Thursday, August 13, 2009

Theme Thursday: Festival, A Memory

How perfect that this week's theme is Festival, right at the 40th anniversary of Woodstock! I was 1, when Woodstock took place so I have no memory of it. But I'm sure I'm in good company with some people who actually attended the event and may have smoked something other than cigarettes.

I'm not making any accusations.

But I do have memories, many memories about another festival: The Champlain Shakespeare Festival, which ran in Burlington, VT during the summer for 18 years. (The poster below is for a festival before my time).

As a child, I attended several of the productions. Often, I would arrive early (usually with my mother or perhaps my Godmother) and watch the free performance that took place outside of the theater. We would read the summary of the play so we would know what was going on. I remember attending a production of Measure of Measure and not understanding it even after reading the summary. I'm still not sure if I know what's going on in that one.

In high school, I ushered at CSF during the summer and got to see the shows over and over again for free. One summer, they mounted Henry VI with both parts sort of mushed together. I'll never forget the battle scenes which seem to take place all over the stage and in audience. One night, I was closing my eyes in the lobby during the show, when an actor suggested that I go home and let the other ushers clean up. I couldn't leave, I didn't want to leave, how could I leave? I loved it there. Of course, now, I look back, after spending many, many late nights in theater and I wonder why I didn't leave.

Royall Tyler Theater:

The summer of my freshman year, I worked at the Festival as an intern. I attended UVM, studying theater, and CSF took place right there at Royall Tyler Theater. Up until that summer, I wanted to be the next Katharine Hepburn, not understanding that there can only be one Katharine Hepburn. But during that summer, I was assigned to assistant stage manage Romeo and Juliet. I never looked back. I kept thinking, I want to be the Stage Manager, I want to sit at the desk and call breaks, and be the director's right hand person, and know everything that's going on.

The rest I guess is history, as I fulfilled that dream of being the director's right hand person (although I'm still not sure that I know everything that's going on). Next Spring, The Arden is mounting a production of Romeo and Juliet and I get to be the stage manager this time. I'm tickled pink to be revisiting that play as the stage manager this time.

Sadly, the Champlain Shakespeare Festival came to end as all festivals do. But, like everyone else who attended a favorite festival, we all have our memories. Unless of course you were smoking something; again, I'm not making any accusations.


  1. Hmm... I think you're accusing something.

    "Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace!"

  2. for some reason you dropped off my cool to be going back in the role you desired...i promise i never inhaled...

  3. You're a lucky thing to b able to do something you love and get paid for it. I love the theatre, sadly it's a bit expensive these days and I rarely go!

  4. It is so great to see someones dreams come true. And I too have always liked Shakespeare, even though I have not always understood it all. There is just something about his plays that no one has ever seemed to match. Romeo and Juliet rock. I think you will have a lot of fun with that one. Oh and maybe you did not leave cause you knew that place would be a part of your future.

    Oh and I am not saying I ever smoked anything, nope not saying at all. But I am so glad I never got in the habit of smoking cigarettes. I guess my aversion to it was because we grew up in a cloud of smoke. All the adults smoked constantly and we truly had a cloud around us. I am surprised they could see out the car windows due to the cloud inside. And the stench in the house from the dirty ashtrays. I am so glad I never smoked. Well I did try it a few times, but I coughed so much that I almost choked. So smoking was not for me. Now I am thankful.

    God bless.

  5. I'm sorry the festival is no longer, but so wonderful that you have these memories and that you followed your dream! Cheers!

    Many years ago (when we had more money!) my mother and I had season tickets to the Pasadena Playhouse. Oh, such fun.

  6. Congrats on being made stage manager! And I looked at the dates; could be doable if ever I'm in Philly( ooh, haven't been there since '95! )

  7. Thanks everyone. And I have to say that yeah, theater is expensive! I try to get comps whenever I venture outside the Arden or at least Industry Tickets - cheaper tickets for those in the union. Memories are great though aren't they? I love how they weave in and out of our lives.

    Subtrop77 - if you are in Philly, let me know, I can get comps!

  8. Kate, how did I miss this TT post? Love Shakespeare. Cool poster from 1976. WT was in theater in college and we used to do participate in some Shakespearean festivals in the 70's. Love-love Philly. My daughter just graduated from AVA last may. She lived in the Rittenhouse area.

  9. Willow: Rittenhouse? That's such a nice area. Funny, the husband and I are going there tonight (a last date before my rehearsals for History Boys start).