Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Stratford Sundries, 2016-2

Stratford, Ont.
City Hall
photo from Aug 1, 2016, evening
1. This morning we began our routines (or ruts—however you want to put it!). Up about 7 (an hour later than our back-in-Hudson custom). I headed down to Coffee Culture, a franchise with a nice store in Stratford. I found “my” easy chair available (oh, Fates, I thank you!) but had an unpleasant time trying to log onto the wireless (oh, the problems of Modern Man!) and never did manage to do so, despite the manager’s assurance that there would no problem. Ha! So, Internet-less, I read my quota of pages for the book I’m reviewing for Kirkus Reviews later this week, and, after Joyce arrived, had a wee breakfast and a continuation of our 47-year conversation ...

2. After a couple of hours of reading and talking, Joyce headed out to check on the Shopping Situation, and I hit Balzac’s Coffee, where I read some of the new Donald Ray Pollock novel, The Heavenly Table, which I am enjoying—and which I will write more about after I finish. I’ll just say this: It’s World War I time, rural Ohio (and south of the Ohio River), and Pollock has several stories going, alternating chapters.

I also wrote some doggerel for my other blog (Daily Doggerel), worked a little on this blog, waited for Joyce to arrive, which she soon did. In a bit we’ll walk back to the room and have our small lunch (fruit-and-yogurt parfait that we bought earlier at Coffee Culture + sourdough muffins I made this past weekend).

3. After that—we’ll head down to the Tom Patterson Theatre (an easy walk from our room), where we’ll see Part I of Breath of Kings, the title given to the three-into-two compression of three of Shakespeare’s plays—Richard II, Henry IV (I), and Henry IV (2). We’ll see the 2nd half tonight. Psyched!

4. 6:02 Back from seeing a wonderful production that combined/shortened R2 and H IV(1) into one smooth, flowing story, with a cast of Stratford veterans--as well as some talented newcomers (in the roles of Prince Hal and Harry Hotspur, especially). Of course, Falstaff always steals H IV (1), and the gifted Geraint Wyn Davies (whom we've seen many times up here) had the audience from his first word.

Richard II (which consumed the first half of the three-hour production) was wonderfully portrayed by Tom Rooney, another great Stratford veteran, who extracted every ounce of sympathy from the crowd for his portrayal of the king overthrown by the man who would be Henry IV, played by another great Stratford veteran, Graham Abbey, whom we've also seen (and enjoyed) many, many times. He also wrote the adaptation of the plays.

The production was in the round (an oval, really) with mulch all over the surface of the playing area, mulch which they (crew and players) moved, cleared, returned, shaped. I was dazzled. It represented, at times, the earth of England, the ashes of life, the clutter of history, and on and on.

And--once again--we sit in wonder in the dark as we hear Shakespeare's 400-year old words flow toward us in torrents that make us ask, again and again, Where did all that come from? Really: How could one human being have so much poetry in his soul? So much knowledge about the hearts of the rest of us? And such ability to make us laugh, cry, grieve, celebrate--and, finally, to sit in awe that someone of our species could do all of this!

5. Tonight, we'll go see a production of The Aeneid in the Studio Theatre, the Festival's "experimental" venue (it's a small space), and we always enjoy ourselves there, as well.

6. We've noticed these past few years the "graying" of the audiences (myself included, of course). Many in the audience today could probably remember Pres. Eisenhower--even FDR--or Hoover? The Tom Patterson Theatre demands a lot: steep steps up to narrow aisles with little room between the seats. Yet people get here--even struggle here with canes, walkers, the helping hands of friends, family, and strangers. Many things in life are humbling (believe me); this sight is one of them.

7. And a final thing I've overheard more than once in more than one place: puzzled Canadians asking Americans about Donald Trump.

No comments:

Post a Comment