Monday, June 13, 2011

June 2011 at Ashland, Oregon

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2011

Whether I am gone two days, two weeks or two months, I take the same amount of stuff - what I can fit into a carry-on, usually a backpack. It’s been at least twenty years since I’ve checked luggage. Two incidents of late arrival checked baggage with severe inconveniences made a believer of me.

I was reminded of all this at the Medford Airport when I flew in for two days at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Two were scheduled for the shuttle to Ashland but I had to wait for the other passenger, not only to discover her checked bag was a no show but hang around with the other half dozen passengers to report missing luggage. .

I did feel a bit smug with all my stuff stashed about my shoulders.

Eventually, I got to the Columbia Hotel, where I’ve stayed past years: a reasonably priced hotel on the main street with Victorian motif and shared facilities, close to theatres, park, stores, library and restaurants. I first attended the Festival in the mid-fifties and then, faithfully since the mid-sixties. I’ve traveled from the Bay area by auto, bus, train and plane.

I love Ashland with its small town feel, the incomparable Lithia Park and the State University. When I was doing an agonizing reappraisal of my life some six years ago, it was high on the list of places where I considered living. I settled for remaining in the Bay area but continuing the yearly trek to Oregon.

This year I had signed on for four plays: two Shakespearean - Julius Caesar and Henry IV # 2, The Language Archive and G&S’s Pirates of Penzance a la Johnny Depp. Three were superb: Julius played by a woman was surprisingly effective, The Language Archive was more affecting than I expected: I thought it would be more of a intellectual exercise. Henry IV #2 was ok, not the strongest of Shakespeare’s historical plays and I wasn’t taken with the portrayal of Falstaff, particularly the Prince’s termination of his relationship with the old man.

From Spring through Fall, there are a dozen plays performed in three theatres, including an outdoor Elizabethan venue. There was a great selection this year. Unfortunately I always have to squeeze in time between more major trips so don’t always get to plays of choice. My hope is next year I can return to the Ontario, Canada Shakespearean productions and the Shaw theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Besides theatre, I did my usual walk to my favorite restaurants - breakfast at Morning Glory is worth the trip. There is a stop at the library to use the computer, up the town’s hills along tree lined streets for aerobic pump and the hike through Lithia Park. I suspect I’ll allow another day next year and river raft on the Rogue, something I’ve put off for far too. long. I did get to to several extra events, the post play discussion and evening pre-play musical performances.

A good couple of days but needed to be longer.

Round-trip air fare non stop from SFO-Medford via United $511 - I should have use frequent flyer miles and will do so next year. (The other way to go, cheaper, is Alaskan from San Jose to Portland with a connecting flight to Medford.) Round trip shuttle to Ashland: $60. Accommodation for three nights : $269.50. Four plays: $260.: