Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2014

 Again this October, friends Toni, Ruth and I convened in Ashland for plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This year, though, we rented an AirBnB cottage just a mile from the theaters and Lithia Park. It was actually a converted garage on an alley, private, quiet, roomy and just perfect for our needs. We liked it so well we immediately reserved it for next October's Shakespeare jaunt.

Toni and I arrived Tuesday evening while Ruth did not pull in until Wednesday. That night was the total eclipse of the moon... at about 3 in the morning. The moon shone through the two skylights in our cottage so I thought I might wake up in time... and I did. Toni had asked me to wake her if I happened to get up...  and I did. We stood a few steps outside our door and watched the lovely red moon, although we never saw it completely red. We each saw shooting stars as well. What a wonderful way to start our Ashland adventure.

Our actor friend J.P. Phillips is rehabbing from a hip replacement and so not in the troupe this year. However, he and Monica met us for The Tempest (a wonderful production!) our first day there and then for supper at the Thai restaurant that we traditionally go to with J.P. after one of his performances. This is the first time that Monica and I have been in Ashland at the same time. Hopefully, it will work out again next year.

That evening, Toni, Ruth and I saw the rollicking musical Into the Woods. The first act twined several fairy tales together and all ended happily... but not ever after because in the second act reality struck and the characters suffered the consequences of their actions... like stealing golden eggs from giants. Be careful what you wish for... and how you go about getting it.

I took no photos on the bricks or anywhere around the theaters, but I took lots in Lithia Park where Toni, Ruth and I hiked our second day there. Toni had bunged up her knee earlier this summer and was walking with a cane. But she threw it down to play on the playground equipment at the park.

The colors were beginning to turn...

There were various kinds of trees in various shapes and bark types...

This looked like a puzzle tree with the pieces on the ground below. It seemed as though you could pick up a piece and fit it onto the tree somewhere. But where?

There was lots of wildlife in the park...

Ruth and Toni...

Deer, unconcerned about people...

Gorgeous Wood Ducks on Lithia Creek, almost as unconcerned as the deer...

And, many signs warned, a bear, also unafraid of people. We did not see the bear, but we found a tree he had liberally marked with his claws.

That afternoon, Ruth went to an emotionally draining play (but wonderfully acted, like all the plays we saw), Water by the Spoonful, while Toni and I napped and read. That evening we all saw Two Gentlemen of Verona with an all female cast. I loved the sense this director made of the problematic ending of this play. Rather than "giving" his girlfriend to his best friend, Proteus, who had tried to steal her from him, indeed rape her, Valentine accepted his friend's abject remorse and instead gave him love, just as he gave love to his girlfriend Sylvia. That makes more sense to me than the usual interpretation. I also loved having women playing all the roles, male and female.... which seems only fair, considering that in Shakespeare's day, all the roles were played by men.

The next morning Ruth and I headed for Emigrant Lake while Toni had a chance to nap and read... and rest her knee.

The lake was half empty but still lovely.

 The terrain and vegetation are so different from my part of Western Oregon... rocky and dry.

Lots of Manzanita...

And a few Ponderosa Pines...

We wondered about the round formations in the rocks and the straight lines... Ruth proposed that they were formed from volcanic action, bubbles of lava that solidified and cracked.

Up at the picnic end of the park there were many oak trees and many Acorn Woodpeckers, busily caching acorns. They would not, however, hold still long enough, or in the open enough, for photographs. This was the best I could do.

 Then it was time to return to the cottage and our second day of delicious lunch leftovers from the Thai meal on our first day. (We ate suppers at various restaurants, all different and all good.) In the afternoon we toured book store and art galleries before the Green Show and our evening play, The Cocoanuts. This Marx brothers musical comedy was outrageously funny. The actor playing Groucho was phenomenal.

Four plays and two Green Shows in three days was just right for Toni and me... but we have already selected six plays in three days for next year's trip. And I am looking forward to the three of us exploring more Ashland area parks in the mornings, if the weather is as perfect next October as it was this. What a wonderful break from harvest season.

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