Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,

Ashland 2009, Day Two

It felt like the crack of dawn when my alarm went off at 7:00 am. At first, I thought I'd ignore my buzzing phone and go back to sleep, but it seemed an inauspicious start to my first morning in Ashland. So I got up and staggered down the hall to the showers.
(Our dorm room was right next to the restrooms. I haven't decided if that was good or bad. On the one hand, it's convenient as heck when you need to go. On the other, it's noisier because you can hear everyone flushing and brushing and splashing all night long.)

Breakfast in the dorm cafeteria was nice. Coffee. Eggs. Yogurt. Pancakes. Juice. Fruit. My roommate and I sat off by ourselves, as we did the night before, but many of the other people in our group sat by together and were chatting away. It was very busy; several sports teams were staying in the same dorm so wrestlers, football players and track team members were constantly filing about. Most of them looked too young (early high school, possibly a few college freshmen-to-be) to be eye candy. Too bad.

At 9:00 we met in the Cox Classroom to discuss Macbeth. Reactions were varied, but as a general rule the over-60 adults didn't care for it, especially if they'd seen the play before. There was too much spectacle, too much shouting, and too much blood. Another popular criticism was that the players didn't interact with the audience and take advantage of the stage's space. The under-20s, on the other hand, generally loved it. For one guy, it was the first play he'd ever seen, and he thought it was great. There was a pretty strong generation gap when it came to appreciating the play, in fact.
There are two teachers on this trip: Teacher J and Teacher B. Teacher B is the more distant of the two; the only time he ever talked to we under-20s was during these class discussions, and even then it wasn't really a conversation. We'd go around in a circle giving our feedback, and he'd often interrupt and start to talk about his thoughts on whatever point was being considered, but before fully expressing himself he'd stop and say "Oh, I don't want to give anything away" or "We shouldn't talk about that yet." It was a bit annoying at times because if you don't want to discuss it, why bring it up? Anyway, Teacher B really liked talking, so he led the discussion for the most part.

The class wrapped up around 10:00 and our first play of the day The Music Man wasn't until 1:30 so we had some time to kill. My roommate wanted to go back to sleep, so she went back to the dorm and I decided to walk downtown.
On the way into town I took a lot of photos of the houses that lined Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland's main strip. (At least, I assume it's the main road. I could be completely wrong on that.) I wonder how the residents feel about that. Strangers taking photos of their homes, I mean. If someone took a picture of my house I'd find that really weird. But our yard is derelict, our paint's peeling, and the house is a cookie-cutter suburban blah house. Most of these little cottages were brightly colored with lovely gardens and were totally cute! So I didn't feel too guilty about it.

Downtown Ashland has lots of cute boutique shops. Unfortunately, most of them target the professional and the mature woman, so there weren't a lot that I wanted to shop in. When I did see something cute, it was always far more than I wanted to spend. There was a bookshop on nearly every corner, though, so I spent a lot of time browsing each one. (Didn't buy any books though. Whew. I have so many to read for Fashionista Piranha Book Blog that I'm on a no-buy restriction for the rest of the year. Well, except for Cleopatra's Daughter. No way I'm missing out on Michelle's newest novel!) A very pleasant morning was spent walking up and down the streets, getting to know the tourist end of the city.

For lunch I bought a blackberry scone and walked over to Lithia Park. It had beautiful green grass and lovely shade trees to sit under as I ate my scone and read an archeology magazine. I hiked around for a little while after eating before heading back to the Festival Grounds for The Music Man.


I've never seen The Music Man before. I'm not sure how it escaped me for so long; I go to a lot of musical theatre after all! I knew that the song "Trouble" was from the show, since I've heard parodies of it on The Simpsons and probably a few more places. But I had no idea that the song "Till There Was You" was from the musical. I've loved that song for years; Paul McCartney did a beautiful cover of it back when he was in the Beatles. I was so surprised when Marian started singing it!

Director Bill Rauche (who is also Artistic Director of the entire Festival) believes in colorblind, non-discriminating casting. Most of the time, this isn't a problem, but every once in a while somethign'll crop up that makes you go "Huh?" For example, Marian lives with her mother and her younger brother, right? In this production, Marian is African-American and speaks with a muted-but-present Southern accent. Her mother, speaking in a fine Irish accent, was white. So was little Winthrop, who looked like the poster child of Caucasian middle America. So as I'm watching I keep thinking, " Mariam adopted or what?" but of course you're supposed to suspend belief and just roll with it. I'm bad at that, so I get distracted. If the family had "matched" in appearance or even if their accents would have matched, I think it wouldn't have been a problem. But there just wasn't a familial thread to connect the actors together.

There was also a deaf person in the cast, the first time I've ever seen something like that. (I mean, deaf in a musical? You'd expect there to be some sort of problem...) Marcellus, Harold Hill's reformed friend, communicated exclusively in American sign language, with the other actors interpreting what he 'said' for the audience. In this play, it actually worked pretty well, sometimes making for some very humorous moments. Marcellus' big song in Act II, "Shipoopi" was sung by Ethel Toffelmier, I think (it's hard to tell since the ensemble characters don't really distinguish themselves) and the director made it seem like this character was Marcellus' wife.

The Music Man was really, really fun. Classic Americana, right? I really liked the costumes in this play. At the beginning, all the townspeople are dressed in black and white, but as Harold Hill spreads his music throughout patches of color begin to appear, until by the end everyone's wearing brightly colored clothes. It was inspired by the movie Pleasantville, I think, and was a very effective device in the show.


After the play, we went back to the dorms to eat. Tacos and pizza were on the menu, which was yummy, and the ice cream machines were all broken, which was disappointing because it was HOT.
In the evening we saw the play Don Quixote, which was premiering at Ashland, and was pretty darn entertaining. I raved about it all over the place here:
Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha! Windmill Slayer!

Good times. I did spend part of the day dodging Luigi. He was just a little too friendly, and it was off-putting. He kept mentioning that he wanted to do lunch together, but I have no idea what my schedule for the next few days will be so I didn't commit to anything. I tried really hard not to be rude, but I don't know that I pulled it off effectively. There were a lot of conversations like this:
He (after Don Quixote was over: I'm thinking of walking back to the dorms. It's a beautiful night.
Me: It is a beautiful night. I think I'm going to take the bus, though. I'm wiped out after all that hiking today.
He: Hmmmm...
Me (too quickly, I think): But YOU should walk back. It IS a beautiful night.
He: ...I think I will.
Me: Have fun! See ya!

Tags: ashland, deanza, don quixote, musicals, oregon, shakespeare, vacation

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