One week later. So much has been packed into the last week that I haven’t had much time to write. But a quick summation might be interesting.
Easton, Pennsylvania...First of all, the local radio station WDIY had interviewed me the previous week and I was so impressed with the couple who presented the drive time programme. They are Kate Scuffle and George Miller. They had previously run a local theatre company and were incredibly knowledgeable and interested. They filled me with a confidence that the play would be well received here. And it turned out to be true.
The 14th of December was the 235th Anniversary of Sancho’s death. We were playing Lafayette College in Easton. We had a special round of applause for Sancho at the end of the performance. Very touching. I also met a wonderful lady who has done some amazing research into Lafayette College’s history. Diane Windham Shaw, Director of Special Collections and College Archivist. A pair of African-American brothers, David and Washington McDonogh, were sent by their owner, in the early 1800s, to the college in order to have them educated and sent as missionaries to Liberia; the African colony that the United States had set up on the West Coast of that continent. One brother, Washington, conformed to his owner’s wishes. David, however, rebelled, and since they had both been freed, decided to become a doctor instead. He is honoured with an abstract sculpture on the college’s campus. Check out their story online.
A couple of coincidences are worth relating from that trip to Easton…
Pam Salling had joined us as Production Assistant. She is a native of Ohio and has worked with Tim Smith on THE APPLE FAMILY PLAYS, European Tour. A brilliant addition to our team of Sanchonettas. She is a pretty great navigator, too, and helped Tim get us from Pittsburgh to Easton. The drive was uneventful, except for the pure Americana of a roadside diner, where Pam, Tim and Anshu had full American Breakfasts. I had scoffed my large breakfast in the hotel before we left so I stuck with my usual rooibos tea…brought my own teabags, naturally…
So far, so normal. Then, as we approached Easton, Pam directed Tim to the Larry Holmes Drive exit. Wow, I thought, "...he was from here?" Larry Holmes was heavyweight champion toward the tail end of Muhammad Ali’s career. But the first coincidence of the day occurred when we realised that the new statue to Mr Holmes was being unveiled that afternoon by the man himself, plus the great man with the extraordinary hair, and world famous boxing promoter, Don King, was there, too! Surreal and unexpected.
For coincidence number two, we had dinner at a restaurant called Maxim’s 22. I asked our friendly, well-informed waiter, Anthony why the restaurant was so called. It turns out that Maxim is the name of Josh Palmer's, the owner’s, son. Their home address is 322. Josh’s father and grandfather were No. 22 in their football team, his mum, ran a triathlon as No. 222. Josh and his wife Liz were both born on the 22nd. But that was only the start of the bizarre coincidences.
I pointed out to the waiter that my birthday is also on the 22nd. Pam then turned to me and said that her birthday was the 22nd, too. And finally, Anshu, sitting on my left said that his birthday was on the 22nd day of the month. Crazy, eh? But wait, that left the Tims, Boyd and Smith, sitting opposite us. Tim Boyd’s birthday was, yes you’ve guessed it, the 29th. Boo. And Mr Smith’s the 7th. Ahh…but wait, says, Tim B, “If you take 7 from 29, what do you get..? 22!!" Even Anthony was freaked out by this time, so we decided never to speak about it again. Spooky.
After the show we travelled to New York, now joined by my co-director, Simon Godwin. Next stop, BAM.