Tyrone’s guest for today’s “Theatre Reflection” was the Nurse from last night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet, Caroline Shaffer. The discussion stayed pretty close to last night’s performance, and one of the first subjects raised (well, I asked the question) was the one I wrote about last night: why didn’t Friar Lawrence (Tyrone) tell Romeo about Juliet’s plan?
The answer: the Friar does try to text Romeo, but the text doesn’t go through. The original plan was to project an image of a “message failed” error on the back wall so the audience would know what happened, but they never were able to get it to work; instead, they added a line that the Friar says to let the audience know about the failed message. Clearly, that line didn’t register with me (or with any of the other people in the group who commented on the issue)!
Other interesting topics that came up included safety (there was a lot of climbing onto the top of a trailer using a rather flimsy ladder), the process of getting the script down to a playable time (3 hours versus the four-plus that their first run-through took), the difficulty of synching closed caption devices to the actual dialog, and mentoring younger actors.
And that was it for this year’s Road Scholar program at OSF.
We had an easy drive home – no significant traffic or slowdowns. We had planned to eat at Yaks in Dunsmuir, but it was incredibly crowded and noisy, so we left and had a very pleasant lunch at Dunsmuir Brewery Works, just a mile away.
We stopped in Redding for gas (it was cheaper than it was in Oregon, much to my surprise) and dessert at Dutch Bros Coffee. We’d been collecting stamps on their loyalty card for years (we only visit them on the way to or from Oregon), and today was the day we were finally going to cash in – except that they’d discontinued the card to go contactless during the pandemic, and we were well past the grace period for the cards. Oh, well – one less item on my packing checklist!
I’m just back from seeing Romeo and Juliet, directed by OSF’s previous Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, who chose to set it in the present day in an unnamed West Coast city (think Oakland). The acting was excellent, the scenery and props added to the storytelling, and the cast was great – but the setting didn’t really work for me.
The play was set “today”, so of course the characters had smartphones. Garrett played that fact for laughs early in the play when Capulet uses the phone to dictate (complete with “comma” and “period”) the invitation to the party where Romeo and Juliet will meet. Romeo had his phone with him in exile in Mantua and used it there to communicate back to Verona – so why wouldn’t Friar Lawrence have let him known of Juliet’s scheme and avoided (spoiler alert) the fatal misunderstanding when Romeo finds Juliet “dead”?
Once more, I’m squeezing today’s blog entry in early so that I don’t have to try to do it after we see Romeo and Juliet tonight (it was 11:30 when we got back to our room after Twelfth Night last night, and I suspect Romeo and Juliet may run even longer).
We started this morning with Barry Kraft delivering a wonderful exploration of Romeo and Juliet, touching on the poetry, sonnets in particular, the significance of the year 1595 to Shakespeare, death, and more. I could have listened to him for far longer, but we had to move on.
Tyrone Wilson brought a guest with him for today’s Theatre Reflections: Armando McClain who played Orsino in Twelfth Night. Armando talked a bit about the play and his career, then spent another twenty minutes answering our questions about life at OSF, fighting, intimacy (well, how an intimacy director helps the actors), being an understudy in addition to having a lead role, and more. I’m always grateful for the actors who come to these sessions at 10:30am after having been in a performance the night before – and we were the second group he’d spoken to this morning. I guess actors don’t sleep during the season.
This afternoon, we saw Rent; I knew a very little about the story and I’d heard “Seasons of Love” a few times, but that was about it. I really enjoyed the performance, but I could have used subtitles because the orchestra overwhelmed the actors a lot of the time.
Last night’s Green Show featured Tempest playing Celtic folk-rock, one of my favorite kinds of music (don’t ask how many Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention albums I own). I bought one of their CD’s; I think my car has a CD player so we can hear it on the way home on Friday.
The main event for the evening was Twelfth Night, set in the 1920s with a blues theme. All of the music was excellent and peformed well; the Fool (Feste), played by Arielle Crosby did most of the singing and was fantastic. I was really amused when the cast broke into the Macarena at one point; apparently, there were some Beyoncé songs, too, but I didn’t recognize them! If you’re coming to Ashland this season, see this production – but be sure to rent a blanket before the play starts, because it got pretty cool during the second act!
We saw Silicon Valley Shakespeare’s production of Twelfth Night last Thursday; tonight, we’re seeing the OSF production.
So today’s lectures were both about Twelfth Night; our first speaker was Kate Wisniewski, a Speech and Text Director and Coach here at OSF. She took us through the first few lines of the play (Duke Orsino begins the play with “If music be the food of love, play on”), showing us how Shakespeare used iambic pentameter but broke the rhythm to emphasize certain words or thoughts (so the second line, “Give me excess of it…”, begins with a trochee so that “Give” is stressed). It was a fascinating hour.
Tyrone Wilson followed with today’s Theatre Reflections, preparing us for Twelfth Night.
We had free time after lunch and Diane and I went to Jacksonville to do a little shopping and a little exploration. We walked up to the Britt Festival grounds, which were open for the first time since we’ve been coming here; there were a few musicians practicing for the symphony concert tomorrow, but it was otherwise empty. We also walked a little of the trails by the Festival grounds.
While we were out, we got the news that our solar installation had passed Town inspection today; we need to fill out a little paperwork and then it’ll be submitted to PG&E for official permission to operate.
We came back to Ashland and had dinner at Caldera Brewing; we’re about to go to the Green Show and then to the Allen Elizabethan Theatre for Twelfth Night. We won’t get back until after 11, so I’m posting now.