Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This morning I walked at 6:30a.m. and it was 64 degrees. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, sausage, breads and fruit, we headed off to the Seminars in the Grove where at 9:00 we discussed Much Ado About Nothing. About 60 people joined us in an outdoor setting under a grove of spruce trees and we are lead by a Shakespeare scholar. Everyone agreed that it was a great production.

At 10:00, the discussion focused on Pride and Prejudice and several people had seen movies as well as plays. The character of Claudio was debated on as to his bad traits. The gentleman who had co-adapted the play joined in the discussion which added so much to the time there.

We then went to Lunch with the Actors that was sponsored by the Festival Guild. We had a wonderful buffet lunch of chicken, turkey, dressing, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, salad, roll and apple crisp. There were 3 of the actors who came and told us about various aspects of their career and answered questions from the diners.
Then it was time for the orientation for The 39 Steps by Alfred Hitchcock. The afternoon plays are in the Randell Theater and normally it is chilly in there and a jacket always feels good, but today...maybe since it was a sell out...the jackets were not needed. The 39 Steps is a play set in London in 1935. Although based on Alfred Hitchcock's thriller of the same name, this play is a farce. It had 4 actors, but they played some 140 characters. The plot deals with preventing spys from delivering state secrets to the Nazi's. The plot has a murder, police chases, a wild train ride, and many twists and turns, all done with the four actors changing characters and costumes almost instantaneously. The play ends with the spys being captured and the hero getting the heroine.

For supper, we went to Sweet Basil, which is a Thai restaurant. We were not sure what to order and the nice young waiter suggested the Thai noodle dish with various meats, so J and D had the seafood, Mike had the chicken and I had the shrimp. Our degree of "hotness" went from a 0 for J, a 1 for me and the guys chose a 3, but wished they had asked for a 2!! We also got a bowl of wonderful soup.
At one of the other tables were 3 of the actors from the Festival...one of which we have enjoyed seeing for the past 8 years. They were all 3 performing tonight... the girls in the play and the young man in the Green Show. Visiting with them was a real treat for all of us.

The gentleman doing the orientation this evening was Fred Adams, who was the founder of the Festival, 49 years ago.

The evening play was The Merchant of Venice It was written by Shakespeare during a time of discrimination against the Jews that lived in England. On the surface it is a play about Christians (the good guys) and Jews ( the bad guys). From the time it was written until the end of World War II, it was played as a comedy. Once the world learned about the Holocaust, the play has been presented almost as a tragedy. The orientation leader described the play as Shakespeare's most brutal play although no one is killed. It opens with a conversation between the Merchant of Venice named Antonio (a Christian) and Shylock ( a Jew). they are both wealthy citizens . Antonio makes his money by buying and selling merchandise around the world using his fleet of ships while Shylock is a moneylender. The two men dislike each other.

One of Antonio's friends asks him for a loan so he can go court a fair, virtuous, rich lady in a neighboring state. Unfortunately, Antonio does not have the cash because his ships are at sea. Antonio sends the friend to see Shylock to see if he will loan the money to his friend. Antonio pledges to be good for the loan if his young friend cannot repay it. Shylock loans the money only on the condition that if it is not paid back on time, he can slice a pound of flesh from Antonio's body.

As luck would have it, Antonio's friend wins the heart of the maiden he was courting, but Antonio gets word that his ships are lost and he cannot pay back the loan. Shylock calls for the loan to be paid by Antonio surrendering his pound of flesh. Just as the time for the loan to be repaid comes, the wife of Antonio's friend comes to the court disguised as a lawyer. Using Shylock's own words, she shows the court that Shylock can extract his pound of flesh, but cannot spill a drop of Antonio's blood. Outwitted, Shylock relents on getting his pound of flesh, but then finds himself charged with plotting the death of a Venetian citizen. The punishment for this crime is that he must forfeit half of his fortune. The court further decrees that he must become a Christian. So the play ends with everyone happy except Shylock the Jew.


Kelly said...

I think Fred has refreshed his piece!

CoachKSH said...

Did you HAVE to brag about the temp?

misslynda said...

Very interesting post. Do you know the plays to be performed before your trip and read about them? Or do you know Shakespeare so well that it is like visiting an old friend? I was just curious because it is obvious how much you are enjoying yourselves.