20 May 2005

Halifax school shows

[me with Mr. D. Smith and Mr. B. Khan, teachers at Halifax West High School, yesterday after the fifth performance. Like many a teacher along the Tour, these gentleman gave us a warm welcome]

Two more schools today, Prince Andrew High School and Caledonia Junior High: one show each. Good students, I must say; probably 60 between them. Seven shows in two days! I'm fairly beat, but in good spirits. I think Tour's end and poet's end may coincide.

Seriously, though, they were good shows. Lately I sometimes lose track of what I'm saying, without missing a beat or losing any degree of expression; is this what it's like for Shakespeare actors at one of those ten-year runs of The Taming of the Shrew? What a cushy life!

A couple of notes: halfway through the performance at Prince Andrew today, the PA system (ironically enough) interrupted to make an announcement, and straight away you could see the students rubbing their eyes and coming awake, literally as though they had been dreaming. (I don't usually get to see this, as I bow my head modestly during the applause at the end of shows.) It took a special effort to get them back in the game after that -- it happened just at the death of Wolfe -- but most interestingly I myself was thrown off a bit, not on delivery or memory but on my train of thought: I repeated two key lines without realising it! They were:

But as he spoke, a man rode up : a trusty friend and aide-de-camp
He cried, "They run, my lord! They run! : The French, they flee in headlong rout!"
But red-haired Wolfe just closed his eyes : and with a groan he answered thus
But as he spoke, a man rode up : a trusty friend and aide-de-camp
He cried, "They run, my lord! They run! : The French, they flee in headlong rout!"

You can see that only someone who had been mentally discombobulated could make this kind of error (a sort of aural homoioarcton).

We are looking forward to scoping out the venue for tomorrow's show, St. Paul's Anglican Church in downtown Halifax, before the performance at 7pm. While we're doing that, we shall also visit the site of the first ever performance of The Plains of Abraham, the Halifax docks, where on a bright brisk day in June 2000 I set up shop between two talented Cape Breton fiddler buskers and hoped for an audience. I didn't yet have the big white "Epic Poem" sign featured a few posts ago (I only got it in Sudbury); rather, I had fashioned a very primitive sign out of two brown paper placemats I had stolen from a nearby fish-'n'-chips restaurant. I still have them somewhere.

Tomorrow there should be a piece about me in The Globe and Mail. Needless to say, I will blog it immediately.


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