Westward (Ida)ho! | Richard III visits Boise State

boise As we descended into Idaho’s Boise Airport, we all saw the most dramatic and stunning scenery: the Rocky Mountains, creeks, gorges, ravines, and trees, trees, and more trees. Boise is the “City of Trees” and home to the largest Basque population outside Europe. Idaho is the land of the potato and has over three hundred natural hot springs, much wildlife, and incredibly welcoming people. Mac Test and Maya Duratovic met us at the airport and took us back to a meeting of all the teachers whose classes we would teach in at Boise State University.

Paul O'Mahony (far right) leads a workshops for Mac Test's English class at Boise State University.

Paul O’Mahony (far right) leads a workshop for Mac Test’s English class at Boise State University.

We were formally greeted by Richard Klautsch, head of the Theatre Arts Department and delighted to discover that many drama students would be in our classes. As Hannah Barrie said later in the week “It was great to do some more advanced stuff with them.” Some examples are the Guildhall exercise, ‘Look/Move/Speak,’ and ‘New Move/New Thought’ (which plays around with WHEN the thoughts/lines of a play drop in. Her students LOVED IT.

It was good for us this week as we taught in pairs for some of the lessons and I watched in awe as Alice (in Jen Black’s class) sent her students soaring and roaring with laughter at some of her fantastic ideas to experiment with the text of Richmond’s oration to his troops: do it as a political speech (timely, eh?); do it as a nursery school teacher, explaining it super clearly to us, her tiny students, and allowing us to interrupt or giggle when we liked, which we did a LOT; and then as a hellfire Southern preacher. Brilliant!

Evvy gave a masterful masterclass on Saturday, breaking down and physicalizing separate words in Richard’s oration to his troops (a nastier speech altogether) and gave such great notes that I took them all on stage with me on Saturday night, and I swear  the speech lit up as the result of her lesson. We had a  young schoolgirl, Samia, among us (the class was open to all in Boise) whom Evvy encouraged to perform Richard’s speech with us as his army; Samia said she felt empowered by speaking it.

Paul (full of energy and fiercely intelligent observations) and I taught in Linda Marie Zaerr’s   British Literature class and worked on the second wooing scene with Richard and Queen Elizabeth. She wrote us such a lovely mail that I have to quote it:

“You engaged the students powerfully, and you affirmed their ideas and interpretations while leading them to an awareness of an infinity of possibilities.”

We also had a long Q&A session with students and Boise residents with all of us as a group, and Matthew Hansen, who runs an after school program called ‘Shake it Up’ for very young students, asked a lot of interesting questions. He was paramount in getting us to Boise, and we truly had a wonderful week. The show was received very kindly and got tighter, with raised stakes in our storytelling.

We are all serious “foodies,” so a visit to Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro down near the Capitol was a must and the Andalusian eggs (with asparagus and chorizo), the potato/dill omelet, and the corned beef hash were mind-blowingly good. We managed Idaho trout, salmon, and sturgeon, a trip to the Basque Market, where I ate Paella Roll and bought membrillo, the heavenly, solid quince paste to eat with cheese, and downed a fairly generous amount of Boise Brewing’s pumpkin cider. It’s a community owned company and all the original shareholders have their own ceramic pint pot with their name on, hung up on the wall…a veritable sea of pint pots.

bogus-basinWe drove up and up and up to Bogus Basin, biked along the river from the delightful campus, visited the Basque museum which told of Basque sheepherders emigrating here in the early 20th century and being welcomed in Basque run boarding houses all over Idaho maintaining their traditional dances and cuisine. We then had an extraordinary weekend in a proper mountain log cabin, high up in Lowman and belonging to the exceptionally kind Maya Duratovic’s family.


20161023_124828We saw the Milky Way and more stars than I have ever seen in my life, listened to the fast running and crystal clear creek water, and saw not another soul till we drove to Idaho City the next day to see this perfectly preserved town of 500 people founded when the Gold Rush was on and with its original territorial prison and courthouse and much rusting mining equipment. A proper Wild West town. And then, three hours in the hot springs just down the road. Our little group melting, our shoulders sinking and the smiles spreading. Absolute bloody bliss!

–Liz Crowther