Utah Shakespeare

The summer season of the wonderful Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City is well underway, but there is plenty of time to add it to your vacation itinerary. This year’s selection includes Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all perennial favorites. You may also enjoy Shakespeare in Love, an adaptation of the movie and a regional premier. Other regional premiers are Treasure Island and William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged).

On the musical side of the house is the great Guys and Dolls, subtitled A Musical Fable of Broadway. Finally, there are two world premieres, The Tavern, a comedy by George M. Cohan adapted and directed by Joseph Hanreddy, and How to Fight Loneliness by Neil LaBute, characterized as “for mature audiences”. Two of our favorites return as directors, Brian Vaughn with Shakespeare in Love and David Ivers with How to Fight Loneliness.

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The Utah festival produces consistently excellent theater. You cannot go wrong in this beautiful mountain setting, about a 50 minute drive from St. George or three and half hours from Salt Lake City. The summer season goes through September 9th, with a shorter fall season running from September 13th through October 21st.

For schedule details and to reserve tickets, go to:

https://www.bard.org/

 

Also an enticing peek at next year:

2018 will see performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Othello, as well as Big River, a musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn with music by Roger Miller, bound to be a delight.

 

Best Wishes.

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What We’re Doing When We Think We’re Doing Nothing

What We’re Doing When We Think We’re Doing Nothing

Tim Miller has written a very nice, insightful discussion that relates to the overall purpose of life as a time to learn, to grow, to become more than we were before.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Or to paraphrase David O. McKay, it is what you are thinking about (and I would add, doing) when nobody is watching that reveals who and what you really are (and determines what you will become).

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I’ve always liked it that the actor Richard Burton could admit in his diaries: “I am fascinated by the idea of something but its execution bores me.” And this from the guy who played Hamlet (and whoever else) a million times.

But there’s something to it for those of us who’ll never play Hamlet, or ever publish a novel, since even those who have seem to have an inkling of a different kind of fulfillment. In our especially “results driven” time where so much can be quantified with disturbing exactness, the idea that it’s the process that matters and not the outcome is pretty staggering, even to the point of not caring if there’s an outcome at all.

In this way it’s wonderful to think of Burton preparing to play Hamlet, and doing everything from imagining how to put himself in the mind of the Dane; or being aware of…

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Understanding Propaganda

The disgusting bias of the major news media in the recent election may give us pause to consider the difference between journalism and propaganda.

Those of a certain age will recall classes in school–yes, public schools–about how Nazis and Communists and other -ists manipulate their messages to mislead the masses. That was during the height of the cold war and was important so the American people could more easily discern truth from error. More recent generations have not been given such information, just as they have long since stopped hiding under desks during air-raid warnings.

In the end, all such tools, just as the -isms which use them, are means to a common end: the exercise of power by one group over another. This was one of the themes of my book, All Enlisted, and is perhaps the dominant theme of all history.

An excellent review of how journalism becomes corrupted follows:

http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/21/journalism-turns-propaganda/

 

A Bit of Doggerel

Writing radiology reports all day and realizing that some poor fellow out there will have to read them, one can’t help but want to simplify things. That should mean shorter, more direct and specific words as well as shorter sentences, even fragments. But linguistic habits are hard to break. I find one phrase and word particularly annoying, namely, “osseous structures” and “osseous”, meaning “bones” or “bony” respectively.

 

Osseous Structures

 

My colleagues like the Latin word osseous,

Which I think sounds too ostentateous.

It seems quite preposeous to use that word osseous;

It makes me feel downright pomposseous.

 

I prefer the Germanic word bony,

Which sounds to my ear much less phony.

 

But diction is a sensitive matter,

We all prefer to hear flatter,

Pet words fill heads hegemoniously,

And criticism’s heard acrimoniously.

So this rhyme is meant only gently,

To suggest an edit more aptly,

Suited for reading more simply.

 

I persuaded me, and now perhaps thee,

But how to convince all and each crony?

 

 

Best Wishes.

 

“All the world’s a Stage,” but some stages are better than others: Returning to Shakespeare in Utah

Lisa and I first attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah, in 2003 on the recommendation of a friend. (It was called The Utah Shakespearean Festival in those days. I am glad they dropped the –an, which always bothered me. I usually dropped it myself anyway.) We were pleased at the consistently high level of professional theater we found there and promptly became area representatives for the Festival, those local people who talk it up when they can and distribute brochures with schedules and so forth. We went every year for a time, but the last few years work schedules prevented us until this past week: Ah! What a delight to be back!

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Again for logistical reasons, our playlist consisted only of comedies this year (we skipped Julius Caesar and Henry V) namely: Murder For Two, a wonderful production consisting of only two highly talented and versatile actors, one of whom in his time plays many parts; Mary Poppins, featuring excellent music and two remarkable 9 year olds playing the Banks children, and yes, Mary does a fine job of flying; The Three Musketeers, a well condensed edition of the swashbuckling novel; The Cocoanuts, a recent revival of the hilarious Marx Brothers/Irving Berlin musical filled with sight gags and puns (Aristotle notwithstanding, they are very funny); and Much Ado About Nothing, a perennial favorite, very well done and always a joy. Though quite different, the performances were uniformly excellent.

This is the inaugural year of the new Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which houses the Utah Shakespeare Festival on the edge of Southern Utah University campus. It includes the Anes Studio Theatre, an intimate venue for theater in the round and experimental productions; the Jones Theatre, equipped with all the tools any stage manager and director could desire; and the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, recreating the feel of the 17th century without the smells. The latter replaces the Adams Memorial Shakespeare Theater, the future of which is unclear. Dear to our hearts, we walked around the old theater and recalled the happy and inspiring times we experienced there, one of which was meeting Fred Adams, the founder of the Festival whose vision led audiences from a temporary wooden platform on the grass in 1962 to the Adams Theater in the 1970s and now to the Sorenson Center. Well done Professor Adams!

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One regret. We missed seeing The Odd Couple, a Neil Simon play starring two of our favorites, David Ivers and Brian Vaughn. It will run September 14-October 22. They are artistic directors now, but we first saw them as actors in 2003 when both played in Much Ado About Nothing. We were immediately taken with their talent. In The Odd Couple they will alternate between the roles of sloppy Oscar and neat Felix, one night playing one, the next night the other. Hmm. Perhaps we will have to find a way to make a run to Cedar in the Fall. For at least two nights.

This is the 400th anniversary of cousin Will’s death. We are grateful his spiritual descendants are alive and well. For more information on the Utah Shakespeare Festival, go to http://www.bard.org/

 

Best Wishes.

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