Twenty years ago, in July of 1991, The Colonial Theater of Westerly, Rhode Island, began presenting its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My mother had died only a few weeks earlier, and after seeing an article in the newspaper about the free performances, Tim & I decided we should go. We loved every minute of it, cuddled under the stars in our beach chairs on the lawn of beautiful Wilcox Park. Seeing these plays became one of the highlights of our year, a dearly loved tradition.
For the 15th season, in 2005, the theater presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream again, much to our delight! And I loved these words found in the program that year:
The mix of illusion and reality that runs through the play is also a particularly relevant theme at this time. For this is at the heart of what we do each year. With your participation, we visit people and worlds where the normal, earthbound laws of physics no longer apply. … Not only is the play filled throughout with the imagery of dreams, but Puck even addresses the audience at the play’s close with the advice that if they’ve not been pleased with what they’ve seen, they should just tell themselves that they’ve been dreaming, and will wake up with nothing lost. And what’s to say that we haven’t been dreaming while this parade of characters has performed across the stretch of our imagination? ~ Harland Meltzer, Producing Artistic Director, Colonial Theater
Over the years we’ve been to almost every play, except for the few times there was no play due to lack of funding. It’s free, but the theater counts on donations to make it each year. Besides making donations ourselves, Tim buys a coffee cup each year and as you imagine, has a large collection now.
This year the play chosen was The Tempest, which was put on for the second time, the first time being in 1992. After watching the weather report we decided that Wednesday was the best night to catch it. We went early in the afternoon to stake out our spot, and then returned in the evening, found a good parking spot, walked to a restaurant for dinner and then walked back to the park for the play. Even though I had my exercise ball to sit on, perhaps all the walking and sitting in the restaurant had taken its toll because I was uncomfortable almost immediately. And Tim was not feeling well due to moving around in the heat and humidity – it’s hard on his heart. Both of us sat there miserably until the intermission, wondering if the other would mind leaving early, something we had never ever done before. When intermission came we took one look at each other and knew with very little verbal communication how things stood. We quietly gathered up our things and left…
For future reference I’m listing all of Shakespeare’s plays we’ve seen by this theater group at Wilcox Park:
1991 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1992 – Tempest 1993 – As You Like It 1996 – Romeo & Juliet 1996 – Julius Caesar (performed by the visiting Anglian Open Air Shakespeare Company) 1997 – Twelfth Night 1998 – Othello 1999 – Taming of the Shrew 2000 – Henry IV, Part I 2001 – Hamlet 2003 – Merchant of Venice 2004 – Much Ado About Nothing 2005 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2006 – Romeo & Juliet 2008 – As You Like It 2009 – Two Gentlemen of Verona 2011 – Tempest (until intermission)
There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago. ~ J. Robert Oppenheimer (Pearls of Wisdom)
I don’t want to sound too cosmic or anything… but I think that music is a spiritual experience. … Music is true. An octave is a mathematical reality. So is a 5th. So is a major 7th cord. And I have the feeling that these have emotional meanings to us, not only because we’re taught that a major 7th is warm and fuzzy and a diminished is sort of threatening and dark, but also because they actually do have these meanings. It’s almost like it’s a language that’s not a matter of our choosing. It’s a truth. The laws of physics apply to music, and music follows that. So it really lifts us out of this subjective, opinionated human position and drops us into the cosmic picture just like that. ~ James Taylor (Performing Songwriter, May 2002)