From the novel-in-progress –

You're hired. You're in The Troupe Adores now. You play a part. We tour four times a year, each season a season, in a set of private cars lashed to the end of any passenger train going the right direction. Sixteen plays are performed in eight weeks, with five weeks off between tours.

I call this winter's my Grand Tour of the Continent. I've pin-pointed a string of midwestern towns named after European cities, each a dusty doppelgänger. We'll start in Versailles and stop in Madrid, in Lisbon, Berlin and Milan, in Paris and Lyon, in Geneva and Warsaw, in Sparta, in Stockholm, Cologne, Rome and Odense, in Antwerp and – um – and Vienna.

This will be an exploratory season. Each week, we'll perform one play from our repertoire and then create and perform one new play. That means you'll design and build one new set each week. We're trying to generate some hits, fresh interest. In the way of Darwin, successful new features will replace adequate standards in subsequent seasons. The tallest giraffe eats best; the brightest bird mates most; the fastest gazelle lives.

You'll find the trip will leap from car to car, stop to stop, show to show, like a deck of cards dealt. It may seem all skirt slit, skipping the tedious fabric that wraps the rest of the leg. If you want coverage, brave the vestibules, draw rope bridges across the blanks. Ask, and I'll lend you a pen.