As You Like It
A friendship rediscovered is a rare treasure. I recently reconnected with a friend from my Sunday School teacher days. Susan and I were recruited as teachers, not for our Bible knowledge or our skills with children, but because our kids wouldn't stop crying when we tried to attend services upstairs.
To celebrate our recent reunion, Susan and I decided to attend our local Shakespeare in the Park production. Our husbands were not interested. Recoiling in horror might be too strong to describe their reactions to being invited, but not by much. I have wanted to go for several summers, and somehow it never happens. I was not going to miss it again this year.
The play was everything you'd expect from homegrown theater. I was impressed with some brilliant performances, but what we talked about most on the way home were the bits of side entertainment.
The play took place at the Rock Ledge Ranch, an historic homestead in Colorado Springs. As we walked into the park, we noted the strong odor coming from the barn. I do not mind the smell of livestock. In fact, it added a bit of realism to hearing the Bard's work. Surely manure was one of the sweeter odors to be experienced back in Shakespeare's day.
We have enjoyed an unusually rainy summer. This made the park brilliantly green and lush (for Colorado), but it also created a large, murky puddle outside the tent. A walkway had been erected to traverse the swamp, as we affectionately dubbed it after several crossings.
As we retrieved our tickets from the will call booth, the helpful young women gave us tokens. "Since you paid full price, you get a free dinner." We inquired about this dinner, and learned it was a hot dog. Both of us are vegetarians. Somehow we had expected a wet bar and choice snacks. This was Shakespeare after all. We noted the audience of older, prosperous citizens. Definitely not a hot dog and soda pop crowd. And then we noted all the wiser folks who had smuggled in booze. Well, we know for next time.
At intermission, we emerged from the tent in darkness. We followed the crowd of slow moving seniors to the restrooms. As we returned, the play had already begun again. We had to wait outside, straddling the swamp, until we were allowed reentry. Seriously. They send the old folks tottering through the dark a quarter mile to the restroom and back, and expect a twenty minute intermission to suffice?
As we hustled to our seats, there was a commotion on the top row. Bleachers of a sort rose up several levels. Folding metal chairs perched in rows. As someone hurried to his or her seat, a miscalculation apparently caused hindquarters to miss chair. Susan and I believe the person was rescued by his or her companions before falling out the back of the tent. At any rate, no ambulance showed up. I can't say for certain, but I'm guessing this group was one of those who smuggled in their own wine.
One highlight for both of us was realizing we could still understand Shakespearean-era English. It took a few minutes, but we got up to speed quickly. As You Like It contained plenty of humor, some of it bawdy, as well as serious reflection, and fight scenes that looked painful.
Local theater is an experience not to be missed. The sets and costumes were creatively thrifty, and the venue fraught with issues. That was what made it such a fun experience for me. There was nothing slick about the tent in a pasture. The performance itself commanded all my attention. Will I brave the inconveniences to do this again? You bet!
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