Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2016, Act Three

Although we spent most of our time at Judy and Don's asleep, I did join them mornings for their walk to get the newspaper. Their wonderful Labradoodle, Rusty, carries the paper back to the house for them.

They have a spectacular view of the valley and mountains from their house on a hill.

Lots of birds, including flocks of wild turkeys, are ever present.

This magnificent Madrone is on their route to the mailbox.

 While sitting on their deck one morning, we saw a kettle of Turkey Vultures massing for migration. Judy said they see hundreds every fall circling higher and higher to get over the Siskiyou Mountains and head south.

We were never there for sunsets as we had plays every night, but the sunrises were spectacular and ever changing...

One early morning, Rusty barked at a shadowy figure that he could see, but I could not, until I looked through my camera. It was one of the many jack rabbits that inhabit the valley.

 The weather, during our stay, was wonderful: warm days, cooler nights but not too cool for the evening, outdoor plays.

Oh yes, the plays! Timon of Athens on Wednesday afternoon; a Green Show before the evening plays and then The Winter's Tale in the outdoor theater. Although magnificently acted, as always at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I did not like The Winter's Tale as well as the one I had seen there years ago. After returning home, I realized why: our good friend J.P. Phillips had been in The Winter's Tale the last time I saw it, and I so love watching him perform that I think my opinion of performances is colored by that: if J.P. is in a play, it must be wonderful. J.P. is just recovering from knee surgery and I have high hopes I will, in the future, see him on the stage in Ashland again.

As for Timon, I simply have a different attitude toward him than the director this time did. I think Timon is someone who should have listened to the advice from Polonius, in Hamlet. (Granted, that is not possible.) "Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." If Timon had heard and heeded that advice, there would be no need for the play. I think Shakespeare is telling us that if we don't heed the advice from Polonius, we could also fail to recognize false friends and fail to appreciate true ones and end up as messed up as Timon.

Hamlet on Thursday night, even though J.P. was not in it, was spectacular. It may be my new favorite Hamlet production.  This time, I agreed with the director's interpretation. Hamlet was very real, very human.  And I felt empathy for old Polonius, who, although wordy, had a lot of good things to say but the young folk did not want to take the time to listen to him.

That afternoon Toni, Ian and I took a break from plays: resting, reading, talking. Ruth, determined to complete the entire canon of Shakespeare in a decade, as OSF is doing, went to Richard II, which she said was magnificent. Our last play, on Twelfth Night, was also wonderful. Four Shakespeare plays in as many days, five for Ruth: a feast to savor.

As always, we took a backstage tour and as always I learned new things. For the first time since I've been going on these tours, one of the people who create the wigs the actors wear was able to take some minutes to talk to our tour group. Wow! What an amazing amount of work and cleverness goes into the hundreds of hair pieces they are responsible for each season.

Our tour leader that Friday morning was an actor we saw on stage in Twelfth Night that afternoon. He was a marvelous Malvolio and, to our delight, exited the stage at the end of the play from an audience door right next to our row of seats. OSF works to make the audience feel part of the productions, so that we are inside the action rather than voyeurs. It makes Shakespeare's plays closer to what they were in Shakespeare's day. And brings home the realization that even when set in modern times and places, or fanciful times and places, the plays portray humans like ourselves with human frailties and strengths, dreams and sorrows.

Next, an epilogue...

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