“King Lear” Spring 2019 Tour – Entry #5

by Jonathan Dryden Taylor

Well, we can add ‘pulled over by the police on the interstate’ to our list of life experiences. On the journey from South Bend to Cleveland, we found ourselves stationary by the side of the road as a very diligent Ohio State Trooper quizzed our driver on who we were and what we were doing there. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a stretch limo on a motorway either, so I guess I’d have been a little curious…

That moment aside, it made a nice change to move venues on a road rather than in the sky, not least because all our suitcases are hovering round the dangerous 50lbs mark and a certain amount of hurried repacking tends to happen at airports. The journey was only around four hours or so and once we’d picked up our rental cars for the week we were able to check into our hotel.

I became aware of some of my priorities in life when I first saw my hotel room. We’ve been in some truly luxurious digs on this tour but this was the first time the rooms had had a bath rather than just a shower, and, better still, they had a fully fitted kitchenette! Apparently it doesn’t take the lap of luxury to make me happy: a hob, a measuring jug and a few pans will do it.

Cooking is the way I de-stress and calm down, so not having picked up a wooden spoon for three weeks had probably left me quite tightly wound. As soon as was humanly possible I was happily browsing the aisles at Trader Joe’s, and not long after that I was blissfully stirring a beef stew that became the basis of most of the week’s meals.

So determined was I to get it right that I popped down to the minimart at the hotel reception to get some beer for a good ale gravy, not stopping to think that buying strong IPA in a hotel at 10am might not be the best piece of reputation management I’ve ever achieved.

The welcome at John Carroll University was as warm as we’ve come to expect, and the classes were particularly diverse this week. As well as the O’Malley building which houses the arts and humanities, we also worked with the scientists in the Dolan building, and in the Boler Business School. It was a busy week with a number of classes each, but we all had our highlights.

Taking her lead from Lear’s ‘Poor naked wretches’ speech, Tricia delivered classes on poverty, social inequality and ‘cli-fi’ (a genre new to most of us!). Ffion tackled the relationship between Shakespeare and popular culture- a relationship she embodies in the show with her performance-poet take on the Fool. Richard examined the Psychology of Autism, and Fred and I literally taught the same class to a different set of students back to back (although our versions of the class were apparently pretty divergent!)

The giant Kulas Auditorium was our home for the week and it was great to bring the show to a space which matches the dimensions of the play itself. Jean Feerick and her colleagues in the English faculty couldn’t have been more welcoming and after our Friday night show we were taken for a very generous meal, in a restaurant whose décor some of us couldn’t resist paying tribute to…