diary

The Fall 2001

BETHLEHEM PA September 30, 2001

I can't quite believe that it's nearly three weeks since the attack on the WTC. The images are so fresh as there has been a constant stream on the US networks. But three weeks it is, in which time we have had to force ourselves into getting on two plays and say goodbye to another. Much Ado has transferred to the Manhattan Ensemble Theater which is uncomfortably close to Ground Zero. Nate and I aren't in the show of course, but we had a rehearsal there. It put Bleeker St to shame. Everything was shining and new. Wooden sprung floors, white washed walls. A beautiful auditorium with 150 seats; a rehearsal room in the basement. Everything sparkling and looking like new. We wandered around as if we had arrived in the land of OZ. Outside the air was full of the smoke and dust.

Lori came over as she was given compassionate leave by Mama Mia and I took her down to the barriers. The smoke was still rising eerily lit by the arc lights… we ate at one of the local restaurants… the businesses down there of course have all been suffering. We were seated next to some Red Cross workers. One of them choked on something and had trouble breathing. 911 were called and a big fire truck pulled up within five minutes… the firefighters and police are the new heroes over here. The firefighters especially took devastating losses in the attack. Everyone has been traumatized by this event, but when it's on your own doorstep it has a more powerful effect I think. The company struggled through the last shows in Bleeker St as if in a dream. The mayor had asked us to go on and it seemed the best thing to do in the circumstances, but we were incredibly sensitive to anything that might relate in any way to the disaster. The bomb which is seen at the beginning of the show was cut… and we winced when we had to pretend to be buzzed by media helicopters… and Beatrice's line when she cries "Kill Claudio" - usually greeted with huge laughter was received in silence. It was a relief therefore to let Much Ado go and concentrate on Prospero and the Iliad. I had been working ridiculously hard over the last six weeks - rehearsing and performing. The disruptions in the rehearsals, the transfer to another theatre and then the disaster meant that the Tempest hadn't really got the rehearsal it should have had; I also had to keep going through it every day just to keep Prospero in my head as there were some weeks when we may only touch it for a couple of days while we worked on the Iliad. However the work was something of a comfort as it got us away from the television and media coverage. Security was very tight of course at the Lincoln Center because it's a landmark, and there was just downright paranoia and panic in the first week after the 11th. Bomb scares were common as were reports of trucks being stolen in a specific plan to infect the NY water supply… or something like that! The city was and is in great pain and is frankly in a state of deep trauma. Patriotism flooded on to the streets. People started wearing flags - on sweaters, trousers, on their heads… but at the moment there is no joy in the faces… everyone realizes that a shift is happening and that life is never going to be quite the same again.

And so back to the Tempest… I'm writing this in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the smell… or rather lack of it… The air was fresh. The air in New York was stifling and filled with smog. But here you can breathe.

We managed to tech the first half on our first day, but when we did our first public show to a bunch of high school kids at ten o'clock in the morning we had to do the second act blind… sound and lights all wondering what was going to happen next. It went surprisingly well In fact a lot less changes were made to the shape of the piece than I thought… unlike Much Ado… and so I was able to concentrate more or less on Prospero himself. We tech'd the rest of Act 2 that day and yesterday came in to do a dress rehearsal before our opening night. The dress went well except for a slight difference of opinion and a little confusion. But eventually light was shed on the confusion and we could prepare for the small matter of an opening night.

We had a good crowd of 600 people, and the show went pretty well as far as I could judge. I had a slight scary moment in the very long exposition scene when I thought I had jumped some dialogue… I hadn't, but it made my energy slightly manic for the rest of the act… which actually wasn't a bad thing. Everything went well until the curtain call… we were supposed to take three bows, going off and on after each one and on the last bow we were to clap the audience. Unfortunately one or two of the company clapped after the first one… this our lighting man took as the cue to bring up the house lights… which meant when we came out for the second bow, the audience was lit and we were in darkness. Peter not impressed.

17th October Philadelphia

Back in Philly… well not quite. We seem to have landed in a car park on the outskirts of the city and since we have a 10'oclock show tomorrow, I think I'm going to stay in and catch up with correspondence and emails. Will probably venture out later to find a Philly Cheese steak. We have now just about settled down in the tour. Peter and Robert have left us alone more or less for a week or so, and so we have been able to go out and discover the plays without discrimination. The Wrath of Achilles is a good contrast to the Tempest. It is books 16 - 19 of The Iliad and is about 1 hour 15mins. It's also very much an ensemble piece. It carries on from the production Aquila mounted before and is once again set in WWll. All very apposite for these turbulent times. I play the only man who isn't carrying full battle-kit as I'm supposed to be representing fate and death… I think! Lindsay Rae is playing the girl and is supposed to represent innocence… I was most put out when someone said they thought I was supposed to be her father. Achilles looks very impressive with Peter's trademark side-lighting. He never uses the front lights… good for the movement… a nightmare to act in!! Nate Flowers left us for a little while to marry the beautiful Missy. I have never seen a man so happy as he was. He certainly didn't know what planet he was on in the build-up to the big day. The plays were the last thing on his mind. And when he came back with Missy, they radiated happiness. It was a beautiful and moving sight to see.

The Tempest is now settling down and has been received very well. I don't know if what I'm doing is complete crap or not… but I know he is a difficult man to get right… finding the balance between his bad temperedness and his heart is hard work.

Lori came over to join me in Burlington Vermont. It is now confirmed that she is coming to the States to join the national tour of Mama Mia. So it looks like I might be here for a little while longer. I am very pleased for her. I'm sure it's the start of something really good for her. She has to join the company in Minneapolis through December and then on to Detroit through January -two of the coldest places in the States. I think the time is right for her to come back. She's been in Europe for over 10 years.

Vermont in the fall is very special. The foliage… the foliage… all-afire with orange, gold and red. On our way up in the van, Nate Terracio narrowly avoided a bad accident as the traffic stopped dead in front of us. Someone had dropped something into the fast lane and a police car was busy trying to retrieve it. Nate slammed on the brakes and we veered across to the middle lane narrowly missing the car in front - with the lorry behind us narrowly missing us. We instantly decided it was a good time for a pee break. Then later in the journey, coming down one of the mountains, the left rear tire blew out. It only took half an hour for 8 testosterone-fuelled actors to work out how to put on the spare. I was quite nervous for the Sunday three o'clock show in Burlington. Lori was seeing it for the first time and it had been over a week since I had last performed it. The day was a beautiful October fall day and I had expected to see a couple of hundred people out front, so I was a little shocked to see the theater was full and over 1000 people had turned up… but it all seemed to go down very well and we received a standing ovation at the end.

After the 10 o'clock show the next day, Lori and I hired a car and drove back through Vermont catching the ferry across lake Champion. I had expected a bustling town surrounding it, but the most gorgeous scenery out in the middle of nowhere surrounded it. Three other cars joined us on the ferry over and the beautiful landscape continued for the next 5 hours as we made out way down through Vermont and NY State. It gave me some idea of just how vast the wilderness is over here. It was a bit of a shock to come back to New Jersey. I did some driving, as well, which was fun. I'm going to have pass my test over here because outside of New York it seems you can't get anywhere without a car. So as the anthrax scares and paranoia continues it is a relief to be heading down south and towards some of the smaller cities.

October 24th Raleigh NC

Miss England a lot at the moment, but I think this is because I now realize that I am going to be here for a little while. I am hoping that after the Spring tour that they'll bring The Tempest into New York for the Summer. Then when that's finished I can go and join Lori in San Francisco and LA and launch my film career. Wish I could do all this in the UK, but apparently it's meant to be here first... and even though it's scary, I am reassured by an overwhelming feeling that, for some reason, I'm supposed to be here. I don't know if any place in the US is anthrax free or at least free of the fear of Anthrax. I am enjoying three days off in Raleigh, North Carolina.

We are now in the South and everyone seems to have come straight out of a Tennessee Williams' play. The weather is absolutely gorgeous... 80 degrees, bright sunshine and no humidity. Played a beautiful course yesterday with my fellow English actor, Mark. It was very daunting... like Augusta... with trees everywhere and lots of water. We were teamed up with two good 'ol boys - Reece and Bob.. retired southern gentleman who seemed very amused by their English partners attempts at playing their course. We luckily managed to play a few good shots on the way.

The plays are getting easier, but we still have gaps of days between them because of the scheduling. I feel very secure with The Tempest... and feel I'm just beginning to make some headway. It's such a gift to be given one of these great parts... I always feel the spirits of all the other actors who have attempted Prospero, whispering in my ear, urging me on. The audiences are appreciative, but may be not the most knowledgeable. The standard of theatre they usually get isn't particularly high, so we do regularly receive some standing ovations. I have softened the our revels speech... and now no longer have a fit...!! All of us are getting on, although I am shocked sometimes when I realize that I'm thirteen years older than the next eldest and on average 18 years older than the rest of them. The best thing is not having to share a room. I have the last leading actor to thank for this. I hugely enjoy being on my own and love the space and the comfort. I have grown a beard again. I was rather alarmed to see a lot more grey in it this time as well as rather perversely some copper coloring!! ... the same as my brother, Robin's... strange!!

Very interesting to be around these American campuses. It just takes me back to WAOVW all over again... you can see why it would drive Martha and George to drink. I have taken one Shakespeare masterclass which was okay. I started out with an enormous hangover which didn't help. Luckily there are lots of keen young actors in our merry troupe who jump at teaching... we do three: General theatre, Physical theatre and Shakespeare... so I shouldn't have to go through too much agony unless it's a Shakespeare class; then I'll be called upon again. My daughter Sam is on a drama course at Lewisham College where I stood in to do some teaching and to which it was suggested by a friend of mine that she should audition. I will be forever grateful. My daughter is now an actress... at least has declared that is what she is going to do. I had an unreal telephone conversation with her about character study on the phone. "I was in the hotseat dad and I just lost myself in the character!!" She loves the course at Lewisham. They went to the Young Vic and saw something and then had a workshop with the company. Apparently she's reverted back to being a 16 year old... wearing little make-up and letting her natural hair color shine through again. "Two boys said they fancied me and I told them I couldn't possibly get involved with someone I worked with!" This she told me with a slight edge in the voice as if to say that her father should have heeded this sound maxim! Pause for heavy sigh.... And as Prospero says... so, so, so.

As a group we all went to see From Hell with Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane and Ian Holm. Hadn't been to the cinema for a while and we really enjoyed it. I thought Johnny Depp's cockney accent was excellent. Everyone highly amused when in one scene he cries: "Out of my way, you cunts!" As it reminded us of our own much quoted producer. Enjoying reading Lord of the Rings again... before the film comes out and ruins it for good.... It seems very strange not be at Leicester this year. I've been going there every year for seven years. And I miss it!!!

October 27th Alabama

We had a great Tempest in Raleigh. It was an interesting space… not as vast as a lot of them… it had two vomitoriums and the stage was surrounded on three sides. We decided to use the voms straight away for some entrances, and it just seemed to give an extra fizz to the show… especially for my first entrance which I'm still unhappy with; usually I just stand upstage center and wait for Miranda to finish her speech… but it just feels wrong. Anyway we were still overcome when at the end of the play the audience as one sprang to their feet. An hour before the show I had to give a reshow talk to 100 elementary teachers. I was nervous to say the least, so I took David Delgrosso along with me who is perhaps the most articulate of the company, and prepared to leave at a moment's notice on the pretext of having the show to do and needing the time to prepare. However I found myself chatting away quite happily for at least 20 mins before I handed over to David who by this time was chomping at the bit. I'm doing another one on Monday and I think it's probably good for me to do them as I'm not the most outgoing of people. I have now made my plans for December. I will fly back to England at the end of November and have a mad two weeks catching up with family and friends, and then will fly back to the States and straight up to Minneapolis to spend the run-up to Xmas with Lori. We'll fly back to Jersey for Xmas itself and then my little bro Russ is coming over for 10 days and Lori flies off to Detroit. It's strange to think that I probably will be away from England until June or July of next year after this.

We have had two weeks of unbroken sunshine. I can't tell you what a difference that makes to my inner self. It has started to turn a little colder and they've had snow in the northern states. But for us I the South, it is very pleasant indeed. The tour goes slightly wacky at this point as far as the traveling goes, as we travel down the 700 miles to New Orleans and then travel the same amount up again to South Carolina before heading down once more to the Florida Keys. Looking forward to New Orleans. I'm writing this in the van that has its own time and world. It becomes slightly unreal as when yesterday you have a nine-hour drive. We spend the time reading, listening to music, chatting and meditating… and tapping away on our laptops. Just passed my first cotton field of the South!

New Orleans 28th October

It is a Sunday morning, bright and clear with a chilly breeze blowing, but the temperature is still up near the high sixties and, unusually for this part of the world, there is no humidity. I am sitting out on the first floor terrace of the St Vincents Guest House overlooking its inner courtyard on Magazine Street; about a 25-minute walk away from the French Quarter. It is a huge and ramshackle old building that was built as an orphanage in 1861. Although the facilities are well below what we're used to, it is a relief to be inside a building of character and away from the endless flow of Holiday and Hampton Inns. The building was founded by the Daughters of Charity order of nuns, however much of the funding was provided by Margaret Haughery. She was an illiterate Irish immigrant to New Orleans, an orphan herself, who lost her husband and baby to Yellow Fever here. This seems to have galvanized her into dedicating the rest of her life for compassionate philanthropic works that she funded through her very successful baking business. In the 20th century, it was run by the Daughters of Charity as a refuge for unwed mothers. However in 1901, the city discovered that mosquitoes were the cause of the summer epidemics of Yellow Fever and malaria and they paved all the roads and generally tried to eradicate all the puddles of water in which the mosquitoes bred, which meant that there was then not enough orphans for St Vincents. It apparently continued to serve as a refuge for unwed mothers and their children until the late sixties and the social revolution which rendered such an establishment obsolete. It then remained empty for a couple of decades until it was resurrected as the guest house it is today.

I am recovering from a riotous night spent in the French Quarter and the Halloween Weekend Parade on Bourbon Street. We started the evening at around five o'clock and it was in the small hours when I crawled to bed. This morning I dragged myself across the road to the Café Rue de la Course. A marvelous establishment for a Sunday and hangovers. The cafe was dirty brown inside, with paper peeling away from the walls. Two fans slowly hummed away above my head and eclectic folk music played in the background. The tables all had reading lamps, as the building received no sun in the morning. Ashtrays were on each heavy wooden table, which was refreshing to see in such an anti-smoking country. As I gulped down the coffee, I watched a magnificent mixture of interesting people wander in. Each and every one seemed to be artistic. A very beautiful young English couple - he is wearing a white shirt and jeans and looking like Rupert Everett: she dressed as impoverished but hip actress and looking like a young Helen Mirren. Another couple: he with pink tinted glasses perched on his head and keeping his long hair from flopping into his eyes; she with black veil over her head and huge platform boots. Coffee was massed on the shelves, all in glass jars. Stacks of papers and magazines were lined below the counter. It had a European artistic energy flowing through it and I sipped away at my coffee and people watched quite happily for an hour and a half.

I've only performed one Tennessee Williams play and that was at Rada. Vieux Carre is not one of his better efforts, but it still has some beautiful language flowing through it. Our production looked gorgeous and sticks in my memory because the director decided that it would be a good idea for me to appear naked. I was playing the no-good bum that seems to be in every Williams' play and in one scene I was supposed to be attempting a rape at the time. So as soon as I got off the bed naked and faced Sarah Woodward playing the Mrs Wire, the landlady, and the audience, dramatic illusion was instantly shattered. The first time I attempted this was in the tech rehearsal and I still can hear the sound of running feet that belonged to the girls in our term scrambling to the auditorium to get a look. I suppose everyone has an image of New Orleans and so I was a little nervous whether the illusion would be shattered. The first thing you notice is that the quarters are under the shadow of the modern New Orleans; the usual skyscrapers and a huge indoor stadium with an enormous dome that slides out to let in the sun. It also has the dubious distinction of being the homicide capital of the States. However as soon as Mark Pow, Nate and I had dumped our bags we made our way to the St Charles St Streetcar - in vain as it turned out as they seemed to be all coming out of the city. The one car that eventually came our way was packed. So we hopped into a cab that took us into the heart of Vieux Carre, the French Quarter. We dived into the first bar we saw on Bourbon Street and ordered three hurricanes.

The Old Absinthe was the name of the bar. Its walls were covered in thousands of business cards; some yellow with age. A fire was roaring away in the hearth; it being only sixty degrees outside… cold for New Orleans! Immediately we were befriended by a Tennessee Williams' look-alike in his later corpulent years. Chris turned to out to be on vacation and was actually from Orlando. He had startling golden eyes that were flecked with bloodshot streaks. He said that although hurricanes were a great drink, hand grenades were far better and packed more of a punch. He became very excited when we were told him we were actors.

"Hey, you look an actor," he said, pointing at me, "but you two don't. thso you're the lead actor, and you two are thsupporting actorths, yesth."

He had a pronounced lisp.

Mark and Nate laughed politely. " Are you famous? You look famous," he said pointing at me again.

I replied that at the moment I was more infamous than famous, but one day soon… And so the night began… a few bars and hurricanes later, we met up with the rest of our group. Dinner was spent at the Old Gumbo Shop. I'd always wanted to try Gumbo since talking about it so much in Vieux Carre. It tasted exactly as I thought it would. A kind of fishy brown-colored stew. After dinner, we went into the Lafayette Blacksmith's shop… Inside, Johnny, the piano man, was knocking out tunes on a big old grand. For a seventy-something he sang with gusto. Of course he might have been my age and just had too many hurricanes. A few beers later and we were all round the piano singing (glory be) Sweet Caroline, God Bless America and American Pie - to name but a few. When we finally staggered out onto Bourbon Street, leaving Johnny still belting out the old classics to an admiring crowd, the Halloween party was in full swing. The street was packed with people dressed in outlandish costumes - sailors, devils wearing just loincloths and horns on the head, vampires, exotic dancers, Elvis, Fred Flintstone - it was a scene straight out of one of the Pink Panther movies where I always felt the party a little contrived… now I was in the middle of one.

The rest of the night became something of a drunken blur. I do remember being in a gay bar and being dared to put a dollar into a young male dancer's silk scarf that he had wrapped around his middle. He was dancing on the bar and wasn't wearing anything else. I did so and turned back in triumph, just in time to see Giselle leap up onto the bar and crawl along the top of it. Drinks went flying and even the exotic clientele looked startled. She finally managed to place her dollar bill and with a huge grin fell off the bar. Somewhere along the way I acquired two strings of green beads. These are usually given in return for some outrageous act. In Mardis Gras the girls flash their breasts for them. I cannot remember what I did for mine. I shudder to think! Nathan Flowers recounted the following day that he would phone me and hear a voice that sounded like Dudley Moore shouting down the phone. "Nate where are you? Jesus… I'm lost!" "Where are you, Rich?" "God, I dunno… I'm… I'm… I'm on Bourbon Street!" I do remember being turned away from a bar on Bourbon Street because they said I was too drunk. Something of an achievement on a street that is so famous for its debauchery. When I told this to the younger members of the company I was looked on with a mixture of awe and pity. Eventually I somehow managed to pour myself into a cab and get myself back to the hotel. Thank God we had to put our clocks back an hour this weekend.

We woke up with fuzzy heads and to the news that Stanley Lombardo, the translator of the Iliad, was coming to see our show. Groans rang around the company and various hangover remedies were tried in desperation. However the show went really well and I believe Stanley was pleased. The following day we spent a final hour listening to the jazz and the ever-so elegant Jackson Square, having coffee and beignets in the Café du Monde, and looking down on the brown waters of the Mississippi. We are now back in the van on a 10 hour trip up to Georgia. Life has returned to Holiday Inns and Fast Food rest stops. I have time to ponder the stupidity of the Attorney General warning Americans that here may be an attack in the next week. Why they can't just tell the USA to be vigilant and on high alert for the foreseeable future is beyond me. Every time they put out one of these statements hey just shoot themselves in the foot economically. At the moment we are traveling through the swamp lands of Louisiana to the sound of a plaintive Bruce Sprinsteen on the radio. The two seem to go together perfectly. Before us is an endless flat road. Time to lie down and think of a place without war or anger or religion. My heart should become as hard as diamond, as sharp as an icicle; a cold shining jewel unaffected by such things… Hmmmmzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Naples 5th November

"If I were in England now, as once I was…." I would be gearing myself up for Guy Fawkes Night… not one of my favorite nights of the year… because of the fireworks. I don't know where it stems from - perhaps it was a past life - but I have a violent reaction to loud noises or explosions of any kind. I would be useless in a James Bond movie. When I have had to use a gun or be shot on stage, I usually wear earplugs… which is great for the act of firing or being shot, but not so great if I have to speak, as the audience is left puzzled to why this character has suddenly started shouting at them.

Well, down in Florida we have just seen an explosion of a natural force. Hurricane Michelle gathered strength about 400 miles south of the Florida Keys, turned itself into a class 4 Hurricane which is extremely dangerous, and began heading north. We were driving south from South Carolina (memorable for the sign outside the theatre advertising the show as The Tempest and for 991 students who gave us an indication of how the groundlings behaved in Shakespeare's day - Bless 'em) towards Key Largo. We stopped over in Daytona Beach only to hear that evacuation warnings had gone out for the South Florida Keys and that the show was cancelled. This wasn't exactly a tragedy for us, as we had heard that the Key Largo gig wasn't the best of the tour. We immediately headed to the beach where pounding surf was battering the shore, and without much further ado stripped off and dove into the foaming brine. Huge waves, driving rain, nor 20 shark attacks in one year were going to stop this band of brothers from enjoying their chance of fun in the ocean.

The next day we drove to Naples, Florida. It was like being on a wet weekend at Skegness. The weather was frightful, but once again we headed down to the most beautiful of beaches and had a wonderful swim. Pelicans flew above us and the sand, white and clean, stretched for miles. This is a very rich area. A lot of people come down to retire or winter here and it is reflected in the architecture that is a rather gaudy modern version of renaissance Italy, and also in the prices.

Last night we stayed in with wine and beer, ordered pizza and watched Game 7 between the Diamond Backs and the New York Yankees. This has been the most exciting of World Series for many a year, and as a novice to the game, I was completely drawn in. In game 4 and 5, the Yankees made the most miraculous of comebacks and then went down to Arizona where they got hammered. So it went to the seventh game… and to a game full of drama… On the television, they zoom very close on the pitcher's face, and reminds me of the concentration of a snooker player. Each pitcher has their own mannerisms and quirks, and this game's stars were the respective pitchers Schilling and Clemens. A titanic battle. In the end the Diamond Backs came back in the very last innings to grab victory, thereby denying New York a reason to celebrate; which perhaps was the best thing.

The Emmys were on at the same time. My favorite quote of the night was from Ellen DeGeneres of Ellen fame who was hosting the show. "What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?"

Preparing for a preshow talk at the theatre tonight, I realize that next year I will have been a professional actor for 30 years. It sounds like an awfully long time. I count myself very lucky that I'm still here and that I am continuing in the vocation that I love. News from Lori - the packing is done. When I return to our flat for a brief visit, it will seem very bare. I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that I am probably going to be in this country for quite a while, and away from so many friends and family. Thank God for the Internet and e-mail.

Sweet Briar, Virginia, November 14th

We are staying at an Inn on a girl school's campus. The Inn is set in the middle of a wood. From my window I have seen deer and squirrels. Leaves are falling, golden and brown vivid… set against a deep blue autumnal sky. The temperature is gradually falling as we work our way up north towards New York. Today I walked through the woods that surround the school. It is such a relief to be surrounded by such beautiful countryside and away from the usual Holiday Inns set in the middle of a shopping mall next to the highway.

Peter, our producer, came to Columbia. This is where he used to teach and where Aquila began their life in this country. The theatre was huge… 2000 seats, and although it was a Monday we had at least 1000 in the audience. We had hoped that there might be more information forthcoming about the Spring tour, but there were just hints at dates and speculations on New York theatres for both shows.

We all had to go out afterwards and get roaring drunk. Lindsay Rae and some girl friends then dragged us off to a gentlemen's club because they had never been to one. I endured my first lap dance... which was quite pleasant, although I was unsure of the etiquette, so I tried to be cool and murmured encouragement in her ear... although it is difficult to look cool when a young lady is swinging her breasts and bottom in your face!

Washington PA November 16

It is our last day and I have a cold… of course. It seems to happen very time I come to the end of a play. I suppose it's the body winding down when it knows it has a break coming up. Anyway this is my last diary entry. I don't know yet whether I'll be going on the Spring tour, but I think that this travelogue was always meant to be first impressions of my visit here in the States. So to the last entry… It is obvious to me that New York is like an island off America… no other place has that energy, inquisitiveness or drive. To be in the city during the September 11th attacks was a most disturbing experience and probably had more effect on us on the tour than we actually realized. I will never forget that day.

What I like about Americans is their inquisitiveness… or may be that should be New Yorkers because I'm not so sure of some of the more country areas. At the moment a book on the Taliban is in the top five best sellers, and others on Islam and the Koran are high on the list. I have found the people extremely polite, well-mannered, intelligent, compassionate and gracious. It completely turned around some basic assumptions that I had made. The country or what I've seen of it is vast and epic. Some of it is stunningly beautiful. We traveled through the Blue Mountains and the Appalachians yesterday that stretched as far as the eye could see. The colors and the sheer size of the landscape took my breath away. We have also seen how diverse it is - from the mountains and forests of the north, down to the swamps of New Orleans and the white sand beaches of Florida. Overall we will have traveled over 6000 miles in eight weeks.

I am now looking forward to a brief visit home to see friends and family. And then… who knows? I would love to play Prospero in New York, but whatever happens, the opportunity to have lived with that great character has been priceless. I hope my sending these reports hasn't been too tedious. Thanks to everyone for reading them and the kind comments. I look forward to keeping in touch on a more personal level in the future.

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on And our little life is rounded with a sleep."

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