Winthrop is named after John Winthrop, the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who came over on the Arbella in the second wave of Pilgrims in 1630. He's best known for, during an on board sermon, describing his vision and warning for the new settlement: 'a city on a hill - the eyes of all people are upon us.' This puritan idea of the high moral standards and behaviour required to be God's chosen people has remained at the heart of many American dreams. Boston is, after a couple of false starts, where he eventually settled.
We were up early and across the harbour on the Winthrop Ferry, which whisks commuters across the bay to the downtown Rowes wharf. Boston is postage stamp sized and it's quite easy to get anywhere on its knuckle within half an hour. We decided to start at the beginning and headed for the Common, which was the original farm of William Blaxon, a deserter from the Plymouth Colony, who sold the ground to Winthrop and his men. Since that time the common has been the spiritual heart of the city. Home of executions, picnics, and musters. It's an essential lung, especially on such a hot summer's day.
Today was for the sunbathers. Occasionally a half hearted game of Frisbee would start up, only to collapse under the heat of the afternoon. A few queued for homemade lemonade, others read in the shade of the trees.
The somnambulant calm was only punctuated by sweaty costume interpreters, dressed in the full eighteenth century regalia of the patriots, animating strange and eventful histories to bemused groups of parasol sheltered tourists.
We'd wanted to follow them along freedom trail, to get our historical and geographical bearings, but realised that in the heat a more relaxed approach might be to get on the Beantown Trolley Bus and get a sense of the town from relative comfort. It was a good move. As soon as we boarded the heavens opened and we were hot by torrential rain. The tour was gentle and after taking us through the Back Bay, circled up through Cambridge, back across the Longfellow Bridge, through the West End to deposit us at the aquarium. The weather was still dodgy as so we hopped off and spent an hour watching sea turtles, barracudas and rays spiral around the giant ocean tank.
By early evening jet lag was beginning to set in and so we headed back to catch the last Winthrop ferry of the day Eastward, back towards the sunset and the homemade cookies that Maggie had left out for us.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.