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Ashland 21 September 2022


2494 :

Easy day, a total of 43 miles compared to yesterday's 309. In 2009 the dam was removed because it was going to be too expensive to fix, and was blocking 3.5 miles of prime salmonid riverbed.

<p>Rogue River below Savage Rapids</p>

Rogue River below Savage Rapids

2495 :

C Street Bistro in Jacksonville, Oregon is a favorite spot. Tiny, out of the way, I don't remember how we found it, but worth finding. Big clue: It's on C Street.

Possibly the best tomato soup on the planet. We asked for the recipe, and our waitress said, “All I can tell you is, thyme and time again. It's very simple; don't overthink it.” On the menu it says the added mystery ingredients are lemon, pepper, and kalamata olive puree.

Rachel (Reuben's sister) and Bistro Salad
2496 :

On to Ashland. The ugly has metastasized northward, and apparently a new traffic director has had her (or his) way with the streets, so it feels more like a big city than it did five years ago when we were last here. Or we're getting older. Or both.

After resolving a little confusion about where our AirBnB was (hidden behind a parking lot right beside the southbound Highway 99 bridge) we had tea and a delicious chocolate coconut cookie at Dobrá Tea and then occupied our cavelike but generously large space. Phew!

Out for dinner to the Ashland Coop, one of the world's best grocery stores, where we got to-go salads in preparation for the Green Show. It had been intermittently rainy, and so we found the wooses of the Show had cancelled – what kind of Oregonians are these? – so we ate our salads and then went up the street to the ice cream store for an affogato.

2498 :
<p>Rain clouds before the play</p>

Rain clouds before the play

The Tempest in the (outdoor) Elizabethan, with rain in the forecast. Far too many people far too close, but at least OSF is enforcing a mask policy. Still uncomfortably many after these plague years. This is the first time in three years the huge Elizabethan outdoor theater has been open, and the director made a point that The Tempest was first staged during London's own Plague Years, and was intended as a spectacular relief from the imposed isolation. Point taken. 

The rain began just after the storm sequence – poorly timed, Jupiter Pluvius; pay attention! – but miraculously fell on the row just ahead of us; we felt maybe ten drops between us. The air was humid, though, and the combination of mask and glasses was daunting. The director, and the play itself, make the point that the audience is a critical ingredient in the ambiance of a play, any play, and especially this one: breaking the fourth wall being something that OSF has traditionally done superbly.

2499 :

I couldn't help remembering, throughout the performance, that my first OSF play was Taming in 1960, narrowly missing their production of The Tempest that same year. As we are fond of saying, “maybe this is our last year?” More on that tomorrow.

I couldn't help noticing the sign right outside the theater doors, 'Absolutely no photography within the theater' and was of course momentarily annoyed when several of the folks in the row ahead of us whipped out the ifōnz and snapped the stage. Then I remembered, the sign said 'photography' and that would specifically exclude 'smart' phones. 

Other than that, it was a good audience, maybe 70% full (a record unfullness in our experience): they knew the lines even though some of the speakers overran the capability of their mics and were impossible to parse, and laughed appropriately. At one point, Stephano started a song and the audience was clapping along with him even before his invitation. 


2500 :

Technically, given the limitations of the Elizabethan – lots of altitude, but not much opportunity for scenery – the production literally sparkled – lots of interesting video projections on the half-timbered façade. There's a troubling trend in spoken word as presented by some modren [sic] actors, i.e. talk Brando-like as if your mouth is partly full of unchewed potatoes. Luckily, only Prospero and Antonio were guilty of this; sadly, many of the most important ideas were garbled. And, luckily, we and most of the audience knew the play well enough to keep up nevertheless.

Mics are a problem as well as a gift. Tiny Miranda was easily heard where 'back in the day' a much louder ingenue would have been required. They enable the much larger venue, but that in itself is problematic, as it undercuts the whole purpose of intimacy between actors and audience. Once again we walked away from the play feeling somewhat unfulfilled despite the excellence of the acting and production, as if OSF direction has somehow bent away from its core audience in its effort to be 'meaningful.' Whatever that means.

However, in fairness, this being one of my maybe three favorite Shakespeare plays (R&J, Taming) I loved it. I saw new stuff . . .and old remembered stuff like Caliban and Trinculo under the blanket. I don't suppose any production lives up to perfection, and, by Jingo, this one, withal, was better'n good enough.

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