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.:


totoro kaiwa said...

Hey Jo,
Ernie & I are doing the Rogue River boat ride next month. We hope to see a play at Ashland also. When we did our yearly trek to Ashland, we also always stayed at the Columbia Hotel. We hear the couple who managed it all those years have retired. Wonderful memories! Tell me what you carry in your back pack. (I bought a Scotte vest for my Japan trip last Oct. and didn't have to use a purse.) Love reading your descriptions. Thanks
Diana (ダイアナ)

LynnWords said...

Nice write up of Ashland; I live her but secretly wondered what the Columbian was like.