Monday, September 21, 2015

Back from Stratford (2nd trip)

I think it will be several days, perhaps even the weekend, before I can fully unload and put down all my impressions of the trip to Stratford and the 3 plays I saw. Sometimes you don't even know what you thought about a play (or a particular production of a play) until you have a chance to think it over in your mind. I suppose only Possible Worlds was truly thought-provoking, whereas with Love's Labor's Lost and She Stoops to Conquer, it is more about whether the production held together and if the themes were well presented.

I also ended up talking for over an hour to the co-owner of the bed and breakfast where I stayed. On the plus side, he had lots of inside knowledge. I didn't even realize that William Shatner had actually been in the first* company (he was Christopher Plummer's understudy in fact) and stayed on for another 2 seasons, which makes him Stratford royalty in the same way that Timothy Findley was. I had thought they gave him a star, just because he is such a big name and had occasionally acted here. Shows that you don't always know as much as you think you know...

The down side of the talk is that some of the ideas I had about comparing Stratford to Niagara-on-the-Lake have already been covered by Ryerson students. But maybe that is ok in its own way, as I doubt very much I ever could find the time to tackle it properly. Anyway, it was a good talk, which also covered quite a bit of dramatic theory as well as what contemporary theatre companies must do to stay viable. I'll try to put down some of the core ideas another time.

This time around, the books I picked weren't as rewarding. I really found myself uninterested in Chaudhuri's The Immortals and bailed on it within a few pages. I then turned to Clarice Lispector's Água Viva, but this is one of those plotless, internal monologues, and not nearly as interesting as Hardwick's Sleepless Nights (though I didn't really like that one that much either). I did manage to get through it, but I didn't like it at all.

I definitely like Stratford as a town, though there really is no point in imaging retiring here.  I would be too bored all the time, and then there would be seasons (like next season) where I only really want to see a handful of shows, and then I would be trying to reverse commute out to Toronto to see all the interesting plays.  But it is fun coming down for a weekend or two and trying to relax.  I suspect that is something I will do better after I retire.  (This time around I worked a bit and felt guilty for not doing more...)

Anyway, the traffic coming back was quite heavy and the bus ride was not smooth.  It probably didn't help that I was reading a fairly "heavy" book -- Marie-Claire Blais's Mad Shadows, which I'll try to review tonight.  We got back in 30 minutes late, but I'm sure I would have been even more stressed had I been the one responsible for the driving.  All in all, it was a successful weekend, though not particularly restful.

* Apparently my source was somewhat off on the dates.  Shatner was not in the inaugural season, but the 2nd through 4th seasons.  He actually had some decent parts in those years, not just spear carrier...  According to Playbill, he played Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew, Lucius in Julius Caesar, Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice and Gloucester in Henry V (in addition to being Plummer's understudy), as well as a few other roles.

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