By Annabelle Terry
Sunday 13th February 2022
‘Be vigilant, I beseech you’ – Dogberry 3.3
Let’s go, Falcons!
This week we were in residency at the prestigious USA Air Force Academy in Colorado. I’d heard many times before about Colorado’s beautiful landscape but there really is nothing like seeing it yourself. Snow topped mountains and ancient red rock are the beautiful backdrop of this state and one which, I imagine, never gets old for its residents.
Getting to be on base at the Air Force Academy was an experience I will never forget. When the cadets weren’t flying or jumping out of planes they were in workshops with us for the week! I was intrigued to see how they would take to learning and trying their hand at some Shakespeare and, unsurprisingly, they encountered the task with vigor and respect. It was a delight to see my workshop full of future military members and leaders performing the storm scene from The Tempest – zooming across the room in wheelie chairs as boats and banging on the walls to create thunder.
We were treated to a tour of the campus by 3 brilliant cadets and given a real insight into the rigorous training they undertake during their four years at base. There was a palpable sense of comradery and belonging, albeit intense, and us actors came away feeling very lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of it for a moment in time.
The theatre space we performed in on Thursday was HUGE. A five thousand seat venue with a massive stage, usually used for presentations and award ceremonies. Safe to say we felt a little daunted when putting our minimal props and set out, but after a tech rehearsal we quickly adjusted – after all, that’s the nature of touring; each venue is different from the last and you attune your performance accordingly to suit. And what a blast it was! Despite sitting in this massive venue, our audience still felt right there with us, listening to our show and responding generously. This really hit home for me that Shakespeare’s works are and should be for everyone, not just the choice few who can interpret it on a scholastic level. Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed in pubs, taverns and alehouses for everyone to hear and enjoy, and it’s only in our lifetime that it can often be made exclusive and reverential. I really enjoyed breaking down these barriers with the students in the workshops, topped off by the ultimately relatable Much Ado, I think was a great move. The faculty at USAFA were brilliant too and eager to learn how they can continue to get the cadets learning in a more active way in the classroom, which was really refreshing to hear.
A highlight of the week was watching the college ice hockey game on Friday night – it was brutal and passionate, but I was more impressed by the college’s brass band who played throughout the game. It was a great atmosphere. At the weekend there was so much to pack in and see. On Saturday we took the train up Pike’s Peak and stood at the summit taking in the unbelievable views, and on Sunday we went to the aptly named Garden of the Gods to look at the billion year old red rocks. It was truly unforgettable.
We are headed back to Indiana next for our next residency at Grace College by Winona Lake. We’re all very excited to be back in the state we started the tour and to see some familiar faces…