America Day 59 – Macbeth and Education

It turns out it’s only about an hour’s drive from this little town we are staying in to Notre Dame, South Bend, where this madness started off for us. Also, we have a night off tonight, and married to that, our old friend Paul is at Notre Dame tonight doing his two man Macbeth.

Paul was one of the five of us five years ago, the first time I did this job, with Claire in the company too – and Jack, who I’ll be Carolling with on my return. We did Much Ado back then. We had a lovely time, so much so that I knew I wanted to go round again. And I have! Which allowed me to catch his Macbeth.

His life has changed so much since we toured back then. Since then he’s married an old friend of mine from drama school, who he met on this job. They’ve got one kid already and another on the way! They are all out in America, but I missed Hannah and their daughter. They are in Iowa to cut down on travel. Shame.

The two of them did a wonderful job of Macbeth tonight. It was clear and moving and funny and fresh. Such a portable show, so deftly told, and the whole story in an hour and a half straight through with no interval, so we got to hang out in the pub afterwards for one before driving back through the darkness and rain on the atrociously lit Indiana highways. Claire and I got a Burger King on the way home as it was the only thing open. I also grabbed one for lunch today and stuffed it into my face. They are the first two Burger King burgers I’ve had in as long as I can remember. Both on the same day… I hope I make it through the night.

I’m keeping busy out here… My extracurricular duty on this tour is “Education”. It’s an absolute shocker in terms of work. And the last week is the hardest one yet. I’m under massive time pressure to get it out – I’m already overdue. It’s to do with managing your and other people’s fear of the unknown.

We get sent all these incomprehensible class requests – and next week is the weirdest yet.

The academics who know the company already have a better understanding of what we bring and how to ask for it. The institution next week has never had us before and is talking to us as if we too are professors in philosophy and neurolinguistics or whatever they are professors in. But of course they are being like that. That’s why our actual heads will be helpful in their classes.

It made sense to just … divvy up the classes maximising practicality and individual relationships with tutors. I took the first early class and the only Saturday class, as the start of the week is always harder work before they’ve seen the show and have context and then the Saturday means the other four get a full weekend in Colorado. (The class does happen to be on Christmas Carol, so at least I know I can do it without stress – a relief considering it’s first thing in the morning.)

I took ages looking at timings whilst making sure that we all did the same number and nobody clashed with themselves or had too many in one day. Although it’s impossible to tell which will turn out to be hard classes, I arbitrated everybody a scattering of easy and a scattering of hard looking ones trying to take care of them and fit my understanding of their strengths as far as possible – (although everybody this week will have at least one hard looking class for them.)


But before I sign that off it turns out I’ll have to spend a bit of time assuring people that they don’t have to be professors. Also nobody likes to be told what to do, so I expect I’ll now have to make some arbitrary changes as a result of arbitrating things in the first place. “The thing you told me to do is the only thing I refuse to do”.

So be it. Humans.

It’s the last week. It’s the worst week for classes. We are all actors not teachers. Let’s just get through it together. We will all be pleasantly surprised, as we always are.

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.

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