“Oh you, so perfect, so peerless, are created of every creature’s best,” David as Fernando to Deedie as Miranda at the turning point in The Tempest.
Miranda replies, “The jewel in my dower. I would not want anyone in the world but you. Do you love me?”
“I beyond all limit of what else in the world do love, prize and honor you.”
Just picture it. There we were, David on his knee and I with a flower in my hand ready to give him. Along with 100 or so others participants on the 10-day Shakespeare at Sea program aboard the MS Rotterdam last month, this was a highlight for us. Sailing from Athens to Istanbul and up the Turkish coast one adventure after another unfolded.
It was the wonderful European honeymoon we did not have 50 years ago, when two stops across the state of Pennsylvania had to suffice.
We wish more of you were among the OSF stalwarts on this trip. It was eye-opening, instructive, challenging and fun to be with some of OSF’s great performers and staffers, not to mention a choice group of like-minded people.
The OSF program included:
- Daily lectures by OSF’s dramaturg Dr. Lue Douthit on the history of theatre starting with the Greeks, of course. A brilliant teacher and as wise as Aristotle (who was the very first dramaturg), we learned from her how today’s theatre came to be what it is and how many of its foundations are still firmly rooted in Greek history. As a fulltime dramaturg unparalleled in her field Lue deconstructs and builds simultaneously, pointing out over and over again the major role theatre has played in our collective lives. She’s fabulous and we were lucky to have her on this trip.
- Rex Young’s thrilling delivery of the famous treatise against war from The Iliad had us all riveted one evening. A well-deserved standing ovation ensued.
- Mark Bedard and Rex giving us a lesson on the elements of humor – why something works and why it doesn’t. Just as they were talking about how it’s necessary to set up a scene so it can be funny, the Captain of the ship interrupted with the evening’s sailing schedule. Uproarious laughter. Once the Captain finished, Rex started again, explaining timing is everything. Mark nods enthusiastically, and with that the intercom came on again. Cruise Director Brent hoping we were having a nice time. We were. Chortling.
A bravo performance by Miriam Laube of a scene from Antigone in the ancient outdoor theatre at Priene, with the rest of us, Greek chorus style, filling in the scene setting lines. Miriam’s performance, with echoes from the stone seats and back wall, was chilling. It’s a moment none of us will forget.
- Songs of past and future OSF productions presented the last night of the trip by Marian, Emily Knapp and new husband Mark.
- Backstage at the Boarshead…The process OSF uses to select each season’s roster of plays got its name from the tavern in Henry IV, Part 2. A group of about 60 folks, with representatives from nearly every OSF office, is assembled to do the reading of literally hundreds of plays each year. Executive Director Cynthia Rider, Emily and Dr. Lue described how smoothly this seeming unwieldy process works in preparation for small groups of us to gather in build our own season – taking into account what’s been done in the past, what will appeal to students, what will be a blockbuster, what the royalties are, what works best in the Elizabethan, new plays, and so on…the list is endless. We said we wanted South Pacific and that someone should be put to work adapting a few Canterbury Tales.
- A preview of the 2014 season, about which you can read in a separate post.
Before we sailed, we had three days to explore Athens and afterward spent a fortnight in Italy exploring Rome, Florence and Sorrento. This was our first foray on Italian soil, but we surely hope there’ll be a second and third.
Daughter Lucy treated us to a special early bird tour of the Vatican that allowed us to view the Sistine Chapel for 20 minutes practically by ourselves. A passionate student of art history and the Catholic church, there was only time for our guide to share a mere measure of his knowledge in the four hours we spent with him. We came away with many insights and factoids, realizing that one tour was not enough. You might be interested to know that Michaelangelo did not do his work lying on his back – he used ladders he designed.
The lavish Renaissance art, whether in paintings, ceilings, frescoes or chandeliers left us a little dizzy. For a change, we forsook museums once or twice to return to the ruins of the Colosseum and then to Pompeii. Sorrento, a small and beautiful coastal city was our jumping off for the latter. Two hours into our tour, we admitted to each other that we’d had our fill of ruins for one trip, erotic frescoes notwithstanding!
Thankfully we are not counting ourselves as ruins despite a very long trip, and are busy preparing for a wonderful Christmas season with friends and family. The town of Ashland’s brilliant illumination with literally a million lights nourishes all in the midst of cold and dreary darkness.
Our forecast calls for a quiet January as we head into mid-February’s start of the 2014 OSF season which promises to be enlightening and entertaining. Our thirteenth!
This comes to one and all brimful with joy and thanks for your ongoing loyalty,
Deedie and David Runkel