This is my third visit to Dunedin, and on this occasion, having spent several months in Seattle last year, I am struck by the similarity between the two cities. Not only that, but whenever I mention it to a Dunedin local, they agree with me, because they all seem to visit Seattle on a regular basis!
I can’t say exactly why it is, but it’s something to do with the geography of the place, the hills around, the Sound (long and thin in Dunedin, wide in Seattle), the mixture of residential and industrial, the docks at the heart of the city. There’s also something about the easy way of the people, a smile as you pass on the street, helpful bus drivers. Today, waiting for a bus, a lovely woman actually stopped and offered me a lift down the hill.
I’ve had a glorious time here, three weeks in all. The first week I taught The Shakespeare Class, here at the University of Otago. That’s it. One class. BLISS! The rest of the time, I slept, ate Suzanne’s glorious food, drank some fabulous New Zealand wines, read several chapters of The Life of Pi and watched some really crap television, courtesy of Foxtel. I think this qualifies as a holiday.
The second week was spent taking part in the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) National Shakespeare Schools Production week. This involved staying the week at the Otago Boys High School Hostel, sharing a dormitary block with some of the participants, which meant sharing a bathroom with a bunch of 17 and 18 year old young men (some of whom didn’t quite get the concept of privacy, as in shutting the toilet door when using it!).
But what a wonderful week it was. My job was to direct 15 of them in a condensed version of The Winter’s Tale, take a workshop, sit in on all their other activities, and be available to mentor and coach them the rest of the time. So basically, 6 1/2 days totally focussed on Shakespeare. What. A. Blast!!!
As well as glorious young New Zealanders passionate about Shakespeare, there was the ‘mystery tour’ arranged by the totally amazing Dawn Sanders, CEO of SGCNZ (as well as being fund-raiser, secretary, treasurer, tour coordinator, butt-kicker and chief cook and bottle-washer).
Finally, today on my last day, I was invited to do a voice-over for a colleague in the music department at the University of Otago. When the project is ready, I’ll post it for you to hear and enjoy.