The ABCs of A&M: A is for Aggies; B is for Boots (and a Bat); C is for Cowboys
This week team AFTLS continued to work Texas-side with a week’s residency at Texas A&M (in College Station, Texas)…go Aggies!
We arrived just a week before Spring Break and were a bit apprehensive that this might cause a dip in audience numbers, especially towards the end of the week. We needn’t have worried. A&M traditionally has us booked for larger classes (150 students or so) and audiences at both the workshop sessions and the performances were excellent…on Friday we even had a Mexican Free-Tailed Bat visit the auditorium and stage to get in on some Arden action.
Large classes meant that we paired up for a few sessions this week, which was fun. It was also great to see the rhythm of the verse and the power of imagery and character engaging so many students at once. Our aim is to get as many students speaking Shakespeare as we can, which in large classes means lots of group work. Students were challenged to get on their feet and work together, and we were all impressed by the readiness with which they rose to the occasion. A 6′ 5″ strapping Silvius in army uniform, orchestrating a chorus of “…and I for Ganymede”…”and I for Rosalind”…”and I for no woman” was a highlight for me and Jen.
Also topping Jen’s week was the purchase of some truly amazing Cowboy (Girl?) boots…see picture. Her love for these beauties is boundless. Dan has also purchased a rather stunning pair and together they made quite the dashing couple at Sunday’s visit to THE RODEEEOOOH!
As Monday’s flight to Nashville was an early one, we headed back to Houston on Sunday to spend the night closer to the airport. As luck would have it, the Livestock Show and Rodeo was in town, so I accompanied Dan, Jen, and their boots to Reliant Park on Sunday afternoon, to see some real Cowboys (and some Mutton Busting kids!) in action.
Before leaving College Station, we had been given some Cowboy low-down by A&M student Emily who waited on our table at Fish Daddy’s on Saturday night. Her boyfriend, Sheldon, is a Team Roper, so at least I’d heard of one event when I looked at the program on Sunday! It was a terrific spectacle (I especially loved the Barrel Racing). I can’t really think of an English cultural equivalent, and it was brilliant to throw ourselves in to something so totally different…(“I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it!” Celia Act 2 Sc 4). I now understand that “Mutton Busting” involves small children riding/clinging on to sheep, and ‘Calf Wrestling’ involves catching/tethering/and penning a calf.
While Dan and Jen looked every bit the part in boots and hats, I was certainly not under-dressed myself. My birthday on Monday provided the perfect excuse for an early celebration and I was duly dressed up in hat, plastic pistols and belt, beard and birthday badge. Just call me Davy Crockett from now on please.