America Day 04 – Rambles and Shambles

Every day I switch off the air conditioning. Every day the cleaners switch it back on. Irrespective of whether or not it’s off at the thermostat it goes on with a bang early in the morning anyway so I don’t know why we bother. We have been in a work / sleep cycle right now, putting the finishing touches on the show, and that air con burst is how I wake up every morning whether or not I want to.

We are very used to being alone together now, the five of us. We have found a dynamic. It works. From the start of rehearsal we have made time for games and warm-ups together and this has gradually knit us into a tight community that understands one other and looks after one another. It’s a very loving room, and a talented bunch.

But we haven’t had time to look at the scenery. Every morning we bundle into a huge vehicle and drive the short distance to Washington Hall. We climb three flights of stairs into a pillared rehearsal room. We practice our instruments, warm up, play four square, and start to dig in to the detail of this remarkable and complicated play, Twelfth Night. We work with just the five of us, stepping out to offer helpful insights when available.

By now we have so many in-jokes. It’s like we’ve been stranded on a desert island together for years. Language has started to change and devolve into all sorts of shorthand borne from necessity and ease of use. All of us love a durational joke. We have so many now. By the end of the tour we will have invented our own unique incomprehensible dialect. It’s already absurd and delightful. And so much of it is inspired by the language of this ancient dead playwright. His mischief. His facility with meaning. His light in the dark. His dark in the light.

I fancy seeing a bit more. The memorials of the town. Every night we finish pretty late but in the evenings we go to Eddie Street and eat in one of a very small number of outlets in walking distance from the hotel. We are in a sort of enclave here, removed from South Bend itself and attached to the university. The campus is truly remarkable, filled with art and sculpture. Eddie Street has two bars and a bunch of eateries where you walk down the line and they try to make you pay extra for guacamole.

Until the end of this week though, we will be working. No time for sightseeing. Tightening moments that need tightening, examining moments that haven’t been examined yet, really plumbing into the depths of what this play with this bunch of minds attached to it has got to say now. And laughing. Lots of laughing.


“You’re English,” said the guy in the lift just now to Kaffe and I. “Is it in a shambles, or a shambles?” “It’s an absolute shambles” we both responded reflexively, jolted back to the slow motion car crash that is taking place with Bojo the clown thousands of miles to the east of us. But embarrassingly it turns out these guys are just asking about grammar. They look sheepish. “There’s an English guy in our team who uses the word is all…” I try to win it back by telling them about The Shambles in York for a bit of etymology, but the lift goes bing. Oh well.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

2 thoughts on “America Day 04 – Rambles and Shambles”

  1. I have been involved in many summer season shows and it is always sad to note how much funnier the last two weeks are than the first few. Just when it reached perfection, it’s the last night. T


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