Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shakespeare Festivals

It's Shakespeare festival time.  The brochures are arriving.

Park in Stratford
There's the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, of course.  We used to live nearer to Stratford, so we traveled there every year.  We planned to see two plays a day, but usually burned out after one, so we'd see the second play the second day, the third play the third day, and so on.  There was plenty to do:  hang out in the park and watch the swans in Lake Victoria, take a boat ride on the River Avon, go out for tea or coffee, walk around the town and admire the nineteenth-century houses, browse at a bookstore or antique shop, hike in a park near Goderich (we think), and swim in Lake Huron.

If you can't go to Stratford, and I certainly wish I COULD go back, there are Shakespeare festivals in almost every state.

My friend the actress once played a shepherdess in As You Like It at a Shakespeare festival in Boise.  She finished a master's in theater arts, moved to a big city, played some small roles in a local theater, then moved again to follow her husband.  She lost touch with the theater when she was home with the kids, but during those halcyon hours when the kids were in nursery school, she made friends, implored stay-at-home neighbors to walk around the lake with her for comapany, and organized an evening play-reading group.  Finally she got her break when a slightly crazed community theater director cast her as Hermione in The Winter's Tale (she got to wear a Coco Chanel suit!).  She never made it to Stratford, but she often worked in small theaters in neighboring towns and absolutely believed in what she was doing.

Well, the brochures may have made me think of her.  She loved her Shakespeare festivals!  You can see Romeo and Juliet at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Bloomington, The Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona,  The Taming of the Shrew at the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Othello at Flatwater Shakespeare in Lincoln, Nebraska, and As You Like It at the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival.  And of course each festival shows at least one other play (often two).

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