It’s Matthew here, writing to you exactly ONE YEAR since Bryan and I opened The Celtic Cross here in Seattle. It’s unbelievable to think how much has happened in that year. We have performed in 13 cities, visited many more, listened to six-and-a-half Harry Potter books on tape, met some wonderful, giving, and sometimes completely insane people, and have built some incredible memories. This email is going to be a retrospective on our last year together, a sort of wrap-up of our tour. It’s an email I found in our drafts section that Bryan and I wrote when we both returned to Seattle in January. For some reason (I can think of two: Matthew being forgetful, and Bryan not yelling at Matthew for being forgetful), I never sent it, so here it is now. What better time to give a retrospective than exactly one year from our inaugural production as a company?
For the wrap-up, we’d like to give you a little yearbook action, with a “most-likely to” or two for each city we went to. At least, a “most-likely to” from Wanderweg’s perspective. So here goes.
Most Likely To:
Seattle: Most likely to be RIDICULOUSLY hot for only one week, which of course coincided with our week in a theatre that had no air-conditioning . . .
photo courtesy of Alyson Sundal
Victoria BC: Most likely place to find bomb-ass noodles and still feel like you’re in “Little England.” Oh, and have your inaugural Fringe Festival as a company. That, too.
Duncan BC: Most likely to perform in venue where the owner: 1) smokes three joints during your tech rehearsal and 2) owns an entire PACK of mangy dogs to be released after every performance. Most likely to have the worst tech of the tour (phones ringing in the middle of a scene, lights not going down when they’re supposed to, lights going down when they’re NOT supposed to, etc.) and STILL manage to get one of the best reviews of our tour (9 out of 10 “Mercies” in the paper). Most likely to stay on a houseboat. Most likely to have Peace Officers instead of Police Officers tell you to stop busking. It is also outside of this town (while camping) where one is most likely to have a 3-hour brainstorming session and not be able to read ONE SINGLE NOTE from the previous night, due to an unfortunate combination of an abundance of alcohol and an extreme absence of light. (Writing notes in the pitch black is surprisingly unproductive.)
Being tourists in Victoria!
Camping outside of Duncan, BC
Tacoma: Most likely to have your best homecoming (as two UPS grads). Most likely to get a standing-o. Most likely to accidentally leave your company banner and then accidentally find it right before you’re about to leave town.
Spokane: Most likely to watch an entire season of Wallender. Most likely to arrange accommodation in Denver with kindergarten teacher’s twin sister. Most likely to split the town between two performances (a hot-shot Whitworth grad was doing book signing on the same night) and STILL get half the town to our show.
Portland/Milwaukie: Most likely place to busk for $3/day; stand in line for an hour for Voodoo Donuts; wake up at 5:30am for a Thespian meeting; and most likely to go out to Applebee’s for “drinks” after the show with a bunch of high schoolers.
Bryan facilitating discussion in a workshop at the University of Puget Sound
Matthew and Bryan reading to Kathy Johnson's kindergarten class at Saint George's School in Spokane.
Bryan leading a workshop at his old stomping grounds: Milwaukie High
Longmont/Denver: Most likely to meet real Northern Irish people. Most likely to stay with kindergarten teacher’s twin. Most likely – while busking – to be accosted by enormous angry homeless person while Matthew runs away and leaves you to your own devices . . . jerk. (Matthew’s defense: most likely to leave Bryan with scary homeless man while you serenade a teenager on her birthday and make TWICE AS MUCH MONEY in a single song than entire run in Portland (uh, six bucks), so TOTALLY worth it. Plus, that guy was SCARY.)
On the marquee in Longmont, CO!
Laramie: Most likely to have a piece of your car fall off. Coldest place on the mother***ing planet. (Matthew: “Mother****ing stands for mothergifting, right? Where you send gifts to your mother?”) Most likely to reunite with the dramaturg for your play – the wonderful Claire Mason!
Matthew: "I'm going to kill you." Bryan: "Aaaahahahahha. That's funny. You're funny. Uh . . . you're, uh . . . joking, right? Hee hee?" Matthew: "I will cut you."
Salt Lake City: Most likely to see at least 8 couples being married in the same place within half an hour (i.e. the Temple); walk two city blocks and walk six-and-a-half miles. Have a tiny-ass mongrel piss on your luggage (GAAAAAH!). Get – BY FAR – the best theatre review. (Thanks Megan!)
Where all them couples be getting married.
San Francisco: Most likely to see a homeless woman urinate behind your car. Most likely to have a last-minute venue change. Most likely to take a $50 taxi ride that lasted ten minutes. Most likely to be hungover at Alcatraz the day after election when your partner is annoyingly cheerful (wonder which one was the annoyingly cheerful one?). Most likely to eat WAY too much In-n-Out in WAY too short a time. Perform in sketchiest neighborhood ever constructed by humankind. Most likely to race back to your car so it doesn’t get towed in rush hour because SanFran has WEIRD rules about where you can park when. Most likely to spill coffee on your over-priced laptop (cue $800 repair. Stupid Apple). Most likely to receive – via text – the best expletive in history, courtesy of Bryan: *****-***ing ****-**** ****ing ****-***** ******-****.
The Lads loving In-n-Out a little TOO much.
Santa Barbara: Most likely to hang on the beach in the middle of November. Cuddle with a cat with cone on its collar. Alliterate your sentences. Watch an entire season of Downton Abbey in three nights.
Lancaster: Most likely to have an entire town of sand roads (almost). Most visits to the same community college. Most likely to have Thanksgiving with the godfamily! Most board-games played in a week. Most bottles of pear and raspberry Woodchuck cider consumed by humanity.
LA: Most likely to cruise Mulholland drive at ungodly hours of the night to kill time before falling asleep in the car outside of a State Farm Insurance office, waking up in time to see the sunrise off the Santa Monica Pier. Good times.
Some town in the middle of goddam-nowhere Texas (this town might not actually have a name): most likely to a) have the first words I hear in Texas be (after the woman sees me with our set strapped to the roof of our car): Y’all movin’ ’cross the country? b) most likely to thoroughly impress a gaggle of high school girls with a Belfast accent in a Subway.
Middle of goddam nowhere Arizona: most likely place for Matthew to run out of gas the second Bryan leaves him alone and have AAA come rescue him.
OK, that's why she thought we were "movin' 'cross the country."
New Orleans: Most likely place to eat two pounds of crawfish ENTIRELY ON YOUR OWN, BRYAN. Most likely place to sip bourbon and play guitar on the porch in the middle of the night in the middle of December. Most likely to have 11pm performances and accidentally stay out until five in the morning, frequenting closed bars because everyone knows everyone in that town. Most likely to get pulled aside and solicited by a stripper, and most likely to pull off a stellar spin-move to avoid said solicitation (hi-five, Matthew, hi-five).
The lads in New Orleans!
A big ol' boat on the Mississippi.
Lafayette: Most likely to go caroling; most likely to get drive thru daiquiris with Everclear; most likely to go to a theatre company board meeting Christmas party, share accommodation with Mexican high school exchange student, see a f***ing WILD ALLIGATOR after searching an entire swamp and college campus for one. Most likely to be given gun- and cross-shaped cookies. (Thank you Sharon!)
Crashing the Cite des Arts board-members Christmas Party!
Las Vegas: Most likely to pass out after driving 24-hours straight. Most likely to win $15 bucks at your first time in a casino (hi-five, Matthew, hi-five – way to pay for that $10 fedora you got in the New York, New York)! Most likely to get a buffet-pass and eat your entire body weight twice-over in 24-hours. Most likely to hear this exchange when you buy bottom shelf vodka:
Liquor Store Proprietor: “4/5 homeless people choose this vodka.”
Matthew: “What happened to the fifth one?”
Proprietor: “ . . . he’s dead.”
On the strip!
Las Vegas was our last stop before our return to the Northwest (we drove straight through to Molalla, where Bryan’s parents live, in one stretch). I ended up driving 15 of the 18 hours home, because Bryan caught a stomach bug and was quite feverish. I drove straight through the night, which might not always be the smart decision, but for some reason I was still wide awake after all those hours, and in retrospect, I’m very glad we slogged on through, because the pouring rain we drove through all our way through Oregon turned into a blizzard about two hours after we drove through it . . . Looks like someone upstairs was looking out for us.
Bryan and I are both back in Seattle, and in the last 8 months we’ve worked on our own projects a bit. But we are now gearing up to get back in the saddle, and we’ll inform you of our plans in the next update. (I figure this one is long enough as is!)
I just want to say a quick thank you to you all for your incredible support: for coming to see our shows, for donating your time and money, and for keeping us company on the road by way of emails and phone calls. It has been such a ride, and rest assured that this isn’t the last of the lads
We’ll be in touch!
Matthew and Bryan
The lads are back in Seattle! Stay tuned for info on their next show! (photo courtesy of Jesse Baldridge)
Hello everyone, and a Merry Christmas to you all!
Bryan and I are now done with our tour, both safely returned to our respective homes: Bryan in Molalla, OR (just outside of Portland), and me to Spokane, WA. We were back just in time for Christmas, which worked out perfectly. I hope you all had a splendid holiday with much joy and laughter. I’d just like to catch you up on the last leg of our journey.
After dropping Bryan off at the airport for his surprise visit to Dana, I skedaddled off to Flagstaff, AZ, and on the way, I found out the hard way that Herb (our trusty steed of a station wagon) has a faulty gas light (i.e. it doesn’t come on at all). Thinking I had enough juice left in Herb to take me to the next town, I was quite surprised to find that 11 miles from the next town, Herb started sputtering and complaining. Urging him forward by rocking uselessly in the front seat, trying desperately to get a bit more yardage out of him by manipulating the momentum in my favor (for anyone attempting this, let me tell you, it’s bloody useless), I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to pull over and call AAA. Luckily, my parents had gotten me a membership for my birthday, in case such an occurrence, well . . . occurred.
But other than that unlucky episode, my solitary journey across the southwest went uneventfully. I went to the Grand Canyon to break the monotony of the drive, and it was well worth the $25 entry fee. Holy cow – I’d seen plenty of photos of this place before, but there’s just something that the pictures don’t show you about the Grand Canyon – you can’t experience the vast expanse and pure wonder of the canyon through a coffee table book. I remember the feeling of simple insignificance when faced with this monument of history and geology, carved over billions and billions of years. It’s one of those special places that just energizes the soul, and it was a fantastic way to start the last leg of our tour. I’m sorry Bryan couldn’t be there with me, but hey – he was up in Seattle visiting a beautiful lady, so I figured I’d go visit some beautiful landscapes.
The rest of the drive wasn’t nearly as interesting. There’s a whole lotta nuthin’ in New Mexico and west Texas (or New Mexas, as I like to call it). I must say, though, that I was thrilled to find that the first words I heard when I got into Texas confirmed every stereotype I ever had about the place. I had pulled off at a gas station in a tiny town in the middle of NOWHERE, and if you haven’t seen our car in its full regalia, well, let me give you a picture. It’s stuffed to the gills with our props and set, and on top of the car sit our chairs and bar stools. Beverly Hillbillies, much? But I was filling up Herb, and standing right outside the convenience store smoking her cigarette was a woman in her 40s, staring at me. I look over and waved, and the woman smiled and shouted in an accent thicker than dried cement, “Y’all movin’ ’cross the cuntry?” I couldn’t help but laugh, especially considering there was only one of me, so the use of “y’all” struck me as particularly amusing.
I stayed two nights in San Antonio, catching up on some writing and admin, and then I went off to Austin where I met up with an old friend, who actually used to babysit my sister and me. She now has two beautiful kids of her own, and I played Daddy for a few hours while we walked around Austin and went out to dinner. A few hours later, I picked up Bryan from the airport, and we spent the night in Austin with a friend of his from Seattle Children’s Theatre who moved down to Texas about a year ago. We drove from Austin to New Orleans the next day, where we met up with our friend from UPS Mandi Wood, who hosted us the whole week we were there. It was great to reconnect with her and meet her housemates for the first time. Bryan and I got to explore New Orleans, as well as have some quality chill-time with the crew. Some of my favorite moments in New Orleans were when we were all sitting on their porch in the evening, playing guitar and sipping bourbon. It was muggy and warm – warm enough to sit outside on the porch in the middle of the night, in the middle of December. I couldn’t believe it. It blows my mind that in one part of the country it’s 75 degrees and humid in the middle of the night, and in a different part of the SAME COUNTRY, it’s 24 degrees and snowing. Nuts.
New Orleans was a bit different for Bryan and me, in terms of our performances, but also in terms of the city itself. NOLA is unlike any other town we’ve visited on the tour. We both agreed it was the most “foreign” city we’ve been to; it felt quite European, and it also reminded me of some cities I visited in South Africa last year. As Mandi likes to say, it’s the best-run third-world city. It was also a different experience for us because we did a pair of late-night shows, starting at 11pm. Our performances started after an 8pm show that ran for two-and-a-half hours, so we had only about 20 minutes to set up our show each night, which was a bit of a tight squeeze.
Each night we had small audiences – it seems it’s tough to get folks to come to an 11pm show in a town we’ve never been to before, even if that town is known for its late-night crowd. And it’s difficult sometimes to perform such an emotionally charged show – to give it all you’ve got – when there are so few people there to see it. But Bryan and I decided at the beginning that we’re not measuring success but the number of bums in the seats or the amount of money in the bank. We are so privileged to be able to live our dream and to perform our show in amazing cities.
New Orleans is truly the city that never sleeps. The bars don’t close, so after our show was over around 1am, we went out on the town, seeing different places and meeting the locals. We didn’t get back to Mandi’s place until 5 – something that wouldn’t be possible in most of the other cities we’ve visited. But we had such a good time, and we’re so thrilled to be able to say we performed in the Big Easy.
The last stop of our tour was in Lafayette, LA. It’s about two-and-a-half hours west of NOLA, but it’s a completely different part of the world. Much more French- and Cajun-influenced, it has a smaller-town vibe. It’s still quite artsy, though, and it has more CDs produced and on the market per capita than any other town in the country. There’s a huge jazz scene there, as well as rock and Cajun music. Bryan and I got to see some live music after our first performance, and it seems like one could go see a show any night of the week at any of several venues throughout the town. For such a small town, it has a vibrant culture.
Our last two shows were well received. We performed at a place called Cité des Arts, which is a small independent theatre downtown, and we actually went to the Cité des Arts Christmas party the night before we performed. So we kind of had a built-in audience there, and it was fantastic to meet so many warm, welcoming people who are all passionate about the arts. Our host in Lafayette, Maureen Brennan (who is the executive director of Cité) is of Irish decent, and since she’s been back to Ireland 14 times but has never made it to the North, she was particularly interested in our show. She brought in a fair few people to see our last two shows on this tour, and I must say, we went out with a bang. Our last performance had an energy unlike any show we’ve done since maybe University of Puget Sound or Saint George’s. We had so much fun with the script, playing up the funny moments and accentuating the dramatic ones. I knew I was walking the line of overacting, and perhaps I crossed the line a few times, but as it was our last show, I honestly didn’t care. All I wanted was to act the crap out of it, because it’d be the last chance I’d get for a while.
Bryan and I came away from Lafayette with a slightly lighter car (we left some of our set/props in Louisiana – the stuff we didn’t need to take with us), and very light hearts. We felt pleased at how our tour had unfolded, and very grateful to our supportive friends and family for making this happen. We’ll send a proper, reflective email next week, but I wanted to mention here how grateful we are to all of you for your support over the past few months. This honestly would not have been possible without you, and Bryan and I are both so grateful.
It’s about 2600 miles from Lafayette to Portland, and we broke up the trip with a stop in Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. We spent some time walking up and down the Strip, eating WAY too much food at the buffets (we got a free buffet pass, and trust me, we made the most of it in the 24 hours it was good for), and making some money at the blackjack table (Bryan made $65, and I made a modest $15, but I was proud of myself for not losing any money, especially seeing as it was my first time in a casino).
Lake Mead, Hoover Dam . . .
The next day, we started the sprint home. Bryan drove the first three hours, but then caught a stomach bug or food poisoning or something, and the poor chap was down for the count the rest of the way home. I drove the remaining 15 hours to Portland, and while we made a few more pit stops than we normally would have, the journey was otherwise mostly uneventful. We drove straight through, which might have been unadvisable, but at 4:30 in the morning, I was still wide awake, so I decided to keep driving. I’m glad I did, because hours after we’d driven through southern Oregon, the region was in complete whiteout, with all the highways closed and impassable. So I’m glad we made it through the weather, getting to Bryan’s house in Molalla in one piece (though Bryan a little worse for wear).
I drove to Spokane two days later with my sister, and the Jacksons and Sullivans both had the full clan home for the holidays. I can think of no better way to end a five-month jaunt than to be reunited with a family as crazy, loud, and hilarious as mine is. As I said before, we’ll send out one last update next week with a short retrospective, as well as what Bryan and I foresee in this coming year. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season, and thank you again for your undying support!
Bryan here. We arrived in Lancaster, California, which is about an hour north of LA in the Mojave High Desert. It’s a pretty arid place, but really beautiful in its own way. We met up with my godfamily; now I’ve known these people my whole life, grew up with my god brother & sister - Isaac and Adriana - and visited/was visited by my godparents Jan & Doug. They were incredibly nice and were excited to have us stay with them. We arrived at their house and then started our ground game in Lancaster, we visited the Antelope Valley Community College, which is much different from any Community College we’ve ever seen. We were able to pop into classes throughout the week and tell them about our show. We also went around putting up posters and handing out flyers at different local businesses.
We were in Lancaster over Thanksgiving and Matt and I were so glad to have a friendly and almost family like place to spend the holiday. The food was delicious, the company was incredible, and the copious amount of board and card games was to die for. We had a great holiday and then it was time to perform: we met both Wayne Berry, who is the Artistic Director at the Arbor Court Community Theatre, and Michael Berry, who worked on their technical side. (No relation whatsoever) We also had Danny and Hadie as our technical helpers. Our two shows went off without a hitch and we packed up our stuff after closing.
After our first night, my godmother Jan was kind enough to invite people over to her house from the play. People came over, some we knew and some we didn’t, we spoke about Ireland, Theatre, and our play. People come to our play from varying backgrounds. Some know nothing about Northern Ireland; some have a vested interest and a wealth of knowledge. They all seem to take different things from the play.
We said a heartfelt farewell to the godfamily and headed for LA. Now Matt and I didn’t have anywhere to stay in LA, but we wanted to check it out. So we drove down and just started seeing the city. This is the incomplete list of places we saw in no particular order: Mulholland Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, The Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Labrea Tar Pits, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Santa Monica Pier. We also got to get a drink with our friend from college Erik Kimmerer and them breakfast with my friend from High School Maddie Johnson. She and I were in theatre together and her parents saw our play in Oregon. She seems to be doing very well and we had some delicious sausages with her and her boyfriend while Matthew and I picked their brains about life in Los Angeles. All of this we did in just 24 hours, with a 4 hour nap in the car.
After that crazy time we headed for Claremont, California, where my girlfriend’s parents Larry and Debra Raike live. No sooner had we arrived than we started to feel welcome and at home. Matthew was in talkative and comedic form and for a minute I was worried that they might like him more than me. :) They showed us a great time, taking us out to dinner when they didn’t have to, showing us around the area, and listening to Matthew and my synopsis of the play (which was just as long as the actual thing). Plus they have two adorable pugs Sweetpea and Isaboo who licked the hell out of my ears. It is a special girl who lets you go to her parents when she isn’t there, and a special set of parents to let you stay with them on your way through town.
After our time in Claremont, I had a special surprise visit in store for Dana. Matthew dropped me off at the airport in the morning and then set off on his moseying way to meet me in Austin, Texas in 4 days. I’ll let him tell you that story.
Again, sorry it has taken me so long to catch up on our updates. We left off in San Francisco nearly a month ago (holy cow, time flies!). As Bryan said last time, I spilled a minute amount of coffee onto my laptop (the coffee got all over the table, and a few drops landed on my laptop), but somehow, that pesky concoction found it’s way into the most crucial part of the laptop, destroying the logic board. This rendered the computer useless until I got it fixed, which happened only in Santa Barbara. And this is part of the reason why we’re so behind on our admin – there’s quite a backlog to catch up on!
We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco, and stopped in Monterey for the night. We stayed with a friend and former roommate of mine, Sara Myers, who came all the way up from Monterey to see the show in San Fran. We went down Cannery Row and got a drink or two, then took off the next morning and continued down the PCH to Santa Barbara, listening to the Beach Boys much of the way and seeing just exactly what they were singing about in all those songs. It was an amazing drive; there is a reason why I want to live on the coast: there’s just nothing like driving down the coastline and staring out over the ocean that just goes on forever.
One of the first things we did when we got to Santa Barbara was go to the Apple store to get my laptop the medical attention it needed. I got it back in time for our performance later in the week (thank heavens), and while I was extremely happy to be reunited with my computer, my wallet wasn’t too happy with the exchange. After foisting my broken machinery upon the Geniuses at Apple, we settled ourselves at our friend Rachel’s house. We know Rachel from our time at UPS – she was a fellow theatre major, graduating a year ahead of us. She’s now getting her PhD in Theatre Arts at UC Santa Barbara, which is where we performed at the end of the week.
Rachel lives with her boyfriend Daniel and their hilarious cat Crispin. They actually ended up adopting another cat the second day we stayed with them, and he was a spry young whipper-snapper by the name of Ninja. His name suited him, as he was pitch-black, quiet, and frequently displayed incredible feats of agility and physical prowess (mostly in the form of attacking a piece of string, which I’m sure deserved it). We had a good time playing with their feline friends, seeing the sites of Santa Barbara, and taking a little R&R before our shows. We took a day on the beach, and we couldn’t believe how warm it was in the middle of November. I also went running on the beach every morning, which was a wonderful way to start each day.
We had three shows at UCSB, and each went well. We didn’t get great attendance at the shows, which can sometimes make it hard to keep the energy up while performing (the more responsive the crowd, the more energy Bryan and I seem to bring). That can make it difficult when the crowds are small, but we just have to push extra hard to make it work. Bryan and I expect that the smaller numbers were probably due to the fact that we were sharing the weekend with UCSB’s main-stage performance, and I bet the students wanted to go see a show their friend was in, rather than a play done by two random guys from Seattle. Saturday we had a matinee, and actually got quite a few people at that show, including a surprise visit from some good family friends of mine from Spokane, the Brenizes. It was great to see them, and it was awesome that they just happened to be in Santa Barbara that weekend.
Bryan and I were pleased with our run at UCSB; the shows were well performed and well-run (Rachel not only hosted us, but she ran our tech as well). If Rachel hadn’t told me she’d never called a show before (the stage manager calls the cues to a light board operator and sound-board operator, and with our show having 60+ sound cues and almost as many light cues, this is no mean feat), I never would have known. It was a flawless set of performances from that regard.
After Santa Barbara we moseyed on over to Lancaster, CA, where we stayed with Bryan’s godparents, and he’ll fill you in our time there. More admin to catch up on!
Bye for now!
We’ve gotta catch up on these blog posts. So Matthew left off as we were leaving Utah and headed for San Francisco. We made our way west heading through Nevada toward San Francisco. At one point we were passing through some salt flats and we pulled over and walked out on the salt and stood in wonder at the vast flatness. We ran around a bit leaving our foot prints near the Nevada-Utah border and then continued on to San Francisco.
The trip ended up being pretty quick and we arrived at our host’s house in Corte Madera which is just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. We want to say a big thank you to Sylvia and John who let us stay in their house for the week.
The day after we arrived we took a ferry into San Francisco. When we arrived we did our usual putting up posters all over town thing and saw some of the sights. We walked down the Embarcadero and visited Fisherman’s Wharf. We got clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin Bakery. Walked up and saw the curviest road in the world (Lombard Street) and then walked down the hill into the North Beach area of town. Which had quite a few Irish pubs and a lot of great Italian style restaurants and cafés. We also had a surprise visitor that came out with us.
We were in Corte Madera during election day. Matt and I got our ballots in Salt Lake after much worry about whether we would get them in time, and sent them in with a few days to spare. We had plans to go out with our friends David and Aya and watch some election coverage, but before we went out, the presidential election had already been called. So instead of watching the election, we drank and talked about possible new laws such as politician euthanasia (one term, then kill 'em off), proposed by David.
As the week moved on, we met with the people in charge of our venue. We scheduled a time to meet the artistic director and a few days before we met him, he told us that the venue was in a bit of a state or disarray, that they had been building and that the previous show had taken down all the lights. Not knowing exactly what the situation was, we went to the theatre to see. The place was a mess. There was no light or sound equipment to be seen and they had started building the set for Hedwig the Angry Inch which had not had plywood added yet so there was a great skeleton of a platform covering the whole stage and a huge pile of wood where the audience would have sat. After some discussion, we mutually agreed to use one of their studios which they owned about ¾ of a mile away. It was small, and had junk in it too, but at least it had a clear stage, and a place for the audience to sit.
We loaded our set in and spent the rest of the week seeing the sights and putting up our now corrected posters with the right location. We saw Castro Street and spent a day on Alcatraz. Somewhere in there, Matt spilled coffee on his computer and fried the logic board (sigh) which was quite dire because we run our sound off of Matt’s computer from a program called Qlab. The program is great and makes traveling with our sound design really easy, however, it only runs on a Mac and I have a PC. We weren’t quite sure what to do, but luckily our friend and tech person John Espey came to the rescue with his computer.
On tech day before our performance, John came in, used his personal computer, rewired the lighting and sound after we blew a fuse that refused to reset and was an all around badass. Our two shows went off without a hitch, again this is another city where we didn’t have a huge crowd, but we hope that we have made valuable connections so that next time we come through we’ll be able to continue building an audience and following.
We left San Francisco feeling like we had gotten to see quite a bit of an amazing city, and performed here laying the groundwork for future tours or future visits. Not everything went according to plan, but we had audience members that we had no connection to, and that saw us in the paper and online, and saw our posters in pubs and coffee shops. Every new person who see’s our work and we get to meet is a success. I can’t wait to come back to San Francisco.
Until next time,
Matthew here. Sorry this email has been delayed so long. It was written in our first couple days of being in San Francisco (we are now two stops after San Francisco . . .), but its sending has been delayed because I spilled coffee on my laptop and destroyed the motherboard. I’ve only just gotten it back, so now I’m catching up on our email list. So here’s that email, and then Bryan and I will send out the update from our time in San Francisco.
Bryan and I have made it to the City on the Bay, and we have been very lucky with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. San Francisco is an incredible city; as Bryan put it “It’s like Seattle and New York had a baby. A really weird baby.” It’s nice to be back on the coast – Bryan and I were feeling a little landlocked in Colorado and Utah.
Speaking of Utah, we arrived in Park City (Olympics-land, USA), and Bryan and I stayed there two nights, in a rather nice hotel, thanks to a Groupon our friend Alyson found for us. We spent the days walking around, exploring the town and putting up posters. It was really warm in the sun and REALLY cold in the shade. The temperature difference was astounding – I think being up in the mountains made the temperature swing extra-pronounced. When we weren’t postering, Bryan and I hung out at the hotel, doing a bit of writing and creative endeavors, and we got to swim in their indoor/outdoor pool (it was awesome being in the warm water while the outside air was freezing, with several inches of snow on the ground). We sat in the hot tub with the snow falling, then would jump out and make snow angels – freeze our back(side)s off, then jump back in the hot water.
It was great to have a little time of affordable luxury. We went from this nice hotel to couchsurfing – which is more what we’re used to. We stayed with two different sets of folks in the Salt Lake area – the first was a couple in their late 20s. We honestly didn’t see too much of them, because Bryan and I were wandering around SLC, putting up posters, seeing the sites, and helping out around the theatre we performed in. Actually, come to think of it, we didn’t see the folks we stayed with in the second half of the week much, either. . . . We stayed with a student at the University of Utah who’s living with her mom and brother and two exchange students from Saudi Arabia. It was a very full and bustling house, and it was great to stay there, but again, we were out of the house much of the time. I, myself, am a fan of couchsurfing – it’s a great way to meet interesting folks you wouldn’t meet under normal circumstances. We’ll probably catch a few more sofa-waves at various points throughout the tour.
We performed in SLC on a Thursday night, and it was a one-night stand. We didn’t get a huge audience there, but honestly, we weren’t expecting one. We really don’t know anyone in Salt Lake, and we’re slowly but surely building our audience base as we tour. We got about 25 people there – not too shabby considering we were cold-calling our audience members. But we had some awesome people in that audience: one was a theatre blogger who wrote us an excellent review (http://www.atheaterlover.com/?p=711
). She really liked the show, and she seemed to like us, too, which is a bonus.
Our tech wasn’t great in that show – we had a bit of confusion over who was going to be running our lights. The person we thought was going to be operating the light board was unavailable that night, but we only found that out halfway through our tech, so we never actually had a full tech rehearsal with the person who ended up running our lights. This meant we sometimes had very long blackouts in between scenes, with a particularly long blackout before our curtain call. And there was one moment when the phone kept ringing after I’d picked it up, and that got a hearty chuckle from some folks in the crowd. As it should have. It’s like the most classic, clichéd mistake one can make in a theatre production; and yet, somehow, it has happened to us on multiple occasions throughout the tour.
But honestly, the tech mishaps didn’t detract from the show too much. I felt really good about the performance, especially after we’d talked with people in our small but mighty audience. And while we enjoyed our time in the Mountain Region of our country, we’re very happy to be back on the West Coast.
Happy Halloween everyone!
Bryan and I are currently in a library in Salt Lake City, taking some care of some admin – mostly PR (Public Relations, Press Releases, Publicity Rocks). But I’m taking a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to the last week or so.
We left off with our last day in Denver – where we hung out with a Social Movements class at UC Denver. The next day we headed up to Laramie, WY to visit our friend Claire Mason. We stopped at the Coors Brewery on the way out of town, where we took a tour of the facility. They had a fairly hilarious audio guide that took tourists through the various parts of the brewery. Any time the narrator/guide/dude said a name of a beer that Coors brewed, like Coors Lite or Killian’s Irish Red, some creepy female would whisper these names again and they’d echo around some distant chamber within the earpiece of the audio guide. Weird ...
But the tour was cool – I gave Bryan most of my samples at the end – I’m not a huge beer fan, so I did what you’re technically not allowed to do, and just swapped glasses with him when his beer was mostly gone and mine mostly wasn’t. We met a lovely couple in little sample room/lounge area, and they were from Louisville, KY. They had lovely accents, and I believe, if I’m remembering correctly, that their names were Bob and Martha. We chatted with them for a bit, then hit the road.
Herb, our 1995 Honda Accord station wagon, struggled through the hills and wind that the Colorado/Wyoming highways presented, but he got there in the end. That poor car is weighed down with a ridiculous load – props, sets, and personal effects. But Herb valiantly pressed on, and we made it to Laramie, stopping at Claire’s place of employ, seeing as we arrived right in the middle of her shift. Claire works in a kids store – with toys, clothing, and odds and ends – and we had fun doing what we do best: acting half our age. After Claire’s shift had ended, we took her out to dinner at a pub that served Phad Thai fries. Yes. French fries, except all Phad Thai’d. It was incredible.
We spent the next few days with Claire catching up on our finances, and our books our mostly balanced, believe it or not. (Come April 15th, we might be singing a different tune, though . . .) We also had some downtime, going up into the mountains, watching many Youtube videos, as well as both seasons of the new BBC miniseries “Sherlock,” and getting thoroughly angry at the cliffhanger after the second season. (I blame Claire for getting us hooked when the third season won’t come out until NEXT FALL. Ugh.)
We also got our first snow of the tour in Laramie. On the day before we left town, it started snowing hard, and there were several inches the next morning. There is something so peaceful and still about a new snowfall, even if it is in “The Windy City,” as Bryan likes to call Laramie (I kept trying to tell him that it’s Chicago that is known for that moniker, but he wouldn’t have it).
The snow did mean, however, that we had a bit of trouble getting out of town on Thursday. There was a 15-truck accident along I-80, and we couldn’t get out of Laramie for over 2 hours. Once the traffic started moving, we realized that there was an ominous scraping sound coming from the bottom of our trusty steed, Herb. So we pulled over, and Bryan braved the snowy pavement to investigate. Apparently, a bracket holding the exhaust had worked its way loose after all the scraping against the built-up snow on the roads. So, like the savvy DYI actor-types that we are, we decided to yank off the piece of offending metal and pray Herb didn’t explode on our drive to Park City, UT.
We are glad to report that he performed admirably.
We are now in Salt Lake City, and we have our Utah debut tomorrow night at the Historic Murray Theatre at 7:30pm. (If you have any friends in the area, please let them know! We’re trying to get as many bums in seats as possible, so please spread the word!)
We’ll send an update next week about our time in Park City and Salt Lake City. Keep well!
Bryan here. We’ve left the western coast for a while. Don’t worry though, we’ll be back in a jiffy. Matthew and I drove from Portland to Salt Lake City in one day. That is a long drive, but we finished listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and saw some gorgeous views. We drove through some wide open plains and some beautiful rock formations. We arrived just outside of Salt Lake City by about 2am and crashed in a hotel.
We only slept about 4 hours, and then we were up and headed into the city. While we drove the day before, we had arranged for our posters to be printed in Salt Lake and ready for us. We got there right when the print shop opened and claimed our posters. We explored Salt Lake, putting up posters all morning. We also got to visit our venue The Historic Murray Theatre and meet Mike the Artistic Director. After seeing the venue, we got very excited to perform there, but we couldn’t stay long, and we left Salt Lake City headed for Denver, Colorado.
On our way to Denver, we stopped quickly to see our friend and the Dramaturg for The Celtic Cross, Claire Mason in her hometown of Laramie Wyoming. We got some delicious food at a vegetarian restaurant called Sweet Melissa’s. It was fantastic, but we couldn’t stay long, we had to head for Denver and we knew we’d see Claire again on our way back through Wyoming. We continued driving and arrived in Denver around midnight.
We had the privilege of staying in Denver with a really amazing person. Her name is Karen and she is the twin sister of Matthew’s kindergarten teacher. What!? It turns out that Karen was visiting her twin sister in Spokane at the same time we were performing in Spokane. She saw the show and offered us her house for us to stay in while in Denver, and it was amazing. She cooked us food, hung out with us, and even took us to lunch and sightseeing in Vail Colorado.
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"On the Streets of Vail." Didn't Bruce Springsteen do a song about that?
The lads getting their smarts on with Einstein himself.
Once in Colorado, we traveled up to Longmont where our performance venue was. We met Jim at the theatre and he showed us around the Longmont Performing Arts Center. They have a great space and this is the second time we’ve performed somewhere right before their production of The Secret Garden (the first was at Milwaukie High School). Longmont is a great small town about 45 minutes outside of Denver, they have a main street full of different shops. It has remnants of old small town America and when Matt and I first got there, we instantly loved it.
The performance went well; as far as tech goes, we were somewhere in the middle as far as mistakes. We had to say a cue line or two a couple times to get the point across, but in the end the show went off without a hitch. After the show we mingled with our audience and met some Northern Irish Lads. While we were advertising the show, we reached out to Irish Connection, an Irish Magazine in Colorado. They sent one of their writers and he brought some Irish friends from the area. After the show, we met them at a bar across the street.
The bar was called Mike O’Shea’s which seemed like a strange mash up of an American and Irish name. Might as well be called Jeremy O’Flaherty. No matter the name, they had Kilkenny! We have failed to find any bar in the US that sells it until know. Anyway, we chatted with the Northern Irish lads (who liked the play by the way) and they gave us some helpful hints. One was that in NI they don’t call it the “fire department” it’s the “fire brigade”. Another was that they don’t use the word “bollicrized” it’s “bollocksed” (pronounced ball-ixed).
Rodger Hara from the Irish Connection (who isn't actually Irish, but Japanese) introduced everyone by what county they were from (e.g. so-and-so from County Sligo), introduced himself, “I’m from county Hiroshima” helped put us in contact with a professor at the University of Colorado Denver. Alas, it was too short notice to work out a performance on campus (a day late and a buck short, right?) but he did have us come and perform a scene or two for his students and lead a discussion with them about how art and theatre can affect social movements.
Talking with the class at UC Denver strengthened our desire to travel around to college campuses, perform, and talk with students. We had such a good discussion about the power theatre has to change culture, social movements, and the way a society thinks. That was our last day in Denver, and we headed up to Laramie the next day to stay with our friend Claire. We're in Salt Lake City now, and we'll send you an update in the next few days on our last week-and-a-bit.
Lastly, Matthew has finally managed to add a donate button to our website. We've had quite a few inquiries on how to donate outside of Kickstarter (since our campaign ended in September), and here's the answer! If you'd like to donate, please do so at http://www.wanderwegproductions.com/donate.html
. On that page, you'll also find a place to purchase t-shirts. If you've pre-ordered a t-shirt, we apologize it's taken us this long to get our act together, but if you click on the link on that page, we'll be sure to get you your shirt asap!
Matthew will be in touch soon with our next update. Stay tuned!
So it looks like most of these posts are going to come out a week or two after we leave a location. I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. We left Spokane and drove all the way to my parents’ house in Molalla, Oregon. Molalla is about 30 minutes from where we performed and about 45 minutes from Downtown Portland. It was great to see my family; my sister Meghan is living at home while she completes an externship at the Portland VA hospital, so she was there (and my parents as well).
Now, don’t get me wrong, Matt is great. However, he is a vegetarian. Now I love a vegetable as much as the next person, but from time to time I crave some good old fashioned meat. Thank god for my mother’s cooking. We had a BBQ the week after our performances and invited the family over, even Matt’s sister who just moved to Portland made the drive out. It was a great way to see family, and to thank some of the people who have really supported Matt and me. We ended the night with a few songs, card games, and a raised glass of Irish Whiskey. Sláinte!
We performed at my old high school, Milwaukie High School in Milwaukie, Oregon. I grew up in Milwaukie and spent about 12 years of my life there. When I graduated from high school my parent moved to Molalla, where most of my mom’s side of the family lives. Coming back to Milwaukie is always really interesting, because it is constantly changing, and when I visit home, sometimes I completely skip over it. There are more shops and cafés and in a lot of ways it has come into its own.
My high school has changed drastically since I was last there: about 2 years after I graduated, they remodeled, and built a new performing arts center. They added a dance studio, a black box theatre, more storage, and a lobby you aren’t embarrassed to walk into. The building is gorgeous, but the sad thing is that with budget cuts and everything there are way fewer drama, art, and dance classes than when I was there. However, my old Thespian Troupe 75 is still going strong, run by energetic students and a passionate teacher, Scott Walker.
We arrived in the area on Tuesday, “teched” on Wednesday and performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It had been about 2 weeks since we’d performed the show last, so our first night wasn’t our best, but by the second night we’d caught our stride. Every night we had great audiences, and our technical help was outstanding. MHS senior Jake Sapp led the charge with help from Haley and Ruby. Our tech went as smooth as professional venues, and in some cases even smoother. The rest of Troupe 75 was also there to help us out when loading in and out.
On the day of our Friday performance, Matt and I arrived at MHS at 7:00AM for the Troupe 75 thespian meeting. Luckily we got there on time, because when I was in high school I don’t think I was ever on time. After they took care of some thespian business they opened the floor to us for some Q and A. There were some really insightful questions, but we could tell that a few weren’t quite awake yet. I know we weren’t! After the meeting, Matt and I got breakfast and returned to take over the one Drama Class that’s left after budget cuts. There were 50 kids in the class and we got to go down onto the big stage, and since the next school play is The Secret Garden, we worked on dialects, specifically the English Dialect. I let Matt take the dialect instruction; because he has a gift for that sort of thing, then about halfway through I got to have them put their dialect to the test with improv games and a few other exercises. You can watch some video of it here (first half is at St. Georges, second half is at MHS):
The week after our performance we got to explore Portland, and I got to show Matt around my old stomping grounds. We went to Voodoo Donuts, busked, went to Powell’s Books, tried to raft unsuccessfully, saw friends and had a great time.
Overall, the trip was a huge success. We got to work with some amazing students, perform our show for full houses and I got to have some time with family and friends. Up until this point in our tour it has felt sort of like we’re on home turf. Tacoma, Seattle, Spokane, Molalla. All of these places feel like home turf for us, but now, for the next 2 ½ months or so, we’ll be in a no man’s land of sorts. It won’t be our home turf anymore, I’m excited to see people we haven’t seen in a while, and meet new friends.
Thank you all so much for all your support. Be sure to share Wanderweg Productions with your friends. Take a peek at our tour schedule and tell everyone you know in each city we visit to come see the play. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to make this happen.
I want to leave you with a favorite moment from our time in Portland:
Here is how it went during a performance:
(Thomas and Jacob are having a playful argument)
Jacob: What does superstition get ye? . . . Look at me, I’ve never got a rash on me arse from not wiping a chair.
Thomas: Then you’ve never come across a bad luck chair.
Jacob: A bad luck chair! You’re fockin’ me right?
Thomas: I’m fockin’ your sister but you didn’t hear it from me.
High Multiple Schoolers: Ohhhhhhhhhh. (as in “Oh no he didn’t”)
Single High Schooler: Snap.
PS - you can check out a video update of our time in Portland here:
And for more videos on our travels, you can visit our youtube channel, www.youtube.com/wanderwegproductions.
Matthew here. Sorry this update is coming out a week later than expect – Bryan and I have been keeping busy! I’ll talk about the Spokane part of the tour, and Bryan will hit you with an update on our Oregonian section.
So, we’re all done with Spokane, and holy cow . . . what an amazing time. It was a bit of a homecoming for me – I spent the first 18 years of my life in Spokane, and 13 of those years were at St. George’s School. Bryan and I spent much of our week in Spokane at SGS, doing workshops with the middle- and upper-school students, and (as I mentioned briefly in the last update) going down to the lower school to read to Kathy Johnson’s kindergarten class.
We did two workshops a-piece for the 7th, 8th, and high school drama classes, all focused on improvisation. We focused on the basics – CROW. This is not an emphatic affirmation of the ridiculously annoying creature that woke me up at ungodly hours during my days at the University of Puget Sound, but rather, an acronym that is one of the most useful tools in improv:
If you have strong characters, you have a compelling scene. Characters are the driving force any scene – improvised or scripted. A clear relationship is the cement that holds the scene together. If these characters have a clear objective, then we have a driving force behind the scene; the objective moves the scene, makes it interesting. And finally, the where is the scaffolding for the scene; we have a clear sense of where we are, and the audience can get oriented around the invisible set and props the performers establish through pantomime. CROW is a key building block of improvisation, and Bryan and I were excited to be laying the foundation for many-an-excellent scene in the SGS drama classes.
Jean Hardie – the drama teacher at Saint George’s – helped us out so much: Jean set up and ran our lights for the show, and an SGS student (Kyler) ran our sound. We had an almost flawless tech, and considering how little time they had to set up, this was especially awesome.
It was wonderful to be performing on the stage that holds so many good memories for me. Playing an earnest foreman of the jury in Twelve Angry Men, a crazy Russian ballet teacher in You Can’t Take it With You, a crooning rock star in Bye Bye Birdie, and a hotheaded Irishman who challenges everything that moves to a duel in The Rivals. All on that stage. And it was so fantastic to be coming back, bringing my own show to Saint George’s; introducing a new character to a familiar stage. I certainly hope this is not the last time this happens!
It was also a somewhat refreshing week, staying with my parents and sister. Bryan got a little taste of how insane the Jacksons can be when all four of them are in the same room for an extended period of time. But it was a testament to Bryan’s insanity to see how well he fit in.
We are now in Molalla, OR, visiting Bryan’s family, and I am getting many chances to validate my insanity as well. Bryan will keep you posted on our time in his home state!
Until next time!