On a nine-month walk from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, the author and a friend read all 37 plays of Shakespeare out loud to each other. Across the Mojave Desert, over the Rocky Mountains, through noisy cities and in driving rain they read and read. It began like this
The most glorious day ever on the March! Early in the morning, as I walk recording on my tape machine, I think I hear familiar words. Can it be? Am I hearing a mirage in the desert? No - I mean yes: it's Shakespeare! I race forward and sure enough eight Marchers are reading "The Tempest" out loud as they walk. A few minutes after I pull alongside, they finish reading. But when they see me jump all over them, they start to read all over again - with me as Prospero! They ask ME to read Prospero - the role actors wait a lifetime to play. Walking across the desert, with a heavy pack on a hot day, I'm Prospero. And side by side with me is a lovely Ariel. We read through the entire play, the SECOND TIME around for all the others. Incredible! Are there people on this March who love Shakespeare TWICE as much as I do? The other marchers, amused and amazed, smile at us. A reporter from The LA Times takes pictures of us. God, I was happy on this March before, but now... now I want to cry for joy. Shakespeare on the Great Peace March!
JUNE 19: Beatrice and I walk twenty miles through a furnace today, the heat of a Nebraska summer. But we work all the way, and in that fire we forge a play. We take Shakespeare's "Dream," condense it wholesale, and relate it entirely to our March. In every scene, with every character, our marchers will see themselves reflected on stage. Every allusion and joke will refer to life on the Great Peace March. How delighted we are with it and with each other! In camp a terrific supper of stew and muffins. And then we rehearse. Even in the chaos of camp, in the heat and exhaustion, every member of our cast shows up! The children on the March are the fairies in our "Midsummer Night's Dream."
JUNE 20:Twenty miles again today, from Lexington to Elm Creek. But at least not in the broiling sun. It's overcast most of the day for it rained a lot last night. We do a lot more work on the play. Beatrice and I very close artistically and romantically.
JUNE 21: Only seventeen miles today, very hot toward the end. Beatrice and I constantly working on the play. Our lunch stop is a park in Kearney, Nebraska, and there we are able to gather our cast together and find time to rehearse. Yes, wonderful! I cry with tears of laughter. It's the summer solstice with a luscious full moon: perfect setting for our play. And oh how the Marchers love it! Screams of laughter. Standing ovations for our actors. Beatrice and Benedict encircled by marchers munificent in their praise. A sense of wonder all around - a marvel, a miracle! Imagine! A Shakespeare play on the Great Peace March!