“The Tempest” Spring 2020 Tour: Entry #8

By David Rubin

Our week at The University of North Alabama turned out to be our final week of the tour.

We had been due to do one more week but, as with much of the world’s activity in reaction to the Coronavirus issues, our tour had to be cancelled. As I write this I am en route back home to London (along with Noel and William… and Molly and Arthur will be flying back tomorrow). Today is March 15th.

We had been due in Logan, Utah, for our final week, but with the escalating worldwide concerns, we’re all agreed heading home at this point is the best/safest option.

Florence, Alabama, was our last location, then, before bidding farewell to the U S of A, and a wonderful week we had! Our host there, Cynthia Burkhead, was fantastic. She met us at the airport, took us out for a couple of fancy dinners, showered us with gifts, and presided over a really special week’s residency at the University.

Florence is a city in the northwest corner of Alabama. A population of around 40,000, and known as relatively liberal in what is an infamously conservative state. We performed the play three times this week…twice at one of the University theatres and once at The Limestone Correctional Facility, about 60 miles east of Florence. The performance in the jail, to around 30 of the facility’s ‘residents’, plus a dozen or so students from the Uni, was a rare experience. One I will remember always. My final words in the play resonated like never before in front of our literally ‘captive’ audience. An audience so switched on to our work and Shakespeare’s words because of the brilliant ongoing collaboration between the University and the Correctional Facility.

‘As you from crimes would pardoned be
Let your indulgence set me free.’

Final Update, Monday May 18th, 2020

So. I got back to London on the 16th March. One week early. But that week allowed me to spend some time with my father for the last time before he passed away. So I’m very grateful to have got back when I did.

Dad was in a care home, and as of March 21st they went into ‘lockdown’ – no visitors. So on that day my mum and I did spend some time with him. After that our only contact was by phone.

He passed away on April 14th. (Not from COVID-19.) He was 86 years old. We’ve since had an odd socially distanced funeral and I’m now living with my mum. I’ll remember this tour always and it will also always be a reminder of loving memories of my dear old dad. We had lots of WhatsApp chats while I was away I’m pleased to say.

Thanks all for reading and sharing my experiences throughout the tour.