“The Tempest” Spring 2020 Tour: Entry #3

By David Rubin

A rather cold and snowy week in South Bend, back at the University of Notre Dame – but full of very warm receptions… even at the Social Security office, where some of us had to go, for to be issued our Social Security numbers, that we might continue our work here.

So, then…

Multiple workshops variously delivered, plus three more performances of our company devised ‘Tempest’ – this week on the slightly ‘thrust’ stage of Washington Hall, on campus. Each night’s audience was larger and more enthusiastic than the last’s.

Deb, Jason, Scott, Sidney and Peter were on hand with help throughout the week.

The show itself certainly found more of its… groove, I’d say. It’s rhythmically finding itself. We’re still tinkering on bits. And there’ve been some little lapses of memory or liberties with lines. Molly gets top honours for rescuing one of my moments by summoning herself with “Come hither, Spirit”.- me then legging it, late, to where we usually hither it to, ha ha ha!….ish.

We had some fun filming some Shakespeare educational material, this week at Notre Dame, too.

It’s Sunday evening now, and I’m in a nice Chicago hotel after a two day holiday here, courtesy of our Notre Dame hosts, whom we left on Friday night, straight after the evening’s show.

We’ve all had a great time here in Chicago.

Much imbibement and many hours of music.

Saturday night, Noel and I went to Dick’s Last Resort to watch ‘dueling pianos,’ which also included alternating drummers (the pianists) accompanying said pianos. So Noel and I ended up playing drums for them for most of the night. We then went on to Howl At The Moon to watch another band – along with some of the band from the Dick’s gig. Then Molly and Arthur joined us at the second gig, too, for what was a very jolly night all round. Will reported as much of his night carousing, too.

Yes to Chicago. But like South Bend, it’s cold here, too.

And Chicago, of course, is also… mighty pretty.

Chicago’s Institute of Art contains much to muse. Including loads of really well-known works. I spent a few hours there Saturday afternoon. So many Picassos!

And before that, in the morning, after a walk around downtown, I had reveled, together with hundreds of others, in and around Anish Kapoors’s superb Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, near the Lake shore. An amazing piece bringing vibrant community and joy. Much more time here needed to fully appreciate it, I feel.

But it was a lovely break and a good snapshot of the city for us.

I’ve just watched the Oscars. I can’t help loving the fact that the Academy President – who keeps getting namechecked – is also David Rubin! I hope all my actor friends and directors etc. looked twice or fell out of their seats on hearing me announced to make a speech on the stage! And I’m very pleased that Renee Zellweger got the Best Actress Oscar for Judy. Now I’ve been in an Oscar-winning film! [I had previously been in an Oscar-nominated film… ’Brooms’ by Stomp, in the Best Live Action category, but it didn’t win.] But enough about me…

Actually, no, it’s my blog… so maybe just a little more about me… and yes, possibly something wondrous about the tour and the play, too…

But that’ll all be next week.

For now, please enjoy thousands of words painted for you in a few of my pictures.

“The Tempest” Spring 2020 Tour: Entry #2

By David Rubin

Ah! Blog #2…which is a little late due to some car trouble in New Jersey.

Long story short : I visited one Mr. Tom Miscia, at his home in New Jersey (not seen him for 33 years – he came over on a Performance Arts exchange visit from Montclair Uni to Middlesex Poly in ’87)…but I got locked out of our hire vehicle as I was about to head back to our hotel on Long Island and I ended up getting back there very, very late.

Next day we ended our week at Molloy College with a flight back to Notre Dame for Week 2 of the tour. We all arrived rather tired.

So. Week 1 saw us present our play before an audience for the first time.

Three performances at The Madison Theatre – having also run a series of workshops for students from Molloy College. There was a Q&A after the first showing, which was very informative. Again, the craving for ‘outside eyes’ was upon us.

We’ve now re-tweaked our opening storm. Less is more. We’re able to speak most of it now instead of the slight shout fest it was when fully accompanied/underscored.

And we’ve improved some of the transitions between characters that we have to make when playing more than one character in a scene.

Molly’s clear and brilliant portrayal of each of her 5 characters brought huge praise from the audience. “She’s like the anchor of the piece.”

A few of the audience said we “moved like dancers through the space” and loved the “physicalisations.”

The play itself went down very well, though the audiences were quite small (about 80-100 in a 500-seater)… and there was a reverence from them that it was good to see broken down as the play went on. There’s a section where the Spirit Goddesses of the island are summoned by Prospero to perform, and we include the audience in this, which proves to be a real breakthrough moment.

My personal thanks to Arthur for now keeping my Antonio alive throughout a scene where I’m also playing Prospero. It looks like one hell of an arm ache to me…he holds my hat in his outstretched arm for a quite unreasonable number of minutes to ‘keep Antonio present’ when I duck out of it to play Prospero. I do duck back into it to speak as Antonio again, eventually.

So we were in the state of New York and therefore made many visits into Manhattan to see friends, plays, sights and pizza parlours. Molloy College itself is situated on Long Island, about 35 miles from the Big Apple.

It brought back many memories for me, being where we were, in Hempstead, Long Island… Some 35 years ago my best friend Mark Nathan and I lived in Manhattan (on East 60th Street under the Queensboro Bridge) during our gap year – and we spent much of our time canvassing towns on Long Island, selling memberships for Greenpeace. We were part of the team that set up the first Greenpeace NYC office in 1984.

And now we’re back at Notre Dame. We’re expecting much bigger audiences here. It’s the Company’s “home.” We’re very well looked after everywhere we go, and with just five of us in the company, we very much enjoy each week’s encounters with the different students and staff.

Tune in next week to see how it’s gone!

PS I miss my girlfriend, Sally…

“The Tempest” Spring 2020 Tour: Entry #1

By David Rubin

Hello and welcome to this blog. I will be writing a weekly update about our tour of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. We are a company of 5 actors, each playing multiple roles in the production, which is a full text version that we have devised ourselves, with no director.

We are Actors From The London Stage, and the company was founded 45 years ago, Sir Patrick Stewart being one of the two founding members, along with Dr. Homer Swander.

Our tour lasts eight weeks and visits eight different Universities across North America. Our producers are from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, where we have spent the last week preparing for Week One of the tour in New York…

Beginning next week!

I’m David Rubin and I play Prospero – and also his wicked brother Antonio.
William Donaldson plays Alonso, Stephano, Juno and The Master/Captain.
Molly Vevers plays Miranda, Ariel, Adrian, The Boatswain and Ceres.
Arthur Wilson plays Ferdinand, Trinculo and Sebastian.
Noel White plays Caliban, Gonzalo and Iris.

L to R: David Rubin, Noel White, Arthur Wilson, Molly Vevers, William Donaldson.

We are just about ready!

The first public performance is this Thursday, January 30th. In the days leading up to that we will be running workshops at Molloy College, NY. We also have two more dress rehearsals scheduled in before Thursday, so by then we will, we’re sure, be ready…

Our final week of rehearsal, here at Notre Dame, was a good one.

It followed 5 weeks of rehearsals in Brixton, London, during which we wrangled our way through this unique ‘no director’ set up. The process requires much negotiation. I think I speak for all five of us when I say we are pleased with what we have devised and are very much looking forward to a live audience reaction.

Rehearsals in London.

Rehearsals in London continue.

Snacking and chatting.

During this last week we did have the benefit of a few pairs of ‘outside eyes’ seeing our work before it goes public: lecturers and professors from the English and Theatre Departments at Notre Dame.

It has proved very useful. We’ve tightened the ship, and are ready for The Tempest to begin.

Rehearsing at Notre Dame.

So many discoveries already. So many more to come.

It’s an amazing play. The language and themes, the characters, the ideas and the images conjured are all, true to Shakespeare at his best, endlessly fascinating and explorable. And incredibly, the play still has great relevance 410 years after being written.

If you have the chance, do come and see the production for yourself,

Thank you, Notre Dame. We are back here for Week Two of the tour.