America Day 66 – Pike’s Peak

This morning was mostly spent in a small room with lots of extremely healthy young men and women. It ended up mostly about me working them through the Sebastian and Antonio scene from The Tempest: “What art thou waking?” “Dost thou not hear me speak?” It’s a good one in terms of waking people up, and it stands up to quite a lot of mining when it comes to meaning, intentions and context. I had some backup scenes in case I felt that it wasn’t rich enough, but I didn’t need any of them. I’ve just done The Tempest in Oxford with Creation, and the two parts were played by very dear friends. I missed them while teaching it.

Kelly was the teacher and officer in charge. She starts the class by saying “Who wants to start the class?” Often before she has finished the question they are all on their feet at ease and whoever self selects calls them to attention and gets them all to salute the start of the class. Then she gets one of them to close the door. Witnessing it once was unusual, twice and I understood it, three times and I thought it was a stroke of genius. She is respected, and she is worthy of respect.

The classes all started with 20 alert young men and women ready to go. I could then channel a bit of chaos and a bit of joy and just … make it different for them whilst grinding my axe about how this stuff changes when it’s spoken out loud. Kelly is an inspiration, and so are these students. I’ve never got so many layers into the focus game, but there was so much surprising room for mischief that I felt totally at home. As soon as they realised this was a class where anything goes, they stepped up to bar and had fun and allowed mischief. I had a great three hours, and I think they did too, and hopefully will have taken stuff from it. It’s weird teaching when you’re not identifying as a teacher. It takes the pressure off and it puts it on…

Today’s play was The Tempest. It’s a constant shift with this job. Sure, we are performing Twelfth Night but it’s often not what the people we are teaching are studying. We could do a class about Twelfth Night under the terms of the contract, but it’s nicer if we can find a way to bring in their active text. So I did.

After an amazing morning with these remarkably fit and willing students, I had the afternoon off.

In San Antonio, the guys who are officially on tech duty told Jono and I – (travel and education) – that we didn’t have to come to tech. At first I resisted – doing the tech was a big part of my first tour. “I want to come and make sense of the space.” Then I realised that I should trust the others, and that the extracurricular jobs have been arranged like that for a reason. Then I realised that it gave us both an evening off. So I embraced it.

It takes 45 minutes to drive to the top of Pike’s Peak from the pay point. It sits at over 14,000 foot in altitude at the peak and for the princely sum of $15 PER PASSENGER they let you drive up there through all the switchbacks. The cadets we ate lunch with hike up there frequently, but they’re made out of rocks and we don’t have the time. You need to carry a tent. Jono and I finished work at lunchtime and we went on a mission by car, knowing that they chase you down at 4pm when they’re about to lose the light.


It was stunning up there, even if the top of it has been turned into a construction site temporarily. We got up there and saw panoramic views across the state to the plains beyond. It is incredible being here, truly. Having done no research beforehand, my expectation of Colorado was South Park. But the weather so far has been so astonishing here at the the base of the mountains that I’m already happy to say that this is the most beautiful residency I’ve had the pleasure to do with this company over two tours. It beats Utah.

While Jono and I were up the mountain, the tech guys looked at the theatre, and sent us a video. It’s fucking humungous. Row upon row upon row. 4,000 seats on two levels.

I’ve been teaching breath work across this country. I’ve started most of my classes with breathing. I am going to have to get finely onto my breath in that place tomorrow – into my resonance – sharp with my articulation. All the things I’ve been teaching the more drama related students, I will have to practice what I preach. Because in a place that big, it’s radiate or die. And if I’m not on my voice it’ll be unsafe use for me. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s gonna be intense. Boo-yah.

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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