Dawn Reader

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Stratford Sundries, 2016-6

Stratford City Hall
August, 2016 
1. Balzac’s Coffee, 10:30 a.m.

Last evening we took a quick walk down to the Avon  Theatre (rain a threat), where we saw (first time for the both of us) Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, a production we both liked quite a bit.

The story concerns some couples—well off—whose marriages are, let’s say, under some stress. (One of the men is brazenly unfaithful.) Things tangle until intermission; afterward, all the principals end up at a country house for a weekend that proves transformative for most everyone.

It’s more like an operetta than a traditional musical—there are 12 songs in the first half alone. In the second, when Désirée (played by the powerful Yanna McIntosh) began singing “Send in the Clowns” in a low lush voice, I lost it, nearly audibly so, weeping not just for what that song meant at the moment on the stage but for the cumulative effect of this week—and for the other weeks we’ve spent up here the previous fourteen years.

Edna St. Vincent Millay has pointed out how foolish it is to plan (I’ve alluded to this sonnet before—deal with it), and as this week winds down, we realize that fragile, unpredictable health might prevent our return a year hence. As Millay wrote, we humans know “when pain subsides, that is not that, / For worse than that must follow.” Wise woman. Wise woman with a piercing blade.

Anyway, the show was good. Some people sang better than others; some moments were more affecting than others (I mentioned but one). And although not all of the principal implications of the story—that marriage is difficult and can be an impediment to love, that hope and regret often propel our actions, that all is evanescent—apply to our situation, still … we imagine and empathize and sink into the soft ground of the story. And weep. Which I did, all the way back to our room—and beyond.

But it did not rain.

2. This morning, we were up for some of the usual on our final full day at the festival. Coffee-bagel-reading-writing-much talk, all conducted in the silent but heavy presence of the imminent moment when we must load the car and point it toward home.

3. I finished Donald Ray Pollock's new novel, The Heavenly Table, and will do a more elaborate post about it later (after we get home). Not too crazy about it (I'd liked his two earlier books), but things to talk about ...

4. Lunch in our room--soon off to see All My Sons ...

Mercer Hall Inn, 6:15 p.m.

1. A powerful Arthur Miller play (and one of his earliest) is All My Sons, performed by a wonderful cast at the Tom Patterson Theatre--especially by the father (played by Joseph Ziegler--see poster above) and the son (Tim Campbell). Set in 1946, the play deals with the aftermath of WW II. The family has lost one of their two sons (a death whose details we don't discover until virtually the final minutes). The other son has returned, alive but damaged a bit, and is involved in his father's business--over which there is a cloud: Did he knowingly send defective airplane parts whose failure caused the death of over 20 airmen?

Anyway, the play is about ethics and morals, fathers and sons, individuals and other human beings, grief, "moving on" (the mother cannot accept the death of her son), and a host of other complicated issues. Much of it boils down to this: To what extent are we responsible for others? For one another? Arthur Miller's answer is pretty evident.

2. Afterward, we hustled over to the York Street Kitchen for our final supper in Stratford--yummy, as usual. Then we splurged and got some sorbet next door (bad, bad, BAD people do such things!). A few gifts to buy on the way back to the room, where we are now working.

3. In less than an hour we'll take our final long walk this year down to the Festival Theatre to see As You Like It, one of my favorites.

4. And tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow--can't forget Macbeth's mighty words!) we'll check out from the Inn before we see our final show at 2 o'clock (more tomorrow about that) and, about 5 o'clock, point the Prius toward Hudson, Ohio, and jam that accelerator!

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