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Ashland 10 October 2017
A nice long walk up Siskiyou Avenue to the Breadboard for breakfast ... our new favorite breakfast, due to the fact that it's not as thronged as Morning Glory, and just as good food. Got there too late for their amazing cinnamon wheels, so our waitress brought us a pumpkin pancake instead.
An afternoon play, the first part of Henry IV. For some reason, the OSF wallahs love to translate the histories into modern military garb. This translation included a female Hotspur, the gifted young warrior on the wrong side of the monarchy. Why not? This is the play when Hal, Prince of Wales and Henry V-to-be, starts out as a dissolute trickster, but comes to understand, at the end, the seriousness of his role. The fool, often Shakespeare's wisest character, is Falstaff, and much of the first half of the play is a chaotic development of these two characters ...and chaotic this production was.
In the second half, when the guns start shooting, the strobes start flashing, and smoke fills the theater – in-the-round for this production – Falstaff gets his wonderful soliloquy ("catechism") about honor and death, and he was superb. Again the theme of the pierced fourth wall (the invisible curtain that traditionally separates audience from actors) emerges, an evolution of modern stagecraft and a desperate effort to distinguish live theater from the consumerist nature of video entertainment, this time the audience enthusiastically providing the answers,
Honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word 'honor'? What is that 'honor'? Air. A trim reckoning.
Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon.
And so ends my catechism. (5.1.130-142)
A semi-bewildered standing-O – Why not? The players were hearty and vivid.
photos: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Awesome dinner after the play at Taroko – Mongolian beef, pot stickers with delicious broth, a bountiful wonton soup. Ate too much, Yum.
Back to the cottage for a short break, then to the Green Show, where just possibly my favorite entertainer of all time, Supaman, aka Christian Parrish, held us spellbound for 45 minutes. I don't think I've ever known a performer who was better at piercing the fourth wall. Sure, the audience self-selected – I wouldn't have missed it for the world – but they whooped, clapped, and responded ...
"Dunh-dududunh-dunh..." Dunh DUNH!
"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands..." Clap Clap!
"Nationwide is..." On your side!
A fitting conclusion to Ashland's first ever Indigenous Peoples' celebration, something that's been cooking now for almost fifty years! About time...
And a shameless promotion for the connection the First Nations Peoples have with Mother Earth, and the invitation we all have to become First People. Love it.
There's a cool piece of Supaman for your enjoyment here.
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