Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My vacation to the theater

Meanwhile, the vacation report. I went to the Shakespeare festival and there I saw:

  • Comedy of Errors set in Atlantic City, with dreamboat Ray Porter as both Antipholuses
  • Much Ado About Nothing nicely stepping out of the "everything must be as Branagh made it" mold. The set - large arched windows lit front & back for different emotional effects - and the costumes - 1930's dresses, Comedia del'Arte clown suits in the masked ball - surrounded and supported the performances.
  • Oedipus Complex by Frank Galati blending the original story of Oedipus Tyrannus (who knew it mean swollen foot?) with Freud's theories about the universality of the desires Oedipus falls victim to. 1920's university lecture halls as amphitheaters and students as the Greek chorus. Though some in my party thought it less than totally successful, I loved it. Read more
  • Humble Boy: a bereaved family, a garden, beekeeping and the theory of everything. A marvellous text, movingly enacted. If this play is performed near you, go see it! This review covers both Oedipus and Humble Boy
  • Henry VI, part 1
  • Henry VI, parts 2 & 3 - These weren't great plays, but they weren't awful either. They helped link up Richard II-Henry IV-Henry V with next season's Richard III.
  • King Lear for the second time at Ashland. This staging was more emotional for me. The character of Mad Tom was totally shocking in a way I've never seen before. Julie Oda and Ken Albers (Cordelia and Lear) were so deeply connected and loving to each other.

This was my 10th year at the OSF and again I have to say they do some of the best theater in the country. The choice of plays and the quality of the acting are fabulous. I highly recommend OSF and the whole Ashland experience

After seeing all the plays, we try to assign a theme to the whole season. Usually the theme of every season is best summed up as "Men are pigs". OK, that might not be totally accurate - but try it out the next time you go to the theater. Men are pigs sums up a lot of work performed on the stage.

This year, OSF said the theme had to do with family and history. But I think the real theme was "Dead Fathers". Out of 11 plays, the dead/missing father had a significant impact on at least 7 (Henry VI, part 1, Topdog/Underdog, Oedipus Complex, Raisin in the Sun, Humble Boy and two where the father dies or is killed onstage: The Visit, King Lear) In Henry VI, parts 2 & 3 and the Royal Family the father's death is a little bit further in the past, but the dead father still influences the action of the play. So that's 11 plays, 9 dead/absent fathers. Two members of our party had lost their fathers in the past year, making the theme pretty tough on all of us. And why was it fathers every time, hmmm? Should we expect a year of dead mothers next season?


Blogger Bogie said...

It can be eerie when a recurring theme... well when it's a recurring theme. (Maybe I need that "verbal advantage" cassette series I keep hearing advertised on KCBS.)

Welcome home! Looking forward to seeing you at SnB because I have your swap bag from the Meetup and it's got a few new things in it.

August 25, 2004 2:59 PM  
Blogger spinnity said...

Oooh, what did I get? And it sound like I get some stuff back. Did the swap go well?

August 25, 2004 4:19 PM  

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