The Play’s The Thing (And More)

March 8, 2008

in Trip Blog Posts

  • SumoMe

Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival never fails to awe us with its high quality performances of plays by “The Bard’ and other famous (along with some “newly minted” not-so-famous-yet) playwrights. This year we’re returning to Ashland for four nights and three plays. While we often visit in mid-summer, this year we’ll be heading to Oregon in mid-September when the weather will probably be a bit cooler than it normally is during July and August, and when there are fewer tourists in town and not as many cars zipping up and down I-5.

While we often stay in “downtown” Ashland, last summer we bunked a short distance north of the city center at the Lithia Springs Inn and liked it so well that we’ve booked a two-room suite with a Jacuzzi tub there again for this trip. The theaters and restaurants are only five minutes away by car, the setting is peaceful, and the full breakfast is tasty.

The evening (Tuesday, September 16th) that we arrive in Ashland we’ll sit out under the stars and watch Shakespeare’s Othello, a play that we’ve never seen (or saw so long ago that we can’t remember it), unfold on the Elizabethan Stage.

For the first time ever (we think), OSF is presenting a play from outside of Western theater tradition — The Clay Cart. Here’s how the Festival describes the work: “Bursting with music and dance, color, action, and romance, this 2,000-year-old Indian classic—utterly Shakespearean in spirit—proves that great storytelling transcends the centuries. Jewels are stolen. A Brahmin faces execution. A beautiful courtesan is at the mercy of the King’s bad-boy brother. Journey through a world where gamblers, holy men, political fugitives and royal scoundrels intersect and good people triumph.”

The final play on our list for this season is a comedy called Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner which takes place in “a culture in which addictions and obsessions—food, shopping, sex, etc.—are part of the societal malaise” and will be performed in Ashland’s newest theater (appropriately enough called “The New Theater”).

We often add a “side trip” to our journeys to Ashland. Last year we headed out to Gold Beach on the Oregon coast and then south through the redwood forests to the Eureka area before returning home.

This year we’ll leave Ashland on Saturday, September 20th and drive a couple of hours north and east to Crater Lake National Park. The lake lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, created when the 12,000 foot high Mount Mazama collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption. Generous amounts of winter snow, averaging 533 inches per year, supply the lake with water. There are no inlets or outlets to the lake. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the deepest in the United States.

We stayed at Crater Lake Lodge, built right on the rim of the caldera, during our first trip to the park in 1973 (also the first year in which we attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland). The original lodge was in danger of falling to pieces, but after an extensive renovation and refit, it reopened and we’ve booked a lake view room for our three night stay. Looking down into the lake from above, especially in the early morning or late afternoon when the wind is scant, is like gazing down into a huge, huge and very, very blue barrel of rainwater.

In September of 1992 we spent a couple of nights at Crater Lake (alas, we had to stay in the “No-Tell Mo-Tel” called the Mazama Village Motor Inn located at the “bottom of the hill” and well away from the breathtaking caldera views) during a trip that took us north to Bend, east to Fossil Beds National Monument and the little town of John Day, and then back south to the Steens Mountains in the high desert of southeastern Oregon. We had all four seasons during the week-plus trip, which started in Fall when we arrived at Crater Lake, quickly became Winter, then Spring, and finally Summer, all during our short stay in the park.

In July of 1996 we arrived in Ashland during a heat wave (lucky for us, we were staying in the pleasantly cool climate high above the town at the Mt. Ashland Inn, one of the best B&B’s we’ve ever stayed at) which came to an abrupt end as a unseasonable storm from well to the north swept across the state turning the weather from warm and sunny as we left Ashland to cloudy and rainy by the time we had passed Medford an hour later. Our planned picnic lunch was left stashed in the trunk of the car as we made our way uphill in the rain to the rim of Crater Lake and a welcome hot meal at an indoor restaurant. Snowflakes were wafting through the air as we drove the rim drive above the lake and headed out of the park to our next stop at Elk Lake near Bend.

So as in years past, when we travel to Ashland this fall, we’ll toss our “Oregon Bag” (hats, gloves, rain gear, long underwear, shorts, sandals, swimsuits, umbrellas, etc.) into the car knowing that the only thing that is certain about Oregon weather is that there will be some (of one kind or another).

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