Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Wanderings

I know, I know -- I keep falling behind in recapping my travels and activities (which is why you should be on Facebook ;-). It's the most stressful month of my academic career, so you're going to have to cut me a little slack until Oct 1. Today I'm off to the Medieval Festival at Sterup Square to talk about Medieval Magic and Harry Potter. Hope it's fun.

Rumor has it my folks may be arriving in NY tonight...

Last weekend, I headed off to Shakespeare and Co. I got there early for the behind-the-scenes tour, which was fascinating. They have a new theatre this year. In addition to the Founders Theatre and the Rose Footprint Theatre, there's now the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, built inside what was once a sports complex. It was great going behind the stage at Founders, seeing the cheat sheets, green room and what not.

Even more fun was the visit through the bustling props, costumes and weapons rooms in the Bernstein complex. In what had been the ice arena is now storage where they can have all the furniture grouped by type and visible. The prop building room, where there was a body under construction for Hound of the Baskervilles, was great fun to see and hear about; ditto the costume room. But I really adored seeing all the stored costumes; there was something delightful about seeing a big box labeled "Wings" and seeing a wall of crowns. In the shoe and hat room, I took this blurry photo of the "Good boaters" and there was vast array of shoes and hats that I just wanted to explore, but we had to keep moving along. The weapons room, too, had much to see -- we only got to hold one sword, but there were all kinds of wonderful pieces. There's a giant workshop for set building that has its own exhaust system to cut down on noise, and new rehearsal rooms for their education programs.

Shakespeare & Co is always looking for support: consider adding to the Kresge Foundation Challenge Grant!

The tour finished just in time for the matinee of Measure for Measure, one of the Bard's plays I have not seen in production. The cast came from the Summer Training Institute and were a great advertisement for the program. Some of the folks relegated to smaller roles made the most of the humour of the play and the principles were all confident and assured for the most part. Emily Hagburg made an appealing Isabella, Tom O'Keefe gave a measured air to the mostly diguised Duke (though he reminded me a little too much of Richard Branson in appearance); Gabriel Portuondo sometimes seemed a bit too stiff physically as the cruel Angelo, but loosened up when he played Mistress Overdone as a kind of vampy flapper. I would have liked to have seen more of Michael Dix Thomas who played Escalus -- very much a kind of Tom Wilkinson kind of assurance and manner. It was all thoroughly enjoyable -- as was the frosty Berkshire Ale available at the snack counter. The pizza for one, on the other hand, is better left alone.

It's great to have so many good theatres in the region!

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