So we're actually in America now, rather than New York. Our rental car is a white Chevvy SUV, with plenty of space for the five us, our bags, our set and props, and a guitar. Getting out of Manhattan was an adventure, mainly because Siri kept changing her mind about where to send us, but it did mean that I have now been to all five boroughs on this trip (and slept in three of them). We drove through part of the Bronx, where there are almost no road markings and plenty of signs for military recruitment. Drove for a while under the elevated train, with shops on either side- again, a cinematic experience from the america of the movies (I'm thinking French Connection especially).
All in all it took us maybe four hours to get to Providence. The trees are all still bare but the countryside is pretty beautiful- as Joel pointed out, large deciduous forests are a bit of a novelty for us. It's strange being in residential areas where the green is all gone and there are no lawns, it feels very stark and foreign.
When we arrived we were shown around the AS220 cultural centre, which is an amazing collection of spaces for artists and creative people through several buildings in the downtown area. We had to do some printing of flyers and programs, so were were sent to a guy called Jacques who fired up the offset printer and did them the old fashioned way. He says the offset printing is coming back, now that people are reacting against digital images and printing. You end up with a work of art rather just a copy. When the machine runs it rattles and clunks and smells like high school art class.
Providence is a beautiful little city with a lot of historic buildings and a canal in the middle. It's one of the oldest cities in the country, and used to be a big manufacturing centre before it fell apart after the war, then from the 70's onwards its come back. Like Wellington, it calls itself the creative capital. Continuing our tour of the ivy league, we checked out the campus at Brown, which is, again, swankier than Vic.
We ended up only doing one performance here, last night, which was well attended and included a whole class of English students who's professor Joel met on the street. I led the performance, and it was nice to have a mix of people in the audience. The space was a black box, which has its benefits and drawbacks I think- its harder to establish the classroom feel at the start under theatrical lights, but easier to build the mood in the final sequence. Really energetic and friendly audience.
Currently we're staying in a beautiful place which we found through air BnB. It's three bedrooms and obviously belongs to an artist- there's a record player and woodburner in our room, and a giant spider in another, and masks and cool stuff all over the place. After two nights in budget motel rooms, and hotels before that, it's a huge relief to be somewhere less sterile and way bigger for the same price! Also nice to cook our own meals, as nice as the service is and as interesting as the conversations we overhear are.
Today some of us are off up the coast to check out Boston, then tomorrow its down to South Kingstown to do an extra performance. Then on down to Philly.