March 15, 2017 - Randolph College

Be Where the Ides of March? 

(Okay, that was terrible: sorrynotsorry)

One of the interesting things about doing the Odyssey year after year is that it gives me natural signposts to mark the passage of time.  

For instance: one year prior to this year's March 15 show at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, I was riding the train from New York to Rhode Island.  I had performed at the duPlex Cabaret the night of March 14 in the West Village, a rare but significant public show in conjunction with The Paideia Institute (which led directly to my partnership with them) and I was on my way to Brown University for what would be my second Ivy League school performance.  

This Ides of March I have a civil but annoying itinerary that involves connecting through Charlotte and on to the two gate regional airport in Lynchburg.  It all happens on time but the tiny plane that takes me the last leg of my trip has... propellers.  And it's windy.  So the 30 minute ride is no fun.

I do arrive safely and even early in Lynchburg, a town of around 80,000, for my evening performance at Randolph College, which, up until it went co-ed in 2007, was called Randolph-Macon Woman's College. My contact is the Classics Department chair (who is also the Theatre Department chair).  The bumperstickers on her minivan are an easy invitation to talk politics and she gives me a tour of the town, which is basically driving by the ever-expanding Liberty University and through a quaint downtown.

Randolph College has only 700 students, which is the size of my high school class.  The campus is small (as one would imagine) but has one incredible feature: an accurately constructed Greek amphitheater in which my host puts on biennial productions of Greek tragedies and comedies, complete with authentic masks that have some aspects in the ancient (they're made of linen as was customary) and some in the modern (they're made with the assistance of a 3-D printer).

The story goes that the beautiful Greek amphitheater was the jewel of a Randolph-Macon tradition that stretches back to the early 1900's: putting on Greek theater in the original Ancient Greek.  You read that right: in recited Ancient Greek.  The tradition fell dormant for a number of decades but was resurrected (in English) in the 1990's thanks to my host.

We proceed to the performance venue (thankfully indoors given the blustery 40 degree weather) which is an interesting and acoustically sound 70 seat theater with a steep grade for the seating. After a brief soundcheck, I get checked in to my room... which is in the same building as the performance, the student center. Following some dinner, I get a brief rest and then I walk into the venue to find the audience filling in already, 30 minutes before the scheduled start. One of the attendees is reading the newspaper which has... my picture on it, as part of an excellent story about my performance.  

By the 7:30 start time, every seat is full and several people are sitting in the aisles.  

I feel good about the performance: it's another one-off like Duquesne, but my voice is strong and the discussion afterwards covers a wide range of aspects of the story and my take on it.  We talk morality and anger, we talk Odysseus' motives.  We talk the limitations of my performance and the choices I make in how I interpret Odysseus' story.  I'm fairly certain some of the older audience members were expecting something a little different and more narrative, but that goes with the territory of what I do and how I do it.

Following the discussion, several enthusiastic audience members stick around for further discussion, which is always nice.  One in particular even gets emotional around my portrayal of the mother-son dynamics between Telemachus and Penelope. 

Then it's back to my room for a very little bit of sleep, up at 4:15 a.m. and in a cab to the airport (Lynchburg is small enough that there are zero Ubers available at 4:30 in the morning)... the flight back to Charlotte is much smoother than the ride in, and after a brief layover the flight back home is uneventful save sitting for 40 minutes on the tarmac at O'Hare waiting for a gate.  

Just 14 hours on the ground in Lynchburg on the Ides of March, but a successful show and another memory for future years.

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