I cannot believe I drove an hour and a half, starting out at 4 pm on a stormy Sunday afternoon when I would normally be kicking back in my pajamas, headed north across a floating bridge and on into elk country. By myself. With only one purpose in mind!
To watch a performance?
Surely there are plays being held closer. A movie show? A TV program? Something on YouTube that could entertain me for a couple of hours.
I must be getting finicky in my old age, for in my mind, and in my heart, nothing competes with an open air production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights’ Dream.
And last night was the very last performance in an lovely setting in the woods and meadow by the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s Theater.
As I walked down the magical trail leading to the meadow I was guided into another place in time. Spread out before me were both audience and players, fairies and nymphs, lovers and sorcerers. Because of the drive, I was late, and so arrived shortly before intermission. Which gave me a chance to read what director Anna Anderson wrote in the program. Tears came to my eyes, I was so moved by her discourse. With her permission, I wanted to share it with you.
Generations of students have asked this question as they waded through page after page of unfamiliar phrasing. Audiences ask it as they prepare to endure long incomprehensible hours of high-brow culture.
High-brow, cultured poets asked it 400 years ago, when a provincial nobody with relatively little education swept into London and stole their thunder!
The Elizabethans considered live entertainment to be anything but high-brow. It was the sitcom and soap opera of the Renaissance; all cheap laughs and gory thrills. Old stories were endlessly regurgitated, old conventions were tirelessly followed, and writers dreamed of leaving it all behind to write epic poetry for the upper class. Then, much as Walt Disney transformed the fairy tale, William Shakespeare transformed the old, tired stories. He elevated what was a purely commercial form of entertainment into an art, without sacrificing even one of those cheap laughs or gory thrills. He was a rule breaker, a game changer, a man with truly staggering insight into human behavior.
Why Shakespeare? Because Shakespeare created characters that actors dream of playing!
Shakespeare crafted stories that directors long to bring to life!
And when experienced as they were meant to be, in a live setting, Shakespeare’s plays can be pure, living magic!
So now, relax and let the language and the silliness wash over you, and join the thousands upon thousands of audiences who, for over 4 centuries, have been transported into the vibrant, magical world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!” -Anna Anderson, director Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.
I hope to see, hear, witness, experience more Shakespearean performances in the near future. There’s nothing quite like it! Thank you Anna Andersen!