Friday, March 9, 2007

Live Blogging from Ashland

Season Preview

We're in Ashland--actually, a motel on the fringe of Ashland, right next to the Rogue River National Forest--to see some plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We saw Tom Stoppard's On the Razzle last night--and it's likely to be one of the hits of this, Libby Appel's last season as artistic director. Today it's As You Like It for the matinee, and The Cherry Orchard tonight. Am I dreaming? Not likely, since I got almost no sleep last night. But after the Shasta Breakfast at the Wild Goose Cafe, I'm great. For now. These plays may look like a dream as the day goes on.

All the plays except the one we'll see Saturday before returning will play through the summer, so it may be awhile before I write about them in the Stage Matters column. We're already talking about when we'll return, to catch several of the plays that start later, especially August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean --which will be the first of his plays I've seen anywhere but Pittsburgh, several times with him in attendance. And then the big productions in the outdoor summer theatre, which is an experience I haven't had yet.

Again, even this early in the season, what's great about this other than the high quality of the productions is the audience. Last night was weighted towards high school students in groups on one end, and gray-haired couples at the other, with a decent sized minority of folks in between. But the audiences are alive. Right now, here in the motel lobby/breakfast nook, there are several h.s. students and their teacher, here for plays. I have yet to see the smirks and slouches of the cynical and unwilling, though some of the conversations indicate that at least some of these kids participate in theatre in their schools. I caught a bit of several last night talking excitedly about the stage set, and how the entrances and exits were managed. This is always how it gets passed on. The future of theatre in the seats.

Next trip we hope to see some other theatre here. There's one advertising: Men On Skates: The Wisconsin Ice Fisherman's Musical. Which could be a case of a title too funny for the play to live up to. If it's here when we come back, maybe we'll see.

By the way if you're wondering, the Journal doesn't pay a cent of my expenses, for this or any other trip.

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