Springs this evening. It will be much, much harder to get out of the water, but I think it will be fun to go when it is so cold outside.