Order more business cards, Always have some in pocket, REVIEW your Lines! Find more moments for audience interaction, eye contact/command the show, Open up dialogue at the end of scenes, Pray and go for it when you see an opening,
I’m going to begin by saying this project so far is one of the most intense, harrowing, beautiful experiences of my life. I’ve ridden about 100 miles in the past two days, which is really not much on a bike, but has been pretty intense for me.
I started in Tampa, Florida. I spent the day before that with my friend Ericka, and she took me out to different parts of Tampa to perform. I tried performing on the streets of Ybor City and was ejected from one area as I started by a security guard, so me and Ericka, and her roommate Andi, and my long-time friends Jamin and Elton walked down the street and I started performing on the street corner. That was mildly successful. Then Ericka and Andi and I took the Tampa ferry to Curtis Hickson Park. There was an amphitheater there that was totally vacant and open for use and a park full of people enjoying the day. I knew what I had to do, I had to figure out a way to herd the people from the park to the amphitheater nearby, and that thought terrified me, so I knew I had to do it. With Ericka’s help we went out to the park, I handed people my card, and told them I’d be doing a free One-Man Shakespeare performance in the amphitheater in 5 minutes. A few people did actually show up, so I did an impromptu full show of all seven of my scenes. The people seemed to enjoy it and I even made some money.
The next morning, my stuff all packed up, Ericka made me some breakfast, and saw me off, and I took off on my fully loaded bike (the first time I had ridden it with ANY weight on it was this day) onto Dale Mabry road. It was touch and go at first, but I took to it pretty quickly, and I just started going. Even with about 60lbs of stuff on my bike, the Surly made the ride pretty smooth. Man… even after a nights sleep I’m still foggy, having trouble remembering… Well basically after a few hours I ended up on Suncoast trail, which was a long, long winding trail going north… I road that for a while then I finally came off of it to get some dinner and find a place to sleep, and I ended up in a town called Shady Hills. I rode for a bit more, finally found a cafe where I could get something to eat, had a huge meal, and about 6pm set out to find a place to sleep.
I tried to go knock on the door of a Baptist church I passed, but they were already locked up… so I tried to stealth camp out in the back. Eventually after about 30 min of setting up my camp a police officer who’d been called by one of the residents nearby asked me to move on and watched as I repacked my entire camp and rode on… I stopped at another house about half a mile away, knocked on the door, no answer… someone was home, but they didn’t answer, I tried one or two more houses. Finally I knocked on Joe’s door, a 30 something guy with a family. I explained to him what I was doing and asked if I could camp on his property. He said it’d be fine with him, but I had to hide by the bushes so I’d be out of sight of his dog, and the dog next door, so that they wouldn’t bark all night because Joe was about to go to sleep to wake up for work. Well…
Because of the ant piles on the ground, and because I was scared of the spiders lurking in the bushes, after some toiling and fiddling in the dark with my 60lbs of bags and my bike, and getting more and more anxious because the dogs were already starting to bark I finally just laid my bike down in front of the bushes, covered it with one of my two huge tarps, and laid the other one down to set my camp up on (They’re a bit heavy, and over-sized, but those tarps came in reeeallll handy). I finally set up camp and slid into my sleeping bag inside of the tarp… that’s when the terror started.
The dogs could smell me I guess and just kept barking and howling all night, as well as all the other dogs in the neighborhood… besides that, I didn’t know if Joe had alerted his next door neighbors if I would be sleeping on the property, so I was always scared they’d discover me, plus I was paranoid that some curious passer by would become curious about what exactly was hiding under those brown tarps (though they would have been hard to see from the road at night), plus the constant sound of passing traffic, and other misc. night sounds made me a nervous wreck. PLUS dew was beginning to form inside the tarp and I was getting a little wet. PLUS worried friends and family were calling and texting all night (well their fears were justified…) All of that added up made it so that in about 5-6 of lying in my sleeping bag I hadn’t really slept at all. So around 4 am, I decided the only option left was just to pack up and keep going….
A wonderful couple, Chris and Renee Smith invited me to perform for their youth theater ensemble. I ran late because my friend Bmac’s dad installed a sweet smart phone charger gadget on my bike today, so now I can charge as I ride. So pretth much the second I got there I had to launch into my shakespeare show for a group of about 60 children btw 5 and 12 yrs of age and a few adults… Again I thought I was losing them, but they were a good audience. We had a really interesting q&a afterwards and REGRET not getting any footage of anything. IDIOT!
Anyway, afterward Renee and Chris were nice enough to treat me to a home cooked meal at their wonderful home, and Chris took me to see a community theater show he built a terrific set for. It was great fun.
All in all it was a good day, a day that really makes me look forward to launching. The kids had such great questions like “how do you do you remember all those lines?” and “how does it feel when you come off stage and people applaud for you?” Oh, they were so sweet it’s killing me.
Man. This is it. God is good.
So, I was going to leave Wednesday, but a woman named Renee saw my show at the high school and hired me for $100 bucks to do a show at an elementary school. It seems like the kids might get something out of it, and I can’t pass up $100 bucks, and my friend Jason was going to do a recording session on Saturday, which I figure might be a fun thing to do before I take off, so I’m going to do that the night before I leave… Besides I think it’ll be cooler to be able to leave from Tampa and not actually have to ride through Port Charlotte and North Port again. So as of today I’m about a week off from the real kick off, on the 29th. I’m leaving about a week later than I wanted to, but I think it’s for the best.
So far I’ve done two official shows. I did one at Muse Arts Warehouse in Savannah, right near SCAD, where I went to school, and had some former professors and lots of old friends come see it. I think that performance was a personal best for me in terms of the entire show, maybe about 50 people showed up and the audience was very gracious. I got to meet a lot of people, see a lot of welcome old faces, we did a Q&A at the end and I got to talk a bit about the project and what it means to me, and my artistic life… got to listen to myself talk for a bit, and we all know that’s what we artists reaalllyyy love. Also, a professor I never had, but a really nice fella named David Storck invited me to speak at some of his acting classes at SCAD. It was a great time for me to see these kids who are a few years younger, and blow some more of my hot air at them, tell them about my experiences the last few years, and answer some of the questions I badgered them into asking me so I could hear myself talk more. So, Savannah was a fantastic time.
Did another show here in Port Charlotte at my old high school, and again about 50 people, students (mostly the drama kids, but some others too), a few of my good friends, and/or friends parents who were in town, and a lot of my family showed up to support me. It was awesome. Things felt a little more tenuous at this show, and I felt like I really had to work to keep this crowds attentions, which was good for the performance, and they seemed to respond really well at the end. We did another Q&A here and I was really pleased that many of the people at this show seemed really interested and had some really good questions. One sweet young girl told me she’s hoping to go to SCAD for Performance. If she ever reads this I wish her well.
Now I’m just kind of biding my time… going to commit to only rehearsing by doing street performances from now on. Which is TERRIFYING, but it’s go time. There’s more I want to write I guess, but my brain is getting fuzzy, so I’ll just implore you all again, please donate to me, via my Amazon account because I still need quite a few more supplies to really make this thing work for me on the road. Right now I’m not fully prepared to really be able to take care of myself, and my bike, and eat well enough to keep my strength up (I’m still missing a few supplies, like a pannier, and possibly a camp stove… ). I’m trusting God to provide these things, because i need them and don’t really know where they are going to come from.. so I’m just going to ask you all to donate, even if it’s $5 to the trip. If you already have, PLEASE know I am deeply appreciative of your donation.. I just want to make sure I can face this challenge squarely, not under-prepared. I don’t want to disappoint so many people who’ve put their faith in me. Anyway, click here to find out how to donate.
Thanks to everyone who is following this blog. I really appreciate you all, and I am doing my best to try to do you all proud, and really spread this Shakespeare with all the enthusiasm, joi-de-vivre, and ferocity I can muster. More soon. Love ya.