Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Study Photographs, 1

Not long ago, I did a little series of posts about the framed objects hanging in the little bathroom that adjoins my study. And now! Let's move on to the study itself.

What you see above is a framed poster of a production of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, a production of the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. I did not see this production (curses!), but I did acquire the poster during a visit to the RSC one summer when I was dashing around England trying to see as many Shakespeare sites as I possibly could, including, of course, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Bard's birthplace, a community that's now kind of like Shakespeare World (think: Disney World).

In this building (the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) there is quite a gift shop, and among the things they sell are posters from their productions. A close look at the poster will show you that it's advertising a production in 1986, and that was the summer I was in Stratford.

I was particularly smitten with Merry Wives at the time because I'd decided to direct the play at Aurora (Ohio) High School; it would be--as far as I could determine--the first production of a full-length Shakespeare play in the history of the school (students had performed the "Pyramus and Thisbe" segment from A Midsummer Night's Dream a few years before). And in the spring of 1989 I did so.

In ways, Merry Wives was one of the highlights of my career. I had a wonderful cast, many of whom remain in my life (courtesy of Facebook), and they did a splendid job. I was disappointed only with the poor turnout for our four performances. The community didn't exactly swarm to the high school gym to see Shakespeare. We had fewer than 150 each time.

About a year later (spring 1990), I took some cast members to Washington, D.C., to see a production of the play at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and that was a great experience as well. It was the first time I'd ever seen a production other than our own, and I have to tell you that I was happy (justified?!) when I saw that the director had made some of the same cuts and adjustments that I had. (It was an odd production in one way: A woman (Pat Carroll) played Falstaff.) (New York Times review of production.))

Meanwhile, I was buying Wives-related things like a junkie--posters, films, antique prints. The passion subsided as the years went on, but I still feel quite a rush when I see a production of the play--none of which, of course, rivals that 1989 one at Aurora High School, March 9, 10, 11, 12.

And now? I have my memories ... a lot of things hanging on my wall ... and, looming wonderfully over me and my desk, Falstaff, sprinting away from Master Ford,a jealous husband of a merry wife.

**BTW: I just discovered that you can still buy that poster from the RSC online!

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