“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Spring 2024 Tour: Entry #1

By Sam Hill

I’ll put a girdle about the earth in 40 minutes.

If only…

I had a lie in the day we flew. I got up at 6:00am. My castmates (and now, after 5 weeks of rehearsals, my friends!) got up at 5:00am. I met Natasha by the taxi and we loaded our suitcases like a game of Tetris into the boot. On arrival at the airport, we of course, had a drink. For those not familiar with British drinking culture, morning drinking is acceptable at Christmas and at airports. Why it has developed that way I cannot say.

Our flight got off to a rip-roaring start with a 3 hour delay. We had actually boarded the plane at this point, but were grounded at Heathrow. I looked despondently at the little airplane on my screen which should be inching its way across England, over Ireland, skimming the Atlantic to Canada, and then sliding, smoothly down into Chicago.

We did eventually take off and 8 hours and three films later, landed, without so much
as a bump.

OH MY. THE. COLD. Leaving Chicago airport felt like walking out into The Day After Tomorrow. The door to our taxi had frozen over, as had the door to the plane which had caused another delay getting our luggage. We did manage to pry open the taxi door and get huddled into the cab. A two hour drive took us to our hotel and then, finally, we looked at each other wearily and softly said ‘sweet friends, to bed’. Actually, we didn’t say that, but I kind of wish we had.

The following week was a rehearsal week punctuated with tax meetings, bank meetings, faculty meetings and other administrative duties. As well as getting used to the time difference which hit us surprisingly hard. Our bodies felt 6 hours ahead at all times. Most of us were waking up at about 4:00am and have to try to stay in bed until at least 7:00. We are very lucky that Lucy is also a personal trainer and have been enjoying gym sessions in the morning.

On Thursday we went to the Crooked Ewe brewery. The ‘who am I’ beer is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and we were treated to mountains of food. Our eyes shone as plates of brisket, fries, burgers, tacos, poutine and more were placed before us. The food from the American TV shows of our childhood was suddenly in front of us and we did not stand upon ceremony. Talk quickly turned to Shakespeare. The challenge being to answer the following:

1) Which is the best Shakespeare play?
2) Which is your personal favourite?
3) Which play would you not touch with a 20 ft pole.

I answered:

1) King Lear
2) Twelfth Night
3) Cymbeline

I confess I have changed my mind about five times on this.

The end of week one involved a weekend trip to Chicago. Jen, a member of Shakespeare at Notre Dame team, took us from South Bend to the Windy City and she did so with patience, grace and expert snow-driving. Our first stop was the Art Institute which left us all speechless. Anna described it perfectly as being as if the National Gallery, the Tate Modern and V&A had been rolled into one. The next day we went to a brunch place in Andersonville which had French Toast so perfect it looked like it has been taken out of a cartoon (Note to self: you can’t only talk about food on the blog). We finished our trip watching a band at Andy’s Jazz bar, sipping a Cocktail. Life back in dreary England is going to be tough after this.

Post-Script: A Warning to the Curious
I had a pickle back in Chicago. I expected it to be more than the sum of its parts. By which I mean, I expected the combination of Whisky followed immediately by Pickle Juice to create a new flavour which I had not experienced. I can only say this is dramatically not the case. It tastes exactly like a whisky followed by pickle juice. I feel obliged to inform people of this. Thank you. Over and out.