Well, the trip to Ashland was amazing. The focus of the trip was to see plays put on as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and I saw three of the best productions I'll probably ever see: Hamlet, Ruined, and She Loves Me.
Most people are probably at least passingly familar with Hamlet. I don't think I've ever seen or read the whole thing, but I certainly knew the gist of it. This production was stellar. It was set in somewhat modern times, and the traveling theater crew performed the play-within-a-play as a hip-hop troupe; all the characters seemed totally modern and understandable though they used the original language. The actor who performed as Hamlet was amazing. I'd seen him as Iago last year, and he was good in it, but he really was transcendant this year.
Ruined is a 2009 Pulitzer-prize-winning play about the effects of the war in the Congo on civilians, especially the women. It was riveting, and disturbing, and moving, and so powerful - everything I want theater performance to be!
Finishing the weekend with an exuberant musical was a perfect way to close it out. She Loves Me premiered in 1963 and the story itself has a long history, starting as a play by a Hungarian author in the 1930s, then becoming a movie in 1940 (The Shop Around the Corner), a movie musical in 1949 (In the Good Old Summertime), and most recently being produced as the 1998 Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, You've Got Mail. I actually saw the musical before, but remembered little, and this staging was SO well done - funny, charming, and clever.
So, I'm back from vacation but not ready to go to work. Alas, my job awaits, so I'll get back to it tomorrow.