Well folks, it's been a while. Sorry about that. You ready? Here goes:

New Haven seems such a distant memory, but I suppose that's where we left off. After New Haven, we went to Norwalk, CT, which hadn't very many people, and we had a new play to start rehearsing, The Path of True Love, so we decided to concentrate on that. Someone told us, however, that while in the area we had to check out the Westport Country Playhouse, just up the road in Westport, so we did. We found a park to rehearse in just behind the theater, and then happened to meet Michael Ross, the managing director of the theater, who gave us free tickets to see that night's show, Room Service. The play was wonderful, a fast-paced comedy about New York showbiz. It was fun to be reminded of that more common world of theater, the kind that doesn't involve living in small buses.

Next stop was a lovely little farmers market in Stamford, CT, and then it was on to New York! We stayed with my (Forrest's) friend Jesse in Brooklyn. We performed several places while in New York, mostly farmers markets in Queens and Brooklyn. We had one very interesting experience with a performance of Fool's Gold in McGolrick Park in Brooklyn. The audience was mostly kids with their parents, and several of the kids got very invested in the world of invisible objects that the play begins with. They then got very excited when the first real object appears, a key, talking and shouting about it. But the real surprise came when the real chest of treasure came on stage; as soon as it was open, the kids rushed the stage and started grabbing handfuls of the prop treasure! Fortunately their parents were all on hand to yell at them to give it back, and they did for the most part, but it was certainly a fascinating lesson to us in how excited and involved in the story kids can get.

Partway through our stay in New York we said goodbye to two of our troupe members, Robyn and Nathan, as they headed back to Michigan. We are grateful for their part in the project, and we wish them well on their next adventures. This Wednesday we will be welcoming a new member on board the Vagari Project, the much spoken of Matt Frost. He'll be catching up with us in Richmond, Virginia.

After New York, we made a short stop at a farmers market in Edison, New Jersey, where we received a very warm welcome. The organizers asked us to drive our bus right into the middle of the market and perform with it as a backdrop, which we've never yet had the opportunity to do. Also, a big shout-out to Joe and the Raritan Bakery of Edison. Joe sent us on our way with many sweet goodies and fresh loaves of bread for the road. Next stop was Philadelphia. First we had a quiet day off there, resting up and recuperating from New York. Then on Tuesday (last week) we performed both in Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square park. One funny thing we learned about Philly while driving in it: Honking is used for all kinds of expressions. On several occasions I was startled by people repeatedly beeping their horns as they passed me, only to then see they were pointing at our bus, and giving us thumbs-up and smiles and the like.

On Wednesday in Philly we had some interesting challenges: Our first ever indoor performances! The first was at the Plymouth Meeting Friends School, which my cousins used to attend and my aunt teaches at (we were staying with them in Philly). We were going to have the performance out on the blacktop, but poor weather forced us into the gym. The whole school was there, about sixty kids, kindergarten through sixth grade. We remembered quite quickly that gyms echo noise a lot more than parks do. Certainly some lines were not understood as we adjusted, but adjust we did. The kids had a lot of fun with it, and so did we. That evening we performed in a much different space, my aunt and uncle's living room. They invited the whole block over for dinner and theater, and we rearranged the furniture, cleared some room, and did our shows for an audience of about 20 in a space only a few times larger than our (very small) bus. Amazingly, we didn't have to adapt to much of the physicality of the show. I suppose we're pretty used to adapting it to different shapes and sizes of performance space, so except for the ceiling above us, it wasn't too far out of the ordinary. We did have to decrease the volume significantly though, much more than at the school. We're so used to shouting over the din of traffic and the general noise of life, it's suddenly quite strange to perform for a group of people who are all in the same quiet place as us and giving us their full attention.

After Philly we spent Halloween in Newark, Delaware, enjoying not receiving odd looks for wearing funny clothes and masks for once. We practiced our commedia skills, doing some improvisations in character, creating very basic problems and goals for our commedia characters and playing them out together. Once Matt joins us, we're going to start creating our own commedia-style play based on all the things we've discovered working with the other pieces, and of course our own ideas.

Baltimore was a fun city, we performed first at Inner Harbor, with the water and ships as our backdrop, and then in the neighborhood of Hampden in the evening. They had a first Friday of the month event downtown, where all the galleries and and antique shops and such were open late and had food and drink, and everyone was out on the town.

This weekend we were in our nation's fine capital. We performed at Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, downtown Bethesda, and Georgetown. Eastern Market was definitely our best spot. We went there both days. On weekends they have huge outdoor markets surrounding the indoor market, and the place was bustling. We also got a fun treat of our own. In Baltimore we met Gina, who teaches commedia dell'arte, and who recommended we contact a colleague of hers in DC, Matt, who's the artistic director of Faction of Fools, a commedia dell'arte theater company. We emailed him, and he invited us to sit in on a run-through of a commedia show he's directing at the University of Maryland, Molière Impromptu. This was such a treat, and very inspiring. We left a little dazed, but full of ideas.

Today we had a day off in Washington and took time to explore downtown and visit many various monuments, memorials, and museums. Next stop is Fredericksburg, Virginia, and then Richmond later in the week. The Vagari Project presses southward!


Leslie Barkley
11/05/2013 12:57am

Well, frak, I had hoped to hear when you were near so I could come see you perform. Ah well.

11/06/2013 1:35pm

Ya'all sound like you're doing exactly what you set out to do. Keep on keepin' on! So glad to hear of the variety of settings and audiences.


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