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.