Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love on Stage

This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel...actually it is in an adjoining house. There are 3 ladies there who make scrambled eggs, cook bacon and biscuits, and make sure the rest of the buffet is replenished.
We are in Cedar City, Utah, which is in SW Utah about 3 hours NE of Las Vegas. This is a college town of about 27,000 people. The college is a Mormon school that has grown so much(to about 8000) in the time we have been coming here since 1991. It is a teacher's school, but also has a large drama department... many of the Greenshow and ensemble people come out of there.
The city is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, very near Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. It's hard to believe that it's a mile high when you see mountains looming around you. The weather here is wonderful...while we're here, the temps are from 60 to high eighties...gorgeous blue skies...cool breezes occasionally...magnificent flowers and hanging baskets.

At 9:00 a.m. we went to the Literary Seminar in a grove of trees behind the outdoor theater. Here we listened to and participate in the discussions about the play that we saw last evening. Then an 10:00a.m. we talk about the afternoon performances. At 11:00a.m. there was a Costume Seminar, but today we decided to walk to the campus bookstore. At noon, we went to the Festival Guild's Lunch with the Actors. They served a delicious fajitas buffet with garden salad and cheesecake. This is the first time they have had one of these on a Tuesday...they normally are on Fridays. The 3 actors that they had were ones we had seen either yesterday afternoon or evening. Going to the luncheon put us out too late to go to the afternoon's orientation, but we thought that was OK since we knew the story of The Taming of the Shrew.
Today's afternoon performance was Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It is a delightful comedy dealing with love and headstrong women. Baptista is a successful businessman that has two daughters. The younger one, Bianca, is sweet and gentle and is desired by all the men that know her. The older one is so ill tempered that she is known as Kate the Shrew. Their father has decreed that the Bianca cannot be married until Kate is married. The plot of the play is all about who can woo, marry, and tame Kate.

The twist in this production is that it is set in occupied Italy immediately after the end of WW2. The man tough enough to take on Kate is an American Officer that is part of the Occupiers. Her Dad agrees to the marriage and it takes place. Just to get the marriage off on the right foot, the husband to be arrives late for the wedding and does not dress appropriately. After the wedding ceremony, he takes her to a military camp to help her learn discipline. Along the way Bianca elopes with the young man she loves, and a second suitor, realizing he cannot win Bianca, marries a wealthy widow. Eventually the three couples return to the Father's house and Kate demonstrates much more love and subjecting herself to her husband than the other two recent brides do. It is a real fun 2 1/2 hours. Setting the play in 1946 really worked.

After we left the play, we went to Smith's grocery store and got cherries, strawberries, watermelon and a huge turkey and cheese sub. It was more that the 4 of us could eat, but we had a good time trying. We took our food and went back to the hotel and set on the balcony for our picnic.

The evening's orientation we led by Fred Adams, the founder of the festival. He always has such interesting stories to tell.

Tonight we saw Cyrano de Bergerac in the outdoor theater. This is a fictionalized account of the life of a real person who lived in the 1600's. The play dates back to1897. Cyrano is a poet, heroic soldier, dueler, and a person with a great heart. He has one physical characteristic that haunts him his entire life. He has a big nose. Because of this trait, he lives his life with a feeling of inadequacy. Cyrano has been in love with Roxane all his life (She was his cousin), but she thinks she loves a good looking soldier that is under his command. The soldier, named Christian, is too shy to develop a relationship with Roxane. He asks Cyrano to help him, which he does. One time, Christian is talking romantically with Roxane below her balcony. Cyrano whispers what Christian is to say to Roxane. While the two warriors were off to war, Cyrano wrote daily letters to Roxane in Christian's name. We learn that Roxane loves the author of the letters, which means she unwittingly really loves Cyrano not Christian. After Christian dies in battle, the rest of the play is about what happens to Roxane and Cyrano and their relationship. This play was one of the most powerful plays we have seen in the years we've been here. The plot is much more complex and convoluted than I have described. For instance, along the way, Cryano fights a duel, attacks a gang of 100 thugs by himself, and fights a war. To quote the director of this production:" I consider it a great honor to work on what I believe is one of the most astonishing texts ever written."

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