I am reading this:
and see the play live at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, a Tony-award winning theater company located in my very own hometown of Cedar City, Utah. (Also, if you are a fan of the show Modern Family, click here and look at the picture on the right. Guess who was Oberon in a previous production of MIDSUMMER? My sister alerted me to this particular piece of fantasticness.)
I love, love, love the Festival. I used to work summers at the gift shop(pe). My grandfather was the president at the college at the Festival’s inception. The longtime director, Fred Adams, was in my ward (church congregation) growing up and has come out of retirement to direct this play, which by all accounts is just gorgeous. He is a wonderful, gregarious artist.
When I was little, we used to go to the free greenshow before the play and watch the performers sing and dance. I remember being delighted when my dad was called out of the audience to play the handsome prince in one of the little plays in the greenshow. He was mortified but went along with it. (If you know my dad, you have an idea of how excruciating this kind of thing would have been for him.) I remember my parents buying me lemon tarts from the ladies who carried them in baskets wrapper in clean white linen.
When I was a little older, my grandmother started taking me to a play each summer. She was an usher at the Festival for many years and I thought her blue and gold Shakespearean gown was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. She would let me look over the list of the plays that were happening that season and choose which one I’d like to see. Then she’d read through the play with me before we went so that I knew what was happening. I simply cannot think of anything more gorgeous than going to Shakespeare on a summer evening in red rock country. It’s been years since I’ve had the chance and I can’t wait. (Many thanks to my good friend Krista Bulloch for making it all happen and organizing the tickets, etc.!)
My favorite Shakespeare play to teach is MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. My favorite to read might be KING LEAR, and I’m not entirely sure why. It just feels so atmospheric and depressing. Which, apparently, I like.
I also have a soft spot for CYMBELINE, which was the first play my grandmother took me to see. The costumes were so beautiful and I was up so late, with the night peeking in above us in the open-air theater.
I wish my grandmother could come with us. She’s almost ninety-five now and not quite up to a play. But she is the one who first took me to the theater on a summer night so I could watch as dreams and stories came to life under the stars.