July 31, 2017
We drive up on Monday, check into our inn (Mercer Hall, right downtown), walk across the street to Bentley's, where we have our first Stratford supper.
The playgoing commences the next day. A matinee each day (2 pm). An evening performance each day (8 pm). Then, on Sunday, a final matinee before we head sadly--sadly, sadly, sadly--for home.
We get up about 7 each day. I walk down to Coffee Culture (CC) while Joyce does some writing. Then, a bit later, she'll meet me at CC for breakfast. (I've been reading.) We'll read some more, talk a lot. Then we'll head out ... I generally go to another coffee shop (Balzac's) and do some more reading--and writing a Daily Doggerel on my trusty iPad. But I'll also check out a bookstore, a clothing shop I like (the Scottish Shop--got a new sweater this year!), a kitchen store (Bradshaw's--didn't get anything this year though I usually find something I "need" to do my baking).
Back to the room for lunch. We've bought a fruit-n-yogurt parfait for each of us back at CC--and I usually bring along from Ohio a batch of scones I've made for the trip. After lunch, we do some reading, resting, writing.
Then ... a walk to the theatre for a matinee.
Afterward ... a walk to the York Street Kitchen, where we have a light supper every night--and have done so for years. It's a tiny spot that closes at six (its major business is at lunch), but we always find a little table where we sit and talk about the matinee and eat our wee meal.
Back to the room to rest and read and write until the evening performance.
And after the play ... back to the room to talk and crash and set ourselves to begin all over again the next day.
Sunday--Departure Day--is different. We pack up, load the car, and drive in the morning over to St. Mary's (about a dozen miles southwest of Stratford). We love the rural ride, the lovely town with so many structures built with local stone--including a Carnegie Library (1905) that's still in business.
Around eleven we head back to Stratford, stopping (as is our wont) for gas for the trip home. I drop Joyce off at Mercer Hall to pay our bill; I drive down to the parking lot outside the Tom Patterson Theatre (always our final venue--the easiest to escape from at show's end!). I leave the car in a spot near the exit, then walk up to the Stratford CC again for reading and talk and lunch with Joyce.
We walk back down to the Tom Patterson, see the show, move briskly out at the end, in the car, start, go, point toward home.
This we have done for fifteen consecutive years.
And this year I wasn't sure it was going to be possible. Health issues became acute late in April, early May, and we talked about canceling. Decided to wait. To see if things would get better.
They did. And my heart inflated with hope.
As you might expect, many in the Stratford audiences are ... older ... now. And every year--but especially this year--I am profoundly moved to see the effort that people make to get there, to get to their seats. Canes. Walkers. Breathing assistance.
But they will get to those seats. They will hear, once again, Orsino sigh, "If music be the food of love, play on!" They will groan when Timon's friends betray him. They will weep when Juliet awakens in her tomb and finds Romeo dead beside her. They will, once again, make themselves available for Wonder. And they will never--never--be disappointed. Just grateful, so deeply, deeply grateful. And I am one of them.