Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Startford, Ontario.
We saw Coriolanus yesterday -- this was one of the best productions of Shakespeare I have ever seen anywhere, including the plays I saw at the "real" Stratford in England. I think perhaps the Royal Shakespeare Company sometimes gets a bit ho-hum about it all, but this cast was vivid, energetic and dynamic, clearly enjoying themselves as much as we were!
The stage was round, almost all of it surrounded by audience. There were minimal costumes, but no scenery at all, just as it would have been in Shakespeare's time. Coriolanus isn't one of Shakespeare's best-known plays, and this was the first time I'd seen it performed, and true confessions -- I was a bit dubious about three hours of serious Shakespeare.
It was fabulous. From the tumultuous opening scene to the inevitable, tragic ending, I was enthralled. Coriolanus was played by Colm Feore, an absolutely outstanding Shakespearean actor. He does other kinds of roles, as well; but I have to say, his Coriolanus was simply unsurpassable. Later in the season, he's doing Don Juan, and I'm actually thinking of flying back just to see it. That's how good he is.
That's why I'm here, by the way. Stratford is a sweet little place, but you wouldn't drive thousands of miles (and brave Canadian Immigration) just to watch the swans swimming up and down the river.
The Stratford Festival is the drawing card, not just for me but for thousands of other people who love theatre. Seventeen plays (including four by Shakespeare) performing non-stop (except on Mondays, when everyone rests) in four gorgeous theatres.
Bao enjoys theatre. He especially likes it when there's an empty seat next to me, so he can watch. But he doesn't really mind sleeping under the seat, either. Applause used to alarm him, but he's gotten used to it. And he enjoys mingling with the crowd during intermission. Actually, he's a very cultured little dog.
The Stratford Festival began in 1951, when someone named Tom Patterson said, We've got this town called Stratford, and this river called Avon. Why don't we have a Shakespeare Festival? Now, one of the theatres is named after him.
The Festival is attended by 550,000 people and adds nearly $150 million to Canada's Gross Domestic Product. It generates over $55 million in taxes alone, and creates over 3000 fulltime jobs. It's a very big deal. It might be even bigger if they didn't give Americans such a hard time at the border.


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Ha! Continuing on from yesterday's comment. Just wait 'til you try to come home!

Next go round you'll have to try Shakespear in the Parking Lots in New York City. An offshoot of Shakespear in the Park but I don't remember the significance. Sorry. Probably the stature of the actors. But what a way to get it in front of the public. The audiences are eclectic to say the least but loving it.

12:45 PM

Blogger Betty said...

I'd love to see Stratford in Canada! I saw the one in England a couple of years ago and loved it, tourist traps and all. We went to the RST to see a play by Ibsen. Big mistake. I wish it had been Shakespeare. I had forgotten how dark and gloomy Ibsen was. And, long, Lordy, that play was long, even if it WAS Ralph Fiennes. Those wooden seats get mighty hard - my whole body went to sleep, except for my ears and eyes. But, I did love Stratford, and the Dirty Duck pub and restaurant.

5:56 PM


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