Next: England’s Magnificent Gardens, by Roderick Floud

Shakespeare, writing between 1590 and 1612, does not mention “peach” except as a colour . . .

England’s Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today, p. 7

Cellpic Sunday

Another photo challenge!

This one is loose: any picture taken with your cell. The host is Journeys with Johnbo.

Here are self’s fridge magnets. Shakespeare rules!

October Squares Challenge: Past-Squares

There are many ways to interpret this month’s Squares Challenge, Past-Squares. Self will confine herself to just one interpretation, this whole month of October:

  • Have fun with the word ‘past’ by sharing squares of history and heritage, and that includes past holidays!

Summer is over, but Cal Shakes came back with a vengeance, staging an adaptation of The Winter’s Tale that quite took self’s breath away. She went to see it three separate times in September: two Sunday matinees, and one Saturday night performance. The final performance is tomorrow night. WAAAAH! September moved by too quickly.

See you next year, Bruns Amphitheatre!

Now Reading

Even though self just started reading (last night), she likes the characters already, and that means she’s probably going to enjoy finding out what happens to them. It helps to know the FORMULA, because that is the only way self can stand reading about two likeable people who do not see what is right in front of their noses. Self is not against formula, as long as the writer keeps it fresh.

Take Shakespeare. She can take any Shakespeare, as long as it’s done with energy. Her first Shakespeare at The Globe in London was Titus Andronicus. Buckets of gore, in that one. People walking out, clutching their stomachs. LOVED! And this last Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale at Cal Shakes. She saw it three times. It was absolutely the highlight of her year. Some snob over at Facebook said it looked “awful.” Good! Stay away! Don’t take a seat away from someone who might love it!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quotes of the Day: The Winter’s Tale

“Go rot! Dost thou think I am so muddy?” — Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Self grew to love Shakespeare only in middle age, and that was entirely because of Cal Shakes, which is in self’s humble opinion the Bay Area’s best theater company. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her first Cal Shakes play was Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo was played by ADAM SCOTT.

Since then, Cal Shakes has become firmly fixed as a rite of summer. Last year they were forced to cancel their entire season and lay off two-thirds of their full-time staff. This year, they came back with one play, The Winter’s Tale.

As soon as it was announced, self e-mailed son. She couldn’t believe it when he said right off that he would pass. Pass? How could he? He practically grew up with Cal Shakes! She used to bring carloads of his friends here! Of course, they’re all married now, but still!

She ended up seeing it with a friend, while it was still in previews. Before seeing it Sept. 12, self had never read the play, didn’t know anything about the play, would probably have gone through the rest of her life not giving a hoot about the play. Then, she saw it. Ummm. She sat stupefieadd and amazed for three hours. How stupefied and amazed? Exactly one week later she was back, by herself. By then, she’d already begun reading a hefty novel called The Slaughterman’s Daughter. She lugged it along, and remained in her seat through intermission, reading.

What’s really good about seeing a play alone is: you can eavesdrop. The person to her left (separated by two seats) was a woman perhaps a decade older than self, who’d come alone, and was wearing the cutest gold sandals. To her right was a family with teen-age girls, who were at Bruns for the first time, probably just to see what all the fuss was all about.

The parents were sitting immediately to self’s right, the daughters several rows behind. At intermission, the mother went to check on the girls. When she came back, the girls were trailing her. The mother told her husband:

“You know what, I just realized everyone thinks the King is an idiot.”

Daughter: “That’s cause he IS.”

Onward!

Self could remember so many more lines, after watching The Winter’s Tale a second time:

“Good Queen, my Lord. GOOD Queen.”

“Gross hag!”

“Oh! She is warm!”

But her favorite line is the last: Hermione tells a repentant Leontes, “Let’s from this place.” And with that, the play ends. If anyone had told self a week ago that she would end up shipping Hermione/Leontes, she would have said, Get out!

This adaptation of The Winter’s Tale was by Cal Shakes Director Eric Ting and Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Kudos.

Her love for Cal Shakes is undiminished.

Stay tuned.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #165: GOING WIDE

LOOOOVE this prompt. Simply love.

Thank you, P.A. Moed.

Yesterday, self was at Cal Shakes’ only production for 2021: The Winter’s Tale. Last year they were forced to cancel their entire season. Wanted to weep.

But whoa, what a way to make a comeback: The Winter’s Tale is ace.

Picnic Grove Next to Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda

Cal Shakes’s Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly leading the post-play discussion.

The Thrill of Anticipation! Audience files into Bruns Amphitheatre to see Cal Shakes’s first production in two years!

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Tuesday Photo Challenge: FANTASY

Fascinating Tuesday Photo Challenge!

Here are self’s three takes on the theme of FANTASY:

Picture # 1: Waiting for the start of Macbeth in Cal Shakes’ last production of the 2019 season. “When Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane …” What’s not to love about the Weird Sisters? About the preening ambiton of Lady Macbeth? Self adores Shakespeare.

Picture # 2: Waterstones Oxford celebrates Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Vol. 2 of the Book of Dust, which takes Lyra Bellacqua of His Dark Materials and turns her into Lyra Silverstone — self picking up her copy today. So excited!

Picture # 3: London’s Knightsbridge, near Fortnum & Mason. Ready for Christmas, in mid-November. Window-shopping is de rigueur.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg, on MACBETH

Never, ever miss a Cal Shakes Grove Talk. Self has been to a few of these, all delivered by Philippa Kelly, and each is enthralling. Kelly is a superb speaker. She ties in history, puts the play in context, and makes the playgoing experience so rich!

Self learned yesterday that Macbeth was written in 1606.

1606

She was reminded that a boy played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s time. Imagine lines like “Milk my breast” from the lips of a boy! Plus the high voice! Self thought about this while observing Liz Sklar’s performance as Lady Macbeth — that is a powerful role that demands an actor equally powerful. A boy just doesn’t cut it.

This evening, self is reading Kelly’s essay in the program brochure. The essay’s title is Can We Forgive Ourselves?

  • Actions can be imagined; but “if it (is) done when ’tis done,” an action has consequences — and if we are thinking and feeling beings, consequences can’t be ignored.

After listening to Kelly, self saw the play as a true horror story. Macbeth and his wife see ghosts everywhere. At the start of the play, they are young and beautiful. By its end they’ve both been driven round the bend. And it is TRAGIC.

Self realizes she has never, ever seen young Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. Until yesterday. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but Liz Sklar’s Lady Macbeth is LIT!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lens Artists Challenge # 65: PICK A PLACE

  • “Each of us at some point has visited a place that holds special memories.” — Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 65

This was an easy post for self to write. She just got back from attending Cal Shakes’ Macbeth. The Grove Talk by Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg is a Don’t-Miss.

20190929_152049

Philippa Kelly Giving Her Grove Talk, Before MACBETH

Have been watching plays here every summer since 2001 (Romeo and Juliet: Adam Scott played Romeo).

Tonight’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were played by a couple who suddenly put everything into a new light. All hail, Rey Lucas and Liz Sklar, for bringing the sexy back to a play first performed in 1606. These two are the youngest actors self has ever seen play Mr. and Mrs. Spot-on, the casting! For the first time, self understood the heat between the two;  she could see the similarities to film noir. In addition, because self and her party were seated third row from the stage, she could see every change of expression on the actors’ faces; it felt so intimate.

Also, for the first time ever, self heard Macbeth call someone a “whey-face.” lol lol lol

Her one complaint might be that The Weird Sisters were not witchy. Or not witchy enough. Of course self got very excited at hearing the immortal lines: Double double, toil and trouble. She just wishes there were an actual cauldron.

She wonders if there was ever a production where The Weird Sisters were replaced by giant hand puppets. During intermission, she eavesdropped on the people behind her who were describing a performance of Macbeth at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “There was a big pool of blood right in the center of the stage. And whenever a character did something bloody, they would supply themselves from the pool.”

That, in self’s humble opinion, sounds gimmicky to the extreme.

Philippa Kelly’s pre-show Grove Talk was fascinating — self wished she took notes. It revolved around the unmasking of identity, and how paradoxical it is that when people remark that “someone has changed” it usually means that the person’s true identity is finally being unmasked and undone.

Gregory also made self aware of the fact that the first actor to play Lady Macbeth was a boy, because back then women were banned from taking roles in the theater.  Women’s parts were played by boys whose voices hadn’t yet broken. Has there even been a modern staging of Macbeth where they use a boy for Lady Macbeth? She thinks not, but it would certainly give the play a whole new spin.

P.S. The Bruns Amphitheater was FREEZING and self needed to rent blankets. Her lips got totally chapped and her hands were frozen. For some reason, all self had on was a denim jacket and a scarf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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