When home sick with the flu, what is a blogger to do? Finish that travel saga that is taking me, as usual, forever. Interestingly, I do quite well with deadlines for work or for plays that I am working on, but I suck with self-imposed deadlines. I’m still working on a baby blanket for my friend. The baby is now four months old. You get the idea. Anyhow, here’s more on my early-summer excursion up north!
This post is a continuation of the epic Northern California road trip I took in June with my significant other, Zac. To read my previous posts, click the links for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.
When I last wrote, Zac and I had arrived in Ashland. After a night’s rest on Adrian’s futon (a lovely French engineer we found on Couchsurfing) we were ready for all of the tree-lined, dorky Shakespearean fun that the Oregonian town had to offer. Originally, Adrian had convinced us that there was nothing to do in Ashland, and that we ought to go to Crater Lake for the day. But when we realized that it would be a 4 hour round trip to Crater Lake, we just stayed in Ashland. We’d been doing a lot of driving and nature stuff, so it was nice to have a “town” day. I have to admit that after bumming around Ashland for an entire day, we were pretty done with the place, but still had a nice time nonetheless.
Our Ashland Day began across the street from Adrian’s place with a supplies run at Safeway and coffee on the patio of the Boulevard Cafe, the coffee shop connected to the Stratford Inn. There was also a Shrew’s Inn nearby. I tell ya, the Shakespeare-influenced names just don’t stop!
We mozied on downtown, and spent some time poking around the shops. I loved this one antique shop called the Antiquarium. It had a lot of jewelery that reminded me of my grandmother, old matchbooks, postcards, photos, and lots of cool Shakespeare shit, of course. I spent a lot of time looking at old German engravings illustrating scenes from various plays, but didn’t get any. I did buy a fabulous 1960’s dress pattern for $2.50, and Zac got some crazy old postcards with things like mummies and Native American rituals on them.
The other shops we poked in were less memorable. There was the Music Coop that had a limited selection of overpriced records as well as different book stores, but after the last one we both admitted that we were a little burnt out on Ashland and looking at random stores. We took a long, quiet walk in Lithia Park, taking a trail alongside the picturesque river.
When planning our next move, we realized we could still make it to the 4:40 showing of Renoir at the arthouse movie theater. Although we were the only ones in the movie theater who were not senior citizens, it turned out to be a brilliant idea. It was a beautiful movie, and just our thing: a French period piece about the painter Pierre-Auguste Renior at the end of his career, his son Jean Renior not yet at the beginning of his filmaking career, and the model/muse who inspires both. It was lovely to watch, well-made and acted, inspiring, and served as a tonic for our wearing traveling souls.
Seeing an arty French film was also the perfect preshow to The Heart of Robin Hood, the play I had gotten tickets to at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. For those who don’t know, OSF is one of the biggest Shakespeare festivals in the US, if not the world. Since 1935, they have gone through Shakespeare’s entire canon 3 times, and have also been including non-Shakespearean work since 1960. The Heart of Robin Hood is not a Shakespearean play, but really feels like one, as it’s plot follows the formula of Shakespearean “into the wood” romantic comedies like As You Like It. As you’ve probably guessed, it is about Robin Hood, Maid Marion, and the Merry Men, who were never any of Shakespeare’s subjects.
OSF has four different theaters, and The Heart of Robin Hood was in the Elizabethan Theater, an outdoor ampitheater designed to resemble a typical Tudor stage. I’m so glad we got to be in that theater. I freaked out the minute we walked in, it was so amazing. Our seats were great too. We were to the side but on the floor and only four rows away from the stage. That’s close enough to look the actors in the eyes and see them spit all over the stage without being in the splash zone (it’s hard to project your voice to the back of such a massive house without spitting). The set was amazing, and I made Zac sneak lots of photos on his cell phone so I could share with y’all. The play had lots of physical comedy and elements of acrobatics, and the set had ropes and ladders and suspended rings for the actors to swing and climb and play on. There were also various bits of live music, and the actors picked up different instruments hidden around the stage for these moments. All in all, it was an incredible piece of live theater and everything I wanted it to be. I could go on and on about it forever, but suffice it to say that I was captivated the entire time and inspired to do amazing things with my own theater career. I really want to be part of a company that’s as professional and amazing as OSF. It was completely worth the $50 ticket price.
After the play, it was time for a drink! We almost went to a British-themed bar called the Black Sheep, but ultimately felt that the newly-opened Oberon’s Tavern would be more of our scene. The minute we walked in, it was obvious that this was the place for us. What’s not to love about a Shakespeare-themed, Rennaissance Faire-esque bar with costumed staff who spontaneously shout “Huzzah!” They had draft beer as well as wine and mead, a Celtic/folk musician in the front room and games in the back room. We both got a pint of the vanilla porter, which was pretty cheap, and it wasn’t long before a nice, mustachioed employee in a blue venveteen shirt roped us into a game of Cards Against Humanity, the un-PC version of Apples to Apples.
The night ended with a quiet hangout back at Adrian’s place. Before too long it was time for bed after a long, hot day of Ashland and Shakespeare.
Good Luck and Happy Travels,