Friday, June 20, 2014

Oregon Shakespeare Festival June 2014

This year's Shakespeare Festival actually started the night before when a play originating at the Ashland, Oregon, event  two years ago won Broadway's Tony award.  And with all sorts of plaudits for the play's director - also the Festival's Artistic Director - and the organization itself.  A long way from when I first attended in the fifties, sitting outdoors on plank seats to view performances. 

With that send off, I caught Shawns RideShare at 4:15 AM the next morning for a day long trek through the Bay Area and up into Ashland by 3 PM.  Lots of Bay area pickups and drop offs:  going and coming we crossed all the main bridges.  Fifteen of us plus one dog going  fourteen plus three  dogs coming.  Way to go.

Ashland is that charming mountain town, not only home to the Festival but to a state university.  Absolutely  gorgeous park.  So seems a combination of young folk with retired people, escapees from California, and a few hippy types,  in a well maintained community.  Plus the tourists who show up for the plays - all ages and sizes.  This was a place I've given - and continue to give - serious consideration to  moving since University of Oregon days.

I stayed at  at the Columbia Hotel, upstairs on the main street  in a back room with shared facilities.    Works for me.  A short walk to the theatres on one side and to the library and its computers on the other.

As I arrived on Monday, a dark night for the Shakespeare theatres, I did get a ticket for the Oregon Cabaret Theatre's production of Aint Misbehavin', a Fats Waller based revue.  A fun way to begin the stay. 

The plays were all good, always,  My only objection was the use of audio assists in the outdoor presentations, particularly the Shakeapeare.  Either you have the chops to   carry it off or you don't.  And if you don't, think of another occupation.  The outdoor Shakespeare was Richard III, the story of mendacity incarnate.  The downfall of that villain  of all time, if not in real life, certainly in Shakespeare's drama.  The other Shakespeare was Comedy of Errors, based in 1920s Harlem - well done in the Thomas Theatre. 

The two contemporary presentations were  Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brusteins Window and  Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods - both excellent.  The Hansberry play I was familiar with but had never seen so it was a new experience. Enjoyed it.

 And I love Sondheim - he hasn't written a bummer that I know of.  This was my third time around with Into the Woods- this  somewhere  between a concert and fully staged version.  Singing and acting conquered the outdoor theatre.   It was a fitting way to end my time in southern Oregon.

Other than play going, I slept, ate, used the library's computer  and wandered about town and park.  Not much of a change  from life in Palo Alto where I do the above plus the minutiae of every day living.  But in a different environment.

Total cost for the excursion was $700, including $160 for transportation and another $150 for cat care.

I will return.


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