The Atlanta-Baltimore Wormhole

The day I’ve dreaded since the beginning of this tour has finally arrived: I forgot my home address. I was filling out some paperwork for the show and when it came time to write down my zip code I looked in every dark corner of my mind only to find cobwebs and cakecrumbs. This life on the road has finally caught up with me and left me neatly unhinged from reality. I had to google my apartment to figure out the final bit of my address, in time I suppose I might forget all of it at once!

From injurious Wilmington we took flight to Atlanta, looking forward to warm(er) weather and a new theatre. We played the Fox and stayed directly across the street at the charming Georgian Terrace. When we checked into our rooms we were all blissed to find full kitchens (with dishwashers natch) and, tucked behind accordion doors in the bathroom, our own washer and dryer! My excitement at these luxuries paints me as a true homebody, and though we were destined to leave Atlanta at week’s end, I intended to make every use of those machines.

I’m beginning to find routine in my travels, the first task that needs attention upon landing is grocery shopping. In Atlanta we walked to the local Publix and fetched goods for the week. With a full stove and oven at my disposal I aimed for the moon and bought chicken thighs, oxtail, black beans, red wine, herbs, broccoli (to be roasted), collards (to be braised), and eggs for my breakfasts. Back at the hotel I strapped my apron to my waist (yes, I am traveling with my favorite apron) and simmered the chicken thighs in garlic, onions, black beans and chili paste. A home-cooked meal was precisely what my lagging spirit needed, I invited a castmate over for dinner and we refueled.

The Fox theatre in Atlanta is gorgeous, the lobby and house are dressed in a North African theme, tents and geometric patterns, hanging lanterns and a domed ceiling painted deep blue with twinkling stars puncturing its breadth over the audience. The house seats nearly 5,000 and we had hearty crowds each night. Unfortunately, as in Wilmington, we had no backstage space and had to run down a flight of stairs to cross underneath the stage, only to climb another flight on the other side to re-emerge on stage right. It was our most challenging space yet, I was running laps, shedding costumes as quickly as possible, and still barely making it onstage for some scenes. I was not sad to bid adieu to the Fox.

From Atlanta we flew Northeast to Baltimore and were warned upon landing, “Please do not walk to or from the theatre alone.” Baltimore has gained certain cultural cache since The Wire was on the air, and indeed, parts of the city resemble that show too closely. We played the Hippodrome in Baltimore, and were once again granted the luxury of backstage space! After two weeks of insanity underneath the stage, we breathed into the show and felt relaxed and comfortable in our performances again.

Lessons from the road thus far:
Chicken Marsala exists only in hotel restaurants. It has been forgotten, by and large, in modern cuisine, but rest assured, it is being prepared with an indelicate hand across the country in generic dining rooms on the ground floor of nearly every hotel. Do not order it. Simply marvel at its farmed life in captivity. It has absolutely died out in the wild, good luck spotting it on any menu in a large metropolitan city, but these hotel dining rooms act as zoos for forgotten foods. They’re raising old dishes in captivity, awaiting the day when they’re strong enough to be re-introduced into the wild, back to the public. Don’t hold your breath.

We live in a wormhole, touring for 6 months. Every week starts over again, we perform the same show, with the same costumes, with the same people, but in front of a different audience, in a different city, and sleep in a different hotel. Every Publix has the exact same layout. Walk into one in Atlanta to find the bakery on your left, and you’ll find the same bakery on your left in Tampa. It makes one feel insignificant, that we’re traveling outside the confines of the universe and for the next 6 months we’ll leave neither fingerprint or foot trail. For all intents and purposes, we do not exist, we are operating outside the laws of reality.

I’m happy to be a traveling artist, this life is connected in some grand way to the vagabond theatre troupes of earlier centuries. We move from city to city, telling our story, awaiting applause, ending the night at a bar or tavern or pub, reveling in each other’s boisterous company. Locals are excited to meet us, hotels are thrilled with our conspicuous consumption, we are happy to be employed as professional story tellers. This week we settle into the sunny coast of Tampa, FL and then onto New Orleans. The cycle starts again tonight, cheers to my 7-day life.

From the road,