“King Lear” Spring 2019 Tour – Entry #7

By Jonathan Dryden Taylor

Pro tip: if you’re an actor visiting Los Angeles for the first time, it really, really helps if you already have an acting job when you arrive.

Our status as actors has made us something of a novelty in several of the places we’ve visited, and has led to several delighted conversations. In LA? Not so much. The way to stand out in the home of the entertainment industry is probably to say you’re not an actor.

On touching down from Kansas (“I’ve got a feeling we’re not…” etc., etc.) the first, welcome change was the weather. I’ve tried not to spend too much time in these blogs moaning about being cold, but let’s be clear: we’ve been quite cold. The balmy, smoggy, scented air in LA gave a holiday feeling to our arrival, one which lasted despite our work schedule.

Classes at Occidental were a joy – really engaged, energetic students of both the undergraduate and the high-school variety, and mainly focused on acting and theatre, so although we didn’t have the usual variety of subject matter we were maybe able to feel a little more expert.

The Keck Theater was filled pretty much to capacity for our one performance, with one of the liveliest and most responsive audiences we’ve had on our travels. And because there was a reception laid on after the show with drinks and snacks (a delightful surprise to us when we emerged front of house after the show) we were able to meet and chat to some of the audience.

It was wonderful to get some direct and immediate feedback. And although that kind of feedback is necessarily going to veer towards the positive – it’s a brave, or a rude, person who would approach an actor as they grab a canapé after a three hour show to say ‘Boy, did you suck!’ – the show seemed to have touched people in just the way we’d hoped and we were all told some really lovely things.

And of course because we’re all actors, of all the places on our tour we were likely to have friends, LA was top of the list. I got to spend time with a friend of 27 years standing who I hadn’t seen since he felt the lure of Hollywood five years ago.

Fred caught up with his old Youth Theatre mentor, who is something of a Hollywood name himself, and Ffion and Tricia were also able to catch up with friends. When you’re away from home for a long time, old friends matter.

Four of us caught a match at LA Galaxy (complete with a surprise appearance by our compatriot David Beckham, who was being inducted into the club’s hall of fame), three of us were entertained at the Comedy Store, and two of us took a tour of the Hollywood Hills and found out that Britney Spears and Quentin Tarantino have both owned the same house. If those walls could talk…

And now we head to San Francisco, the shortest ‘commute’ of the tour so far. California has been a joy – it’s lovely to be spending another week here before we head back East.

Now if you’ll forgive me, I’m off to find some flowers to wear in my hair. And if you get that reference, you’re probably even older than I am.