Ashland is a friendly town, a throw-back to the Cleaver’s America, really. It has 20,000 residents and a lot of transient students and tourists, but people are still welcome to stop over without an invitation. Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s company are part of the town folk. They show up in coffee houses, bars, and at friend’s small dinner parties.
When we walked into our Ashland friend’s house earlier this week to participate in an intimate wine swilling evening, two of the guests were young actors. Nice, friendly, bright 20-somethings. One of them is an OSF company member this season who has small speaking parts. We’ve seen him in plays and enjoy his company at the dining table.
Other OSF actors are likely to show up as fellow invitees to summer BBQ’s or cocktail hours. One of our fellow “same time next year” guests at the B&B goes drinking with one OSF lead actor and gets check-in cell phone calls from another.
Ashland is, in short, a very small world. It’s a small world of interesting people. I like and enjoy participating in this world.
I wonder at this community as I recall snarling at a friend of mine that reviews plays in The City. “How come you didn’t warn me how bad that play was?” I remember asking. “There was nothing redeeming about the performance, but your article was filled with compliments on the scenery and vague hints that the acting or plot could have been stronger.”
“I know these people,” my friend replied. “I need to be able to talk with them and find out things about their next show.” He explained that he tried only to give constructive criticism, from the perspective of a friend.
After enjoying Ashland and writing for blog, I understand. I feel a tug to mitigate my naturally bitchy, er…, witty comments. I recall a go-out-of-your-way phone call from James Edmonson a few years back, and feel ungrateful for sharing my unpleasant comments about his direction of Dr. Faustus.
But, I cannot give up on bitchiness yet. Forgive me (or not), Jim, Libby, Kevin, G. Val, Kyle, and others. I am an un-educated, non-theater-major low-level OSF subscriber. A good part of my ticket’s worth is in being able to react and comment on the production. When I am offensive and talk about actors running senseless puppy laps around the stage (as I said about an actor in OSF’s ill-fated Macbeth), I’ll consider a complaint valid only if it says that I didn’t spell the actor’s name correctly.