AFTLS hits Music City…
“Come, sing; and you that will not, hold your tongues” – Jaques, As You Like It
Ah, Nashville how we have loved thee! A brilliant week was had by all, as we dashed around, eager to sample the best that city could offer…and what a list! Monday was my birthday so we hit the Honkytonks (very subtly dressed) to give our dancing shoes free-reign. Tuesday we had a more sedate evening watching the brilliant Music City Doughboys at the Station Inn. I spent Friday wandering the streets of Downtown and visiting the museum of Country Music.
Since the age of about 4, I have been listening to country music, care of journeys in my day’s car. When I got married last year, Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’ was on our wedding play-list, mostly because it was one of the first songs I remember knowing all the words to. Kenny joined the Country Music Hall of Fame (in Nashville) last year and I was tickled pink to take a picture of his bronze plaque to email my dad back home.
In between all this, we had our classes and performances on the lovely Vanderbilt Campus. The students of Vanderbilt are a talented and engaging bunch. I spent time with Actors, Stage Managers and English students and all were readily able to turn their hand to anything I asked of them.
If a theme emerged for me this week, it was the power of story to create unity. I worked with five students as part of their devising class on Tuesday and we explored varying approaches to story-telling and character, working as a collective group. I spent Thursday looking at status in Shaw’s Pygmalion, a story which, by the end of the session, seemed to me to depict class as artifice, a game that belies the fact that under the social mask lies a collective humanity.
It felt fitting then, that this week’s performance of As You Like it should be in thrust, placing us in the middle of our audience, enabling us to see faces and talk to them as if they were part of the stage itself. Jen even explored sitting with them while Celia recounted her tale of meeting Orlando. And in fact Nashville as a city is a living testimony to the power of music and story to bring people together and give them a good time…
“You’ve got to capture an audience. You don’t go out there and just sing, or just play. If you can’t capture an audience, you might as well not be out there.” – Roy Cuff
Next week we are reunited with our home-state Indiana, as we play at Valpo University. We’re looking forward to meeting the next set of students and faculty and also, hopefully, catching up with a few familiar faces from earlier tour weeks.