1999 Ashland Journal
The Elizabethan Theatre
I live about 420 miles from Ashland, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
has been held annually for the last 64 years. I've wanted to visit the
festival for the past 20 or so years, but being habitually short of funds,
due to the necessity of maintaining my wastrel existence, I've never been
able to afford it. This year, deciding that I'm not going to live forever,
I put away a few hundred dollars (and pulled out a couple of well-used
credit cards), and bought some tickets and made motel reservations back in
June for a vacation this August. Here are my journal entries from my trip:
August 17, 1999
I've made it to Ashland. My car didn't, but I did. The trany went out on
the Beast (a 1975 Dodge Charger) at Springfield, and I had to leave it at
the local AAMCO shop and rent a Ford extended cab pick-up (the only vehicle
left on the lot) for the last couple of hundred miles. I checked into the
motel ("tastefully" decorated with faux Tudor-style timbers) at about 9:00
pm, then drove into town to find some dinner.
After a short walk to familiarize myself with the layout of the theatres at
the Shakespeare Center, I settled on the Black Sheep for dinner. An
upstairs English-style pub, the Black Sheep served an excellent shepherd's
pie and had plenty of Guinness stout on tap.
Mindful that I was driving a rented vehicle, I limited the intake of stout,
left a generous tip for the young punkish (though friendly)
waitress/bartender (who bore a passing resemblance to Winona Ryder), and
returned to my motel--where I collapsed after the day's ordeal.
Tomorrow--Othello and King Henry IV, pt. 2.
August 18, 1999
What a wonderful day. I slept fitfully last night--anxious for today's
plays, so I didn't arise until after 10:00 o'clock. After a quick shower, I
dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and drove the three miles into town--parking
at an out-of-the way spot where I could leave the truck all day.
Not having bothered with the motel's free breakfast (and having arisen too
late for it anyway), I indulged in a tall mocha and a chocolate chip
cookie--the Northwest power breakfast--at the local Starbucks. I had
brought along an Elizabethan mystery, The Silent Woman, by Edward Marston,
and read a couple of chapters over my mocha to get myself in the proper
frame of mind.
Since the first play didn't start until 2:00 pm, I had a couple of hours to
kill, so I toured some of the local bookshops. Seeing many volumes that I
wanted, but not wanting to be weighted down with merchandise, I made mental
notes of where to return later.
Finally, it was time to head for the theatre--my first play being Othello at
the Angus Bowmer Theatre. I had an excellent seat, about five rows back,
and the theatre quickly filled to capacity.
About ten minutes before curtain
time the actors playing Othello and Desdemona came out in silk robes and
kneeled on the stage, as in a Japanese Noh drama, while tense music played
over the sound system. The buzz of the audience continued while the house
lights were up, with little heed being paid to the actors onstage--though an
elderly lady sitting next to me expressed some confusion regarding the early
presence of the two leads.
For me, the music and unmoving solemnity of the actors heightened my
feelings of tension, and when the lights went dim, followed by an explosion
of lights and activity on stage, I felt a great release of emotion.
Until now, Othello hasn't been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, though
I've seen it in performance and on film a number of times. As with most of
Shakespeare's tragic heroes, I find myself wanting to slap the man and shout
out that if only he'd open his eyes to what's going on around him the damn
play could have a happy ending for a change. I did enjoy Orson Welles'
movie of Othello, though more for Welles' direction and acting than for love
of the story, and I once saw the Seattle Opera stage a fine production of
Verdi's Otello, but the play has always remained a second stringer in my
list of Shakespearean favorites. Again, until now.
Desdemona (Amy Cronise) and Othello (Derrick Lee Weeden)
For now I have seen an Othello that stirred me to the very core. Watching the
disintegration of the proud warrior Othello, as portrayed by Derrick Lee
Weeden, at the hands of one of the most, nay, the most effective Iago I have
ever seen (played to perfection by Anthony Heald) was perhaps the most gut
wrenching experience I've ever had while attending a play. I felt Othello's
growing doubt and jealousy in my soul, awakening memories of every unhappy
love affair I've ever experienced.
The increasing confusion, desperation, and fear of Desdemona, as played by
Amy Cronise, made her so much more than the simple victim of Iago's
machinations and Othello's uncontrollable passion.
Also worthy of note were Andrew Borba's priggish Cassio, John Pribyl's
tragically duped Roderigo, and Robynn Rodriguez's loyal Aemilia.
Othello (Derrick Lee Weeden) and Iago (Anthony Heald)
The simple sets served to focus the action of this intensely physical
production, and I felt the play fully deserved the standing ovation granted
by the audience at its conclusion.
One thing I did find a bit distracting was that Derek Lee Weeden's deeply
passionate delivery of his lines seemed to produce an inexhaustible spray of
spittle that caught me fearing for the soggy effects on his fellow actors.
I also made the mistake of calling my mechanic about my disabled car during
the first intermission (not being able to reach him earlier in the day), and
then found my mind wandering a bit at the beginning of the second act as I
tried to think of ways to come up with the $1,240 necessary to have my
transmission rebuilt. After I settled on a temporary solution of
over-strained credit cards and post-dated check, I was again free to devote
the full measure of attention the play deserved.
Following the prolonged standing ovation at the play's conclusion, I filed
out of the theatre with the rest of the audience into the hot southern
With about three hours to the next play, I stopped off at the Black Sheep
again for a pint of stout and another look at the pierced goddess behind the
bar. Deciding that I should try a variety of dinner venues on my vacation,
I declined her offer of a menu and went up the street a couple of doors
after I finished my beer to try dinner at a place called Alex's Plaza
Restaurant & Bar--another second floor eatery. The dining room was full, so
I took a seat in the bar--a brick-lined room with an intentionally poor copy
of a Gericault painting of a cavalier above the fireplace.
Though it took a while to be served, the rib steak, mashed potatoes, lacy
fried onion rings, and pepper stir fry was quite good. Another couple of
beers didn't hurt either.
After dinner I took a short walk in the park along Ashland Creek to clear my
head of the effects of the alcohol and as an aid to digestion, then made my
way to the Elizabethan Theatre for the evening's performance of King Henry
IV, part 2.
The Elizabethan Theatre started out as an open-air stage backed with an
Elizabethan-style tiring house, inner stage, chamber, balcony, and huts with
a Greek theater-style auditorium--but the recent addition of a roofed
balcony for the audience rising above the auditorium--linking up with the
stage wings on either side, has turned it into a modern-day version of
Shakespeare's wooden O.
As the sky darkened, two great flashes exploded on stage and the play was
Though mostly a traditional staging, the costume design included soldiers in
modern uniforms at the beginning of the play. Another element borrowed from
tradition was that the female roles were played by men, which added a degree
of hilarity to the scenes involving Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet, but
produced some unwanted laughs in the scene with the Earl of Northumberland,
his wife, and daughter-in-law (a scene further marred by the untimely
passage of a low-flying airplane--a distraction with which Shakespeare was
never forced to contend).
Ken Albers made a perfect Sir John Falstaff, with a rich baritone voice and
a wonderful command of the role.
Dan Donohue was a fine Prince Hal, Michael Elich (with an outrageously
improbable pimpled proboscis) was an amusing Bardolph, G. Valmont Thomas
played a delightfully over-the-top Mistress Quickly--ably matched by David
Kelly's amorous Doll. Ken LaRon made a right-swaggering Pistol in his few
brief scenes, John Pribyl played a convincing Shallow, and Ned Schmidtke a
sympathetically troubled King Henry IV.
King Henry IV, pt. 2
Hal (Dan Donohue), Doll Tearsheet (David Kelly), and Mistress Quickly (G. Valmont Thomas)
King Henry IV, pt. 2
Sir John Falstaff (Ken Albers)
Of course, the centerpiece of the play was Ken Albers' portrayal of
Falstaff. Though he didn't surpass the Falstaff of Orson Welles in Chimes
at Midnight, or of Anthony Quayle in the BBC production of KH4, he
certainly held his own in this august company--and he'll be one of the
personifications I'll see in my mind's eye as I re-read KH4 in the future.
Apparently the audience in the Elizabethan Theatre isn't as prone to
standing ovations, because although the applause was enthusiastic at the
play's conclusion, no one rose from their seats until after the actors had
exited the stage.
I'm now back at my motel, and it's just after 2:00 am. I have Pericles and
Ibsen's Rosmersholm waiting for me on the morrow, so now to bed.
August 19, 1999
Another day, another two plays. Arising somewhat late once more, I stole
down to the motel's free breakfast bar only to find that it had been closed
for about two hours. Apparently I interrupted some sort of employee
training session as I poked my head in looking for something to eat. The
meeting's facilitator graciously allowed me to fill a bowl with raison bran,
then directed me to the front desk where I was able to cadge a glass of milk
to pour over it.
After a hurried breakfast in my room, I called the AAMCO mechanic to confirm
the order for the transmission rebuild, and learned that a post-dated check
probably wouldn't get my car back after all--and by-the-way, the estimate
had risen to $1300, provided that I wanted to replace the damaged mount that
had been discovered when they removed the transmission. Sure, I said, why
not--figuring that since I didn't have $1240, I could just as easily not
Trying to think of some way to get enough money to get out of Oregon, I
called the two banks that had issued the credit cards I had brought with me
to see if I could get them to raise my limit. I wasn't sure how much I'd
need, but I decided to ask for an additional $1000 on the theory that you
should always ask for more than you need. I met with a stony refusal from
the first bank (and learned a few disquieting things about my credit
report), but the other said they'd consider an emergency request and I could
check back with them after 7:00 pm that night.
As it was approaching noon, I made my way down to my rental pick-up truck
(which I must also come up with a way to pay for) and drove into town.
I hit a couple more bookstores that I had missed yesterday, and found
another couple of volumes that interested me, but they began to look
increasingly unaffordable, given my embarrassed financial situation.
Returning to the Shakespeare Center plaza, I saw Derek Lee Weeden,
yesterday's Othello, talking to a small group of senior citizens. As he
exchanged pleasantries with them, I walked over and listened to a couple of
the older ladies tell him about nearly every past performance they had ever
seen of Othello, and how much they all thought his performance had been the
best. An elderly gentleman asked about Mr. Weeden's well developed muscles
that had been so prominently displayed in yesterday's performance, and the
actor allowed the old guy to run his hand along the muscles of his back.
I waited politely until the group moved on, then shook Mr. Weeden's hand
and did a bit of gushing of my own. Before things got too embarrassing, a
lady came for him and he excused himself, at which point I ambled over to
the Angus Bowmer Theatre for the afternoon's performance of Pericles.
I had thought Pericles to be rather an odd choice for staging by the
festival--the first two acts are a mess (and may not have been written by
Shakespeare), and what's left is more a series of incidents than a coherent
story--but I remember enjoying the BBC production, and was curious to see
how it would be staged here.
As I took my seat (14 rows back, in the middle of the last row), I saw that
the stage was diamond shaped, with the far two sides having a backdrop made
up of what looked like floor-to-ceiling hammered copper panels, and the two
forward edges of the stage descending in stairs to the auditorium floor.
The stairs led to two runways opening under the auditorium, from which
actors had come and gone in yesterday's performance of Othello.
In the center of the stage were a number of poles, crowned with skulls with
red streamers hanging down.
Finally, the house lights went down and the play commenced. The stage
lights came up to reveal a chorus dressed in ancient Greek attire and
wearing theatrical masks. As the chorus began to sing the lines given to
Gower in the play, I realized that Gower had been replaced, but quickly
decided I liked the innovation. Keeping with the theme, the entire
production was done in ancient Greek costume.
Pericles (Richard Howard) surrounded by Greek chorus
As the chorus concluded the opening narration, three of its members pulled
off their masks and robes to reveal Antiochus, his daughter, and Pericles.
Antiochus and his daughter went through a dumb show while the chorus
described their incestuous relations, and then ran off the stage through an
opening made by two of the copper panels pivoting in such a way as to create
an opening in the back (the panels were pivoted into various positions
throughout the play to represent scene changes). Then, Pericles, standing
at extreme stage right, began speaking his opening lines.
Pericles was played by Richard Howard, who delivered his lines well and did
a fine job of acting, but whose physique struck me as being a bit scrawny
for the role of a Grecian hero-king.
The actors playing Antiochus and his daughter performed their roles well,
but their characters are rather weak, and their story is a dead-end. They
disappear after the first act, and are not referred to after the
announcement of their death by the chorus at the beginning of the third act.
The death sentence ordered by Antiochus when he discovers that Pericles has
learned of his incestuous relations with his daughter does serve, however,
to propel Pericles' flight in the second act, where he is washed ashore in
Pentapolis. The three fishermen who find him were boisterously portrayed by
Wrick Jones, Joel D. Moore, and Alex Robertson. They accompanied Pericles
to the court of King Simonides, exuberantly portrayed by the actor who had
played Mistress Quickly in last night's KH4, G. Valmont Thomas.
The tilt in honor of Simonides daughter, Thaisa, played by the beautiful
Vilma Silva, was a slow-motion stylized dance in which the rusty armor-clad
Pericles vanquished the other contending knights. A nice touch was having
the three fishermen hoist Pericles onto their shoulders and bear him off in
triumph while loudly chanting "the mean knight."
As the next scene opened, Pericles was borne into the banquet hall by the same
three fishermen, still shouting "the mean knight". Setting him down,
they took their humble places at the foot of the stairs, joined by Pericles
as the meal began.
The fun in this scene was watching the expansive King Simonides maneuver his
daughter into the arms of Pericles, then watching him slyly encourage their
love in the next scene leading to their betrothal.
Following the chorus at the beginning of the third act, Pericles found
himself once more in a storm at sea, this time apparently losing his wife,
Thaisa, in childbirth. After the wife is cast overboard in a conveniently
water-tight casket, Pericles leaves his newborn daughter with Cleon,
Governor of Tarsus, and his wife, who Pericles had incidentally saved at the
end of the first act when he had brought a load of grain to their starving
country [I warned you that the first and second acts were a bit of a mess].
Meanwhile, Thaisa washes ashore and is brought back to life by the Healer of
Ephesus, Cerimon, portrayed in this production by Andrea Frye as an Earth
mother-type Wicca, who packs Thaisa off to the temple of Diana.
Next thing we know, Pericles' daughter, Marina, well played by a buxom Jodi
Somers, is a young adult who is outshining her childhood chum, Philemon
(played by Andrea Kate Harris), the daughter of Governor Cleon and his wife,
Dionyza. This annoys Dionyza (played malevolently by Demetra Pittman), who
uses her feminine wiles to convince a shady character named Leonine to kill
But Leonine botches the job when Marina is kidnapped before his eyes by
three pirates, who turn around and sell her to the owners of a bawdy house.
Meanwhile, however, Leonine has told Dionyza that Marina is dead, and Cleon
breaks the news to Pericles when he shows up for her later.
Back at the bawdy house, the bawd (played in an abrasively humorous manner
by Catherine Lynn Davis), the Pander (played by a feckless Armando Duran),
and Boult (played by a barely dressed Kevin Kenerly) are horrified as Marina
chastely begins to convert the bawdy house's customers to the path of
Marina then persuades Boult, who was intent on deflowering her, to use some
money given to her by one of her converted customers, Lysimachus, the
Governor of Mytilene, to win her freedom.
About this time a barge shows up bearing a catatonic Pericles and his trusty
lieutenant, Helicanus (who was ably played by Jonathon Adams). Lysimachus,
now romantically attached to Marina, brings her on board to see what she can
do with the insensible Pericles.
Pericles' dawning recognition that Marina is the daughter he thought dead,
and the joy and wonder expressed between father and daughter, never fails to
bring tears to my eyes (in a Steven Spielbergian sort of way), and this
production was no exception.
I was still a bit misty as Pericles had his dream of the goddess Diana
telling him to go to Ephesus, where there is yet another happy meeting
The play brought the audience to its feet for another well-deserved standing
ovation. Pericles may well be one of Shakespeare's most difficult plays,
but the OSF has succeeded in making it a memorable event. Although parts of
the play don't read very well when you're sitting in an easy chair back
home, this production was extremely entertaining.
After the play, I took a book over to the Standing Stone Brew-pub and spent
an hour or so over a beer or two. Then I made my way back to the Black
Sheep, where I was disappointed to see that the pierced goddess was gone, it
apparently being her day off. In her place was a shapely, closely-cropped
strawberry blonde in a tight little black dress that revealed a number of
She wasn't quite as friendly as the other young lady, but I have a thing for
haughty blondes, so I had another beer and decided to ignore my resolve to
try a variety of restaurants and ordered a shepherd's pie for dinner--having
enjoyed the one I had on my first night in Ashland.
The Black Sheep Pub
This is me, ready to understudy The Fourth Knight in Pericles, should the need arise
After dinner I went over to the Black Swan, an intimate theatre seating
about 150 people, for the evening's performance of Ibsen's Rosmersholm
(which is a whole lot easier to pronounce once you realize that it
apparently means something like "Rosmer's Home").
I had been expecting the role of John Rosmer to be portrayed by Anthony
Heald, the forceful Iago from yesterday's Othello, but was disappointed to
learn that he had taken ill. Instead, the role was to be
understudied by Bill Geisslinger.
The play opened with a strong performance by Robin Goodrin Nordli in the
role of Rebecca West, who was soon joined by the equally talented Richard
Farrell in the role of Rector Kroll.
Rebecca West (Robin Goodrin Nordli) and Rector Kroll (Richard Farrell)
There were a few uncomfortable titters from the audience when Bill
Geisslinger came onstage, as he had apparently not been given the time to
learn his lines, and read them from pages he carried throughout the
performance. He seemed to be a very good actor, and he did well given the
circumstances, but the performance was a bit spoilt by this distraction.
Also noteworthy were the performances of Ulrick Brendel by Sandy McCallum
and the stalwart housekeeper by Eileen DeSandre (though she somewhat flubbed
a key line at the end of the play).
As for the play itself, it was what I'd expect from an Ibsen play--the
politics were as outdated as the morality. The character interaction was
very good, but the play ended in death and futility.
Only the strong performances by Robin Goodrin Nordli and Richard Farrell, and
the short appearance by the delightful Sandy McCallum, made the evening
worthwhile. I can only imagine what the play might have been could the
talented Anthony Heald have been available.
After the play I called my bank and learned that my credit limit had been
extended by $500. It's less than I had hoped for, but it might just be
enough to get me home--though I can't help but think of the observation made
by Mr. Micawber to David Copperfield, when he said, "Annual income twenty
pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual
income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result
misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes
down upon the dreary scene, and--and in short you are for ever floored."
As I prepared for bed, it wasn't quite clear to me yet whether my visit to
Ashland would result in happiness or end in misery.
Tomorrow, the concluding play on my schedule: Much Ado About Nothing.
August 20, 1999
I had decided to skip an afternoon play on my last full day in Ashland, so I
spent the forenoon and early afternoon taking some photographs, visiting the
OSF Exhibit Center, and reading a few more chapters of Edward Marston's The
As with every day on this trip, the sky was clear and the thermometer peaked
in the mid-90s. I spent some time in the park along Ashland Creek, and
watched young children splashing among the gentle falls.
Pond (The Elizabethan Theatre in background)
The Elizabethan Stage
Towards evening I turned back to the Black Sheep for dinner. The pierced
one was still absent, but yesterday's close-cropped blonde was waiting
tables, so I settled in a comfy chair near the (unlit) fireplace and asked
her to bring me a Guinness. I read from my book as I slowly drained the
first pint, then moved to a table to order some dinner.
The table I selected was waited on by a willowy blonde with an abbreviated
top and a slender ring piercing her left nostril. She had a bit of a
disdainful air, but if there's one thing I like more than haughty blondes,
its haughty willowy blondes, so I resolved to leave her a generous tip.
For my last supper in Ashland, I chose a robustly flavored steak and kidney
pie with a delicately flaky crust, and washed it down with a couple more
pints of stout.
After dinner I went back to the Shakespeare Center to watch the Green Show.
Performed on an open-air stage between the Elizabethan Theatre and the box
office, today's Green Show was Mucho Ruido para Nada, with Spanish
Renaissance music played on traditional instruments by the Terra Nova
Consort and ballroom dancing by Dance Kaleidoscope. The dancing was
energetic, the music was impressive, and the crowd was pleased.
Following the Green Show, the crowd filed into the Elizabethan Theatre for
the evening's performance of Much Ado About Nothing.
The Elizabethan stage had been garlanded with vines and flowers, and an
arbor arched over the center of the stage, all to represent the garden of
Leonato's house, where the majority of the play took place. Perhaps only to
justify the tango and other neoclassical Spanish dances in the play, the
scene was set in Argentina in the early part of this century. The costuming
was beautiful, and perhaps in a nod to the traditionalists in the audience,
the masked ball was held in Elizabethan costume.
The center of any production of MAAN revolves around the interplay between
Benedick and Beatrice, and this production is graced with a very strong pair
played by Elizabeth Norment and Mark Murphey.
Elizabeth Norment is an attractive, angular beauty with a sharp delivery and
a range of expressions and fieriness that strongly reminded me of Maureen
O'Hara in The Quiet Man and McLintock!
Mark Murphy was a perfect match for her as Benedick--sharply handsome with a
sardonic air that softened believingly as he fell in love with his Beatrice.
Much Ado About Nothing
Beatrice (Elizabeth Norment) and Benedick (Mark Murphey)
Much Ado About Nothing
Claudio (Leith Burke) and Hero (Melany Bell)
Leith Burke made a suave dupe as Claudio, Ned Schmidke (a sickly King Henry
IV the other night) played a Don Pedro that was reminiscent of a combination
of Jose Ferrer and Cesar Romero, and Tony DeBruno was a bald, middle-class
looking gentleman who seemed to have stepped out of an old sitcom for his
role as Hero's father, Leonato. Melany Bell made a lithe and attractive
Hero and Deidrie Henry made a truly beautiful Margaret. Michael Elich
played Don John as an aloof martinet, Dan Donohue (Prince Hal from KH4)
played a dastardly, though ultimately repentant, Borachio, Charlie Kimball
had an excellent singing voice as Balthasar, and David Kelly made a
surprisingly commanding Friar Francis (especially remarkable given his
earlier performance as Doll Tearsheet).
The entire production seemed flawless, with a highpoint of hilarity being
the scene where Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato dissemble to convince the
supposedly hidden Benedick that Beatrice is in love with him. It was a very
physical scene, with Benedick skulking about the stage, easily followed by
Don Pedro and his two companions as they play out their act for his benefit.
At one point, Benedick climbs to the top of the arbor and loses his
footing--one leg thrusting through the lattice-work. His deceivers
comically pretend not to notice, with Leonato humorously hesitating over his
part and Claudio comically overplaying his. The entire scene is somewhat
echoed later as Beatrice is similarly worked upon by her friends.
Of course, the most broadly inspired lunacy is provided by Dogberry and the
Watch. Dogberry was captured brilliantly by Sandy McCallum, who had played
the alcoholic pedant in last night's Rosmersholm. A short, elderly
gentleman with white hair and a short beard, and with a face that pleasingly
reminded me of an old hound, Sandy McCallum spouted Dogberry's malapropisms
with infectious enthusiasm, and visibly swelled with pride as he
misunderstood rebukes for praise. He was ably supported by Richard Farrell
as a slender, bedraggled, and ancient Verges, Charlie Bachmann as a rotund
and mustachioed George Seacole, and J.P. Phillips (who had played a sober
Archbishop in KH4) as a timorously brave Walter Worthy. Hugh Oatcake was
played by a buxom young lady named Carolyn Hitt--with hair pulled back, a
false mustache and a beard--who spoke in a gravelly voice.
Much Ado About Nothing
Verges (Richard Farrell), George Seacole (Charlie Bachmann), and Dogberry (Sandy McCallum)
The Watch jumped, saluted, and ta-do ta-dooed at the slightest provocation,
and made amusing use of an oversize basket as a prop.
McCallum's Dogberry was so amusing that his part had been padded a bit for
the audience's benefit. For example, the part of the Messager popping up at
the end of the play to announce the capture of Don John was replaced by the
Watch bringing in the chagrined and bound bastard brother, which gave
Dogberry the opportunity to indulge in some additional un-Shakespearean,
though crowd-pleasing, malapropisms.
The play ended with a rousing tango, which allowed the audience to catch
some quick glimpses of Ms. Norment's shapely legs (at least that's what I
was looking at), and the audience responded with enthusiastic applause as
the stage lights went dim.
As I walked back to my rental truck in the mercifully cool night air, I
thought over the plays I had seen on this trip, and was pleased that each
one of them--even the difficult and somewhat marred Rosmersholm--had been
truly enjoyable experiences. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival thoroughly
deserves its outstanding reputation, and I resolved to return again in the
August 21, 1999
I arose at 6:00 am, having only slept a couple of hours last night, because
I had to get the truck back to the rental agency before it closed at noon
(this being a Saturday) and Springfield was three hours away.
I had packed most of my stuff the night before, so after a quick shower I
loaded up the truck and went to the desk to check out. I had a moment of
anxiety as I wondered whether I had enough credit left on one of my cards to
pay the bill, but it turned out that the expenditure had already been
approved when I checked in. I felt a sense of relief, because it meant that
I had enough in my checking account, when combined with the extended credit
limit I had been able to negotiate (okay, beg for) from the other bank, to
pay for the rental truck and redeem the Beast from the Springfield AAMCO.
The AAMCO shop was closed on Saturday, but the extremely helpful mechanic
who had rebuilt my transmission had agreed to come in on his day off so I
could pick up my car, and had given me his home phone number so I could call
him when I arrived in Springfield.
I was a bit apprehensive about the long drive home--about seven hours--after
so little sleep last night, but the rental had air conditioning so I could
keep cool air blowing in my face, and I cranked up the tunes on the radio
and made a few stops for coffee. The Beast has 2-70 air conditioning,
meaning that you roll the two windows down and drive 70 mph. In any event,
I arrived home safely at about 3:30 pm, having stopped along the way for
breakfast and lunch, and spending about an hour in Springfield to conclude
my business there.
I'm tired, and a bit more financially strapped than usual, but I had a great
vacation and had seen some wonderful plays.
Narrative and original photos © 1999 by Clark J. Holloway.