What a whirlwind week of touring! We returned from Tacoma last week, energized and ready to continue the dialogue about consent and healthy relationships. Our first show brought us back to Williams College in Williamstown, MA for the second year. We were welcomed by an incredible group of Junior Advisors and the legendary justin adkins, who was again a wonderful host. Our back-to-back performances were very well-received, and it’s very interesting to see how different groups react to the same material – which jokes are funny and how they react to the monologues. Both audiences were spectacular and very involved, and it’s always a great trip out to Williamstown.
From there, we used our day off between shows to treat ourselves to a day off in New York City. We arrived in time to invite ourselves to lunch with Ellen’s wonderful Aunt before making official entrance into the city. After a quick nap, stroll down Broadway, and acquiring some cash for the evening’s events, we were out on the town to meet up with old friends. We got to meet some of Ellen’s friends from undergrad and high school, a friend of Ben and Joe’s from USM, and a handful of Shana’s friends from Taos, NM. Looking for a great spot in NYC? Check out Ducks (that’s our only shameless plug). The night was complete with New York-style pizza and only one parking ticket.
Friday we made our way south to Haverford College in Haverford, PA. Despite the New Jersey Turnpike’s best efforts, we made it to Haverford in time for a facilitation with their Peer Awareness Facilitators, and were (pleasantly) surprised to find out that almost everyone in the group had seen Speak About It on one of our previous visits. It was a pretty incredible feeling to walk into a room of students who knew what the program was about, were excited that we were back, and wanted to participate in a conversation to change their community. This was the third show we’ve done at Haverford, and the feedback from the students was that it was the best so far. We got to spend some time with some friendly and familiar Haverford students, and hit our favorite ice cream shop on the East Coast (well, it was Shana, Nick, Laura, and Emma’s favorite, but I think we converted Ben, Ellen, and Amanda. Joe opted to nap, but we’re pretty sure he would have been hooked, too), Hope’s Cookies and Peace a Pizza. Delish. Our performance Saturday morning was to a packed theater of excited first-years and enthusiastic student-leaders. And a huge thanks to Lilly Lavner for being our unofficial photographer and purveyor of Haverford College swag, among many other titles!
Then, it was off to the airport to return the minivan and head north for a 9pm show at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham (where Ben and Joe were both theater students, way back when). Only a few minor airline delays and we were back in Maine, ready to rock our second show in 12 hours and in two different states. The audience was attentive and engaged as we wrapped our third show at USM since 2010, with big big thanks to Clara Porter. We were all happy to collapse into our own beds on Saturday night, feeling honored and privileged to have sparked dialogues on three separate campuses in four days.
Sunday was a day off, and Shana made sure Ellen had some true Maine lobstah before returning to Boston to continue her graduate school program. She’s pretty sure there’s still lobster bits in her kitchen from all the cracking and flinging, but it was totally worth it.
Monday we hopped into Shana’s car to head to Colby College in Waterville, ME to wrap this leg of the tour. The morning started off well enough.. until Shana’s car (nicknamed “Bruce”) puttered out of gas on the highway, a mere 12 miles short of Waterville. Joe saved the day with his AAA membership and we were only moments late for a facilitation with the Community Advisors at Colby. We had a chance to grab lunch with Jed Wartman (another former Polar Bear.. though it’s never really “former” when you’re a Polar Bear) and some great Colby students, including Jonathon who was the leader of Mules Against Violence. Our performance was off to a great start but was briefly interrupted by a student who required immediate medical attention. We paused the show and she was treated by local EMTs. We hope she’s doing better! We were also really impressed by the respect and responsibility of the students and student-leaders, and the speed with which local medical emergency crews arrived and assessed the situation. Jed said it perfectly when he thanked the students for being active participants in keeping each other safe and calling the appropriate resources – exactly the message of Speak About It. We continued the show for a great audience, and had a chance to take a few pictures with the CA’s afterward. Again, we hope the student is doing well and we are thankful for the students and community-members who acted quickly and safely.
And now, we rest for a bit. Shana’s behind-the-scenes organizing more shows, and the rest of us will return to our other jobs for a few days until we head to Hamilton College on September 16th. Shana will be sorting through footage from the shows and is hoping to put together a quick video from the tour. We also have a ton of photos, all of which are being sorted through right now, so keep checking back for videos, lots of pictures, and maybe posts from the other cast-members. Ellen has been maintaining her personal blog, and she’s got some pretty awesome posts on there. Of course, take a second to check out our Facebook page, which has been updated regularly throughout the tour.