|Weeks 9 & 10
||[Aug. 13th, 2007|11:11 pm]
|||||VA, TN, GA, SC, FL||]|
|||||Bob Marley on Maxey's iPod; The Decemberists on Anne's CD player||]|
We began our day by driving past the Abingdon cemetery, an event which provoked the following exclamation from the ever-quotable Rebecca: [delivered in an oooh-ahhh-talking-to-a-baby kind of voice] "Look at all the dead people!" Things only got weirder from there. When we arrived at our first destination of the day, an elementary school near Abingdon, we promptly locked the keys in the van, prompting a visit from AAA. Normally, we would have had a spare key, but Rebecca had left it in her car, which was parked at Gwen's house for some reason, and her car couldn't be opened, anyway, because its key was on the same key chain as the van key that had just been locked in the van. Whew. Anyway, by the time our show had begun, the van situation had been worked out, thanks to road-side (or elementary school parking lot) assistance. :) We thought, at this point, that the day's unusual and bothersome events were over and accounted for. However, as we were warming up to do "Jamestowne," a teacher at the school walked over to Meg and began telling her that she had heard so much about her and loved her fish (which-- whom?-- she had never actually met). As it turns out, this teacher was the mother of an Abingdon boy with whom Meg had apparently had ONE date over the Christmas break (and whose fish-feeding services she had taken advantage of while she was in Georgia for a couple of days) and by whom she had been constantly phone-messaged, e-mailed, and otherwise stalked ever since. The situation became even more puzzling when, during audience warm-ups, some of the children Meg was speaking with began referring to her as "Mrs. so-and-so's son's girlfriend." It was an odd situation indeed. Needless to say, Meg was particularly glad when we left Meadowview elementary. The rest of us, however, mostly enjoyed ourselves during our morning back-to-back "Jamestownes": at Meadowview, I got to talk to, among others, 1) a little girl who reminded me that she'd been at "Christmas Tree" (our winter players show at the theatre) wearing a fancy Santa Claus dress (and I vaguely remembered it and her); 2) a cute, smart, chubby red-haired girl who had also seen X-mas Tree; and 3) another girl who said she'd auditioned for "Oliver" (for this coming summer at the Barter) but hadn't gotten a part. The kids were great, and Rebecca entertained them quite well by doing some pre-show cartwheels. Our talkback was a bit lacking-- most of the "questions" were things like: "I liked your show" and "my sister's name is Megan, too" and "I have a dog, a hermit crab, and a tarantula"-- but we had a good (if weird) time at our Monday morning gig.
Our afternoon show ("Jamestowne" again--third one of the day) went well, too, and this one was especially fun because Katy and a bunch of Barter publicity people were there to see us and cheer us on (yay for shows near Abingdon)! We also had a lot of fun before the show: we were changing clothes behind the stage curtain of the gymnatorium while a gym class with a soundtrack of really bad early '90s pop/boy band music was going on (it seems to be a thing among gym teachers to play really, really awful music during their classes--we've run into this at about a dozen schools), and Rebecca, Meg and Ben, all in their underwear, began to spontaneously create and enact an MTV-esque music video right there behind the stage curtain. It was a hoot, inflatable saxophones and all. (These rather strange props were, for some reason, among the other music class things behind the curtain). It was a really fun afternoon, and the show went very well. The only slightly creepy event of the second half of the day was that a little boy (who, incidentally, looked like he could be a member of the Adams Family) informed me, during audience warm-ups, that he wanted to be a tomato when he grew up. Hmm.
We began the day by performing "Jamestowne," again near Abingdon. Rhea Valley Elementary was a nice school, and they gave us a decent free lunch afterwards, so we really couldn't complain. The afternoon, though, was really the highlight of the day. We arrived rather early and therefore had a good deal of time before our JT performance. We warmed up and sound-checked and got into costume, and then we got to watch the most adorable pre-school-aged children on the planet as, led by their teacher, they got rid of some excess energy by running around the gym for about twenty minutes, playing "red light, green light" and alternately running and tiptoeing to the tune of a ridiculous (but cute) teacher-tool song with a chorus that went: "tiptoe, tiptoe... don't talk, just walk... now run!" We loved just watching the kids be kids and just BE. I think it sort of dawned on all of us that, as "grown-ups," we try too hard to always be doing something and being something that we think we should be doing or being. We so seldom allow ourselves to really be in the moment, even though we're in a career where this is the ultimate goal. (Maybe it's harder off-stage than on). Anyway, it was just neat to observe kids in their neat, unselfconscious childhood habitat. :) Inspired by the little ones and still left with some time before the show, we had a little in-the-moment fun ourselves: Rebecca, Maxey and I came across some rubber chickens in the gymnasium (strange, but true) and proceeded to make an improvisational cell phone video involving the theme to the film, "2001"; chicken attacks; and painful-sounding squeals (these were the squealiest rubber chickens you ever did hear). Words really don't do our little artistic masterpiece justice. I'm sure that it will turn up on the internet at some point, though, and I dare you to watch it. Finally, it was time for the show, and I had a nice conversation with two fourth grade girls who informed me that they suffered from a three-month-long stomach virus and ten bouts of strep throat per year, respectively. As the conversation went on, the physical space between me and these very friendly kids became more and more. . . spacious. The show went pretty well, and we went home and re-watched our rubber chicken video. :)
For some reason, I didn't take very many notes for this day, though, actually, this may be because I confused some Monday details with some Wednesday details. I think that the MTV dancing with moroccas and inflatable saxophones may have happened on Wednesday rather than Monday. All the schools sort of look alike, and the days of tour begin to blend together after a while. In any case, I guess Wednesday (or Monday?) wasn't too memorable. I do remember that Wednesday's show (at a school in Bristol) was kind of a tough one—“Jamestowne” is an easy sell to some audiences, and anything but to others. We always try our darndest, though, and if they laugh at the "arrow arrow gun guns" and the Algonquin rituals, maybe it just means that they're really involved in the action of the play. I think I'll keep trying really hard and, in the meantime, choose to believe that.
On Thursday, we woke up really ridiculously early and traveled to the mountains of North Carolina for three "American Tall Tales" performances. The first two were at the very, very nice auditorium of an elementary/middle school in Blowing Rock, NC. The shows went really well (except that a prop that Ezra and I use-- sunglasses-- unfortunately broke during the show: aaaah, live theater), and, after a quick lunch, we headed to Boone, NC for our third show. We anticipated that this would be a tough show, since it was in a HUGE, echo-ey gymnasium and since the performance was attended by the entire, HUGE school, but it actually ended up being really fun, and we were happy that our tour coordinator, Tere Land, showed up to support us! I really enjoyed visiting Blowing Rock and Boone-- both really nice places-- and I'd love to go back and visit and check out all the neat little shops sometime. :)
On Friday, we traveled to Mountain City, TN for another three-show-day of "American Tall Tales." All three shows were at the same venue, a really nice, former-high-school-converted theater called Heritage Hall. So, between shows, we sat in the green room and admired an interesting topographical-map-like mural on the wall of a lake and some animals that had been created by a local prisoner. It was kind of a neat place in general-- very nice dressing rooms, a homey-feeling stage, etc. And they bought us pizza for lunch! The first two performances, in particular, went really well (the audience for the third was much smaller and less responsive-- the after-school, tired parents & kids crowd), and John Hardy came to our second performance, which was kind of cool. After the shows were over, we drove back to Abingdon in the suddenly beautiful, warm weather, and smiled at all the cows and horses along the way. We've really seen a lot of farm animals on tour, and they're really sweet and peaceful-looking, and I think I'm going to have an extremely hard time eating meat after this. I'm not kidding. Maybe the Barter Players tour will turn me into a vegetarian. (Okay, that was sort of a random, weird side-note, but it's true: I've seen more cows and horses and sheep and goats and things on this tour than I've ever seen in my life, and I've sort of fallen in love with them-- I mean, not in a bestiality sense; you know what I mean-- they're neat animals). :) Before I finish this day's entry, here's another random fact for you: the guy at Heritage Hall who introduced all three of our shows made a huge point of calling himself "grampa" and asking all the kids to call him that, too. It was sweet and creepy all at the same time.
Saturday, we took some VERY windy roads out to Independence, Virginia, where we did an afternoon performance of "Jamestowne" in a really neat building (the town's former courthouse). I talked to some 10 or 11-year-old boys before the show who told me all about their games of mud-football (and mud-wrestling?) at their summer church camp, and I also met a woman in the audience who was from Newport News. The show went pretty well, and we ate at a good, cheap, local restaurant afterwards. In the early evening, we headed down the road apiece :) to a really old-looking elementary school (we later found out that it was, in fact, built as a part of the WPA plan) and got ready for a second performance of "Jamestowne" that would cap off a Saturday fundraiser/auction at the school. When we arrived, we were told that we would perform on a creaky, rickety wooden-planked stage with a huge basketball net right in the center of it (which, if we put the drop in front of it, would leave us with about a foot of performance space). We decided to set up on the floor, instead, which was a good decision, as toes would likely have gotten caught in the wood boards, which might not have been a fun or happy thing. This particular show, though, turned out to be really challenging, anyway. Two minutes into the action of the play, a teacher hit the wrong light switch and turned off all the lights. Unfortunately, these were the gym buzzer kind of lights that take about 10 minutes to warm up, so we held the show for a bit and laughed backstage. When we started back up again, the kids were kind of riled up from the blackout, and there were some very little children sitting in the front row (on the floor) who began creeping onto the stage area during the performance and making lots of cute, yet distracting, noises and hand motions (at one point, they began banging the floor with their hands and imitating Ezra's Indian rituals; at another point, they said the "arrow arrow gun guns" with us). During the course of this show, I also had an onstage coughing fit (stupid cold), which I managed to work into the action of the play fairly well (I hope); and Maxey and Rebecca somehow managed to get their legs entangled and almost fall to the ground, tripping over each other. Needless to say, it was a challenging, but really, really crazy and fun and, above all, memorable show. :) After it was over, we were given lots of home-baked goodies from the auction and we drove back to Abingdon (taking a less windy route, this time), taking a minute to relish the spring night air before hopping in the van. It was a really neat day.
We began the drive to Jacksonville, Florida, at about 11 a.m. and had a great day on the road and a great day, in general. We stopped for lunch in downtown Asheville, NC. I had never visited Asheville before, and I was enchanted. It's kind of a neat, upscale hippie kind of place, with multiple specialty shops and great restaurants. Rebecca showed us around town, and we ended up eating at a good Cuban place (the wait staff were rather weird: the hostess/owner's wife, in particular, seemed like she might be on something. I really think that Tennessee Williams would be the best person to hire to write a description of her: she was, indeed, the epitome of a "no-neck monster." The food was delicious, though). After lunch, we made a stop at a shop with neat yarn and even neater yarn hats (I really, really wanted one, but the cheapest was $55, which I certainly couldn't afford on my Barter Players salary), and then we hit the road again for Jacksonville, stopping for a very weird dinner in Savannah, Georgia, with some friends of Meg's and Ezra's. They were nice enough (though the girl was kind of a walking sob story: she told us, humorlessly, about an incident where she'd been in a car accident and the impact had caused her nipple piercing to bleed bacteria into her breast, which then became inflamed and required emergency surgery), but we were harassed during dinner by an intoxicated restaurant patron who sort of hovered around our table asking us for pizza and then announced that he had "heard us talking about him." Rebecca's response was, "what? You heard us saying that you were weird and random," to which his reply was: "no, I heard you saying that my face looks like a vagina." I can assure you that none of us had made this statement, although, upon investigation, the "gentleman" wasn't that far off in his facial self-assessment. After our strange and interesting day, we arrived in Jacksonville (at a really nice Best Western that Maxey had booked for us), and Maxey and I had a really fun conversation in our hotel room (during which she told me a CRAZY story about a college friend of hers who discovered a CORAL SNAKE in her DESK). It was a neat travelin' day. :)
We got a bit lost on the way to our first Florida performance (JT), but we managed to find our way there in time, and we loaded into a school that smelled, oddly, like an airport and/or hospital. The show (in the cafetorium/multi-purpose room) went well, and, before the performance, I talked to a little boy who was a rising soccer star. It's so neat to meet all the millions of kids we meet on a daily basis. :)
Our second show of the day was at a performing arts middle school in downtown Jacksonville. The facilities were really nice and the faculty members were really pompous (the guy who introduced us is apparently a good buddy of "Will" Shakespeare). The performance was kind of tough-- I wish we did "Hamlet" more often, because it seems really hard to find flow with this show when we do it so infrequently. It's also difficult performing for middle school kids (even ones at a performing arts school), but I think we made a valiant effort and managed (mostly) to stay "under the water." Anyway, after the show was over, we had another chance to be in (if not under) the water: it was 80 degrees in Florida, and we went to the BEACH!!! (I didn't actually get in the water, because there were multiple jellyfish washed up on shore, and I didn't see that as a good omen; plus, the coast of Florida is notorious for its shark attacks, and we all know how paranoid I am about anything and everything, but I did enjoy walking on the beach). :) After the beach, we played arcade games, ate good food, and drank margaritas at this place called Dave & Buster's, which is kind of the grown-up version of Chuck-e-Cheese's. It was an incredibly fun day in Florida.
Still in Florida, we did a morning "Tall Tales" at a private school. Upon loading in, we were greeted by a friendly, if somewhat misguided duck who was paddling around in the school's swimming pool. :) We had a really GREAT, fun, relaxed performance, and I think this was our best "Tall Tales" ever. The Florida sun must have done something for us. :) After the show, we had a nice lunch at Panera Bread, topped off by an Acai Berry (lots of antioxidants, you know) smoothie at the local Smoothie King. In the afternoon, we performed "Jamestowne" at an Episcopal School, which was fun, although Meg was apparently a bit troubled by a pre-show conversation with a boy who was obsessed with killing carrots. Don't ask. I don't know. After the show, a teacher gave us a nice compliment: she said that she'd had to sit through many other theatrical productions that were no good, but she said that WE were really good and she was so glad that we'd come to her school. :)Yay! After the show, we went to the BEACH again, and I collected about a hundred shells. I also got a phone message from Hampstead Theatre (where I'd had a callback at UPTAs) indicating that the company was interested in me for their spring, 2008 tour, so it was a really good day in Florida, again!
We had our last Florida performance on Wednesday morning: "Jamestowne" at a middle school. It was fine, although we were all a bit troubled by the lengthy lecture by the principal that followed the show. After bragging about his love for history and how he was a history major in college, the rather imposing (think club-bouncer type) principal proceeded to reprimand the kids for anything and everything (dress code violations, not representing their school well, the works). I always hate things like that, because I know that they do no good whatsoever: the kids to whom the lectures apply don't care, and the kids to whom they don't apply get upset. Blah. After the show, we ate at a pizza place and then hit the road for the long haul back to Abingdon (we got back to Virginia at about 10 p.m.).
We drove to Blacksburg on Thursday morning for two "Jamestowne" performances at the same school. There was a bit of technical trouble before the first performance: the power was out in parts of the building, so we were worried that we might not have a show, but everything worked out okay. :) The first show was difficult, as there was a mentally disabled child in the audience who made loud noises throughout the show and distracted other audience members (and us), but we all did our best to keep communicating the story well, both to him and to the rest of the audience, and the show wasn't a total disaster (although we were all really tired from the long drive back from Florida and had a rather weepy "how was that show anyway" meeting post-show). The second show of the day was significantly better than the first, and, after it, the players and I all rode over to my grandmother's house in the van and visited with her a bit before heading back to Abingdon (I stayed in Blacksburg for the evening).
We had two shows in Roanoke, VA today. The first, "American Tall Tales," was at an elementary school (where the kids were all decked up for St. Patrick's Day), and the second, "Jamestowne," was at a middle school. Both performances were kind of weird. They both went well, I think, but they just seemed kind of different to all of us. Maybe that's good, though-- maybe that means that the shows are growing and changing in good ways during these last three weeks of tour. The JT performance was really difficult, though: we had the middle school laughter to contend with, and we had a really weird talk-back, too, where a teacher asked us whether "Barter employed black people," a question that kind of threw us. I guess it shouldn't have been too surprising, though: we were, after all, in southwest Virginia. Ugh. After the shows were over, we headed back to Abingdon for the night.
We have an "American Tall Tales" performance in Rogersville, Tennessee tonight (we're leaving at 4:40 p.m.). Afterwards, there is a St. Patrick's day party at Gwen's place in Abingdon. Tomorrow, we have the day off, and I'm traveling to Blacksburg to visit the the parents, the grandmother, the Danny and the other friends, and the dog (Emily) for my 25th (!) birthday, which is Monday (we have some more shows in Blacksburg on Monday). Afterwards, we'll be out on the road (with no nights spent in Abingdon) for the remainder of tour: a record of 12 out-of-house days. Wish us luck. (I'll update about tonight's performance at a later date, and the weeks 11 & 12 logs will be ready at the end of the next two weeks). Have a great couple of weeks, everyone!