Last week we headed north back to New England and snowy Burlington, Vermont. Strangely, there was very little snow at the University of Vermont — a big problem for the thriving ski industry in the mountains there. But the ski industry’s loss was Burlington’s gain as all the hopeful skiers headed to town to one of the many pubs servings artisan beers and food.
This is Bernie Sanders’ town; he was mayor here in the 1980’s, now senator for Vermont. As you walk down Church Street Market you see many badges with the ‘Feel the Bern‘ slogan. It is the birthplace of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and there is quite a hippie vibe about the place.
We were met at the airport by Andrew Barnaby and Freda Farrant who guided us the very short distance to our hotel. At the education meeting Andrew and his wife Lisa were the only tutors that had invited us to their classes so the meeting was very informal over a beer in the hotel. A great start to the week! Most of our workshops were with acting students too, another unusual factor.
We performed in the Flynnspace, the studio space attached to the main house called The Flynn. The Flynn is a fantastic arts venue that is really integrated with the appreciative Burlington artistically-inclined community. We had performances on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This meant on Wednesday we were free to go to the Global Fest music concert in the Flynn’s main space. We saw Casuarina, a lively Samba band all the way from Rio; we listened to the extraordinary tones of Brushy One-String, a solo artist with a solo string guitar from Jamaica; but the overall AFTLS consensus as our favourite act of the evening was the sublime Emeline Michel, Queen of Haitian Song. All five of us were dancing in the aisles. If you have a chance to check these artists out please do! ‘Global Fest Live!‘ is touring so keep your eyes peeled for it in your town.
We had delightful audiences for our three performances. The final audience was raucous to the point of hysterical.
Whilst wandering around Lake Champlain the following day I noticed a young couple I had seen on the front row that had been particularly vocal in their appreciation. I walked past them but thought that I wanted to say something to them so tracked back and thanked them for their response. I was so pleased that I did. Their names were Joe and Taylor. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a very special play for them as they met playing Demetrius and Helena and our production was going to be forever be special to them as they got engaged just before the performance. No wonder they were enjoying it so much! We had another special couple in on Friday night, Helga Duncan and her husband Scott. Helga organized our residency at Stonehill College, Massachusetts back on the Fall leg of the tour. So it was a performance for old friends and new lovers – very apt for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
On our day off, Sam and I popped across the border (before the Canadians build a wall if Trump gets elected) and took a day trip to Montreal. Claire and Chris stayed stateside and went to the mountain resort of Stowe. Patrick stayed in Burlington to study. Fun was had by all particularly when Sam was refused entry back into the USA at the end of the day (Shhh… Don’t tell Deb!) He made it back in by convincing the border guard he was, in fact, Ben Crystal).
We are all particularly excited to be heading south again and out of the snow for AFTLS’ first visit to the The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Choo Choo!
(Blog post by Ffion Jolly)