By Annabelle Terry
Sunday 20th February 2022
‘Contempt, farewell! And maiden pride, adieu!’ – Beatrice 3.1
Indiana round two.
This week the AFTLS tour was back in Indiana but this time by Winona Lake at Grace College. As soon as we arrived at our hotel (having been driven there in a limo, I should add!) we were taken to look around campus including the Little Theatre where we were due to perform later in the week. Though it be but little, it is fierce – a lovely intimate venue with about 100 seats for the audience – perfect for our show and Shakespeare shows in general, I think.
We spent the week delivering various workshops with the students at Grace and enjoying the views around the Lake which, yes, was frozen! It seems to cold weather was following us again as we were due for another ice storm by the time opening night came around on Thursday. The snow came thick and fast but, thanks to the resilience of the English department, the show went on!
We played to sold out audiences all three nights we played and it was great to see the students we had met that week in the crowd – it was particularly rewarding for me to have the ‘Back in Five’ college improv troop watching, as I had led (and participated in) an improvisation workshop with them earlier that week. Between the 5 of them they had a great positive energy and playfulness which was infectious. It struck me how much AFTLS’ style of performance would appeal to those that also enjoy watching improv – yes, we have scripts that we follow, but we remain on stage throughout changing ‘hats’, as it were, at the drop of a hat to become the different characters; the same occurs in an improv show a lot of the time. With this being said, it came naturally to Back in Five when I handed them the Dogberry/Sexton scene in Much Ado and asked them to have a go at staging it themselves and play all 8 characters in the scene between them. They were naturals! And hopefully now more confident to have fun with Shakespearean texts.
It was great to have 3 consecutive shows this week. It meant we were able to find new moments within the show and now have the nerves throughout which often come when only doing one performance. The response was, again, wonderful. One student came and thanked us after one night saying “college kids are starved of romance!” and how they had enjoyed seeing this story of comedy, tragedy and love mixed into one. Others were surprised at how much they managed to follow and enjoy it, having never watched one of Shakespeare’s plays. I do think Much Ado is a special show and a crowd pleaser to perform – it has all the punchlines, quick wit and farcical possibilities followed by the most gut wrenching drama and emotional language. It remains one of my favourites and even more so after this tour.
Tomorrow we will be down south in Alabama and I’m looking forward to some slightly warmer weather and to visit UNA.