Married to the Stage: ‘Winter is Coming!’ by Natalie McCabe

            “Winter is coming.”

Or, well, it is already here. As I type this, my cell phone keeps vibrating with DC text alerts warning of a “winter storm,” anticipating 2 to 4 inches. I have just returned from visiting my husband’s family in Quebec, where 2 to 4 feet of snow was closer to the norm, with snow drifts several times higher common province-wide. Flu is rampant. And, of course, my articles have been slower – or non-existent – lately.

But I have not been hibernating. Like all theatre people, my husband and I are always working on multiple current and future projects. We took a much-needed break for the Christmas and New Year holidays, visiting with my family in Philadelphia and his in Montreal. During the holidays, I even managed to read three long (non-school-related) books, one of which belonged to the afore-quoted TV series, Game of Thrones.  (I am very pro-House Stark and their “Winter is coming” motto.)Here is what we have been up to since my last November article:

-Submitting lots of PhD applications. This, of course, was my ordeal and not Johnny’s. (Johnny already has his MFA, or Masters of Fine Arts degree, in Acting, which is a terminal degree for acting. My current degree, which I plan to complete this May, is an MA, or Masters of Arts, in “Theatre History and Criticism,” and, thus, not terminal. In other words, I truly need a PhD to teach at the university level; Johnny, however, can teach and has taught university theatre classes with his MFA.)  I ended up submitting 17 (yes, seventeen!) applications to various Theatre, Performance Studies, and English doctoral programs across North America.  Despite what my references joked, I did not apply to them all – just maybe one-third.  Or half. And now the wait begins, with results (hopefully positive) to be determined in upcoming months.

Married to the stage - or school. Natalie at Penn State graduation 2007. Photo courtesy of Donna Melle.
Married to the stage – or school. Natalie at Penn State graduation 2007. Photo courtesy of Donna Melle.

-Performing in shows. This, of course, was Johnny’s domain. The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire does other performances throughout the year in their on-grounds, historic mansion.  In the fall, they perform an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, titled Poe Evermore. Johnny played Lord Byron this past November. In December, they adapt works by Charles Dickens and other Christmas-themed stories for A Dickens of a Christmas. Johnny played Charles Dickens this year. He will be returning to the faire at the end of this month to perform in their Murder Mystery, a fun dinner theatre. (Information for tickets can be found here).

Johnny performing in “A Dickens of a Christmas.” Photo courtesy of Suzanne Mapplebeck..
Johnny performing in ‘A Dickens of a Christmas.’ Photo courtesy of Suzanne Mapplebeck..

-Working on shows. I assisted the dramaturg and literary manager at the Shakespeare Theatre Company with the research for the two shows they will shortly be performing in rep: Coriolanus and an original adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein trilogy. Both shows should be exciting and quite entertaining.  I enjoyed access to the Folger Shakespeare Library for this research, which thrilled my inner nerd.

-Teaching. This was both my and Johnny’s domain. I work as a teaching assistant (TA) for my university’s Department of Media Studies. I love reviewing the students’ projects, which range from photography assignments to final short films. Johnny taught two theatre classes at a branch campus of Penn State this fall, returning to the land of the Nittany Lions.

-Schoolwork – and lots of it.  Such is the life of a graduate student. I finished (survived) one semester and began another.

-Spending time together! A life in theatre has meant spending significant amounts of time apart. However, come the holidays, we spent a whopping 3½ weeks straight together! Someone may have actually believed that we were husband and wife. However, at the end of the month, Johnny will return to the faire for rehearsals, as I mentioned above, while I will remain in DC for school, once more resuming our life, married to the stage.

Johnny and I relaxing at home in a non-winter season. Photo courtesy of Donne Melle.
Johnny and I relaxing at home in a non-winter season. Photo courtesy of Donne Melle.


Read Natalie’s other articles in Married to the Stage.


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