In Favor of Theater
First, some context: From The Washington Post: Theater is in freefall, and the pandemic isn’t the only thing to blame. I place this in light of the woes that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is going through, as mentioned in that article. And indeed, it’s not just the pandemic. For OSF, it was the Almeda Fire of 2020, and it was the smoke filled skies in the Pacific Northwest last year that cancelled so many outdoor performances on the Elizabethan Stage. It was the cracked main load beam in the Angus Bowmar a decade ago that had that venue closed for most of a season. The hits kept coming, and the budgets kept getting slimmer – and OSF is a top tier regional company. They’re hurting, and trying to keep going. A bunch of small companies haven’t survived.
It isn’t just that the options for live theater are shrinking as time goes on – small and regional theatres are the talent pipeline for Broadway and world stages. If you have a company in your area, and if you love theatre, support them, go to see the shows, even (or especially) if the shows go outside your comfort zone.
We were in Ashland and saw three of the five shows on offer this year: Three Musketeers, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet. Wonderful productions, adapted and interpreted with an eye towards racial injustice and bias in our culture. That last part apparently puts some segment of the OSF traditional demographic off their feed, and vocally, too. Black adaptations (Three Musketeers) and staging/interpretations (Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet) brought light to new facets of these jewels – they aren’t diminished: they’re wonderful and make us squirm a bit, and think a bit, and feel some things that might not have been felt with traditional staging and interpretation.
When venues like OSF are staging five productions, where 10 or 11 a season were the norm, you know that the smaller companies are teetering on the brink of extinction. Love your local and regional theaters. Support and attend your local and regional theaters. Or they’ll be gone. Live theater is a gift to give yourselves and your family.
The reason we were in Ashland was to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Our honeymoon was there, in 1998. And this trip was a joy, as have been all of the years we’ve shared together already, and the years we have in front of us.
Enough fun and sermonizing. But that all needed saying. Be well, y’all.