Some of you reading this probably hate Shakespeare. I can understand that; reading a Shakespeare play is not the most fun thing in the world. Watching a well-produced play, however, is one of the most fun things in the world, in my opinion, at least. And when I talk about well-produced Shakespeare, I mean plays at the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Last Tuesday, I had the chance to join seven other Beacons on a field trip led by Dr. Lanta Davis to see The Comedy of Errors at the Festival.
This was a particularly momentous trip for me for a couple of reasons. First, it was my fifth consecutive year attending the festival. When I went for the first time at the beginning of my junior year in high school, I made the absurdly ambitious life goal of attending 75 consecutive festivals. My first year was the 74th of OSF and I want to attend the 150th with the knowledge that I have been to over half of them, so my 5th year mean I’m 1/15th of the way there. Second, I have seen about twelve of Shakespeare’s plays and every one of them has been my first exposure to that play. I might know the basic synopsis, but sometimes when the dialogue gets tricky, I’ll lose track of what’s going on. With one exception; I have not only read Comedy of Errors before, but it’s also the only play I’ve ever acted in. I was in a Shakespeare in the Park production of it a few summers ago. Seeing scenes I actually had memorized was a totally different experience from what I usually see.
The play itself centers around two sets of identical twins that were separated at birth. One half of the twins happen to arrive in the town where the other half lives and all kinds of mistaken identity shenanigans ensue. This particular production was set in the Harlem Renaissance. It was set in the fifties when I was in it. You may recognize both of these as not the time in which Shakespeare originally set them. That’s one of my favorite things about Shakespeare: you can watch ten productions of the same play and they’ll all have a different interpretation. I might be a little bit biased, but I think Ashland and its festival are some coolest places to visit. I highly recommend trying it at least once. Dr. Davis hopes to offer more trips in the future if you think this sounds like something you want to do.