Thursday, May 29, 2014

No Words

We attended a post-show discussion and had the opportunity to ask
Alonso, King of Wales, some questions!
As a regularly excessively expressive person, being rendered speechless is a rare occasion. Yet when asked to describe my experience in Ashland, all I can do is smile and reminisce. Never would I have guessed that leaving Ashland would be so difficult. Never did I imagine I would willingly wake up at 5 AM to go jogging outside-- exercising during a vacation! And yet on the second day of our Ashland adventure, a group of students who normally find it a challenge to wake up at 7 AM for school jogged through the town and into the wilderness of Lithia Park. And had I not left Ashland for a school Band trip to Disneyland, I surely would have sat on one of the Columbia hotel's fluffy couches and refused to leave.

Ashland is a town straight from a novel. The quiet suburban community with a genuine old-town ambiance is a real treat and fresh break from congested concrete jungles. What's not to love about antique book shops, comic shops with impressively varied and affordable merchandise, and food shops ranging from organic ice cream parlors to literally underground restaurants. For the price of a school lunch I could buy a cinnamon role literally the size of my face!

The plays were entertaining and enlightening. Before each performance we had a group session of answering assigned questions pertaining to the work we were about to watch. Afterwards we experienced bafflement, suspense, and laughter from the performances which varied from modern (A Wrinkle in Time), to dramatic (The Tempest), to haunting(The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window), to comedic(Cocoanuts). As expected the actors were very talented, and their skills were especially highlighted in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window because of the rapidly oscillating emotional extremes. The romantic comedy rapidly deteriorated to tragedy, and as the characters' lives fall apart viewers find themselves just wishing the plunging roller coaster would end. But despite the psychological whiplash, the work was enjoyable and undeniably praiseworthy. Cocoanuts was the only interactive play and a fitting send-off for the music students who left Ashland early to join the music trip to Disneyland. Audience members participated in an "auction" and likely gained a quantity of abdominal muscle from all the jokes and other antics, which kept us laughing even after the trip had ended.

There is not a drop of exaggeration when I say I will definitely return to Ashland. The plays, delectable foods, abundant nature, and tax-free comic books are more than enough to call me back. This has truly changed my life.

Selfie with the Oregon ducks!

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Yesterday began with a group jog from the hotel through winding trails of Lithia Park. Steering clear of poison oak, we explored, befriended ducks, and saw a blue heron. The squirrels here are grey rather than brown, and everything is so clean. The people are friendly and the lack of tax makes everything better.

"The Tempest" was a more serious play than "A Wrinkle in Time", but still had moments of humor. Few props were used, and instead four men would pose as a table or a rock. Honestly they were my favorite characters; they did not speak, but moved slowly or rapidly with minimal movements to exaggerate the emotions and actions of other characters. We stayed after the show for a post discussion meeting, and learned about theatre and acting from one of the performers. Even more exciting was that we caught one of the actors outside and had a nice little conversation!

"The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window" took everyone by surprise but was much more thought-provoking. Racism, political corruption, fractured marriage, and prostitution were all incorporated. What started as a hilarious comedy that drew tears of mirth, rapidly spiraled into a dark revelation of human nature.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lithia Park

First Night

My excitement upon arriving in Ashland, Oregon can only be compared to the jubilance of a child receiving the perfect Christmas present. Familiar sights as Starbucks and Subway are lost in the shadows of new, shiny spectacles. Cozy little shops line clean compact streets, and the hard, unnatural glare of industrial cities is pleasantly absent.

Ashland has an old-town feeling that tickles my inner child and the comprehensive atmosphere seems like something out of a novel. Modest boutiques snuggle together, offering anything from retro collectibles to fine jewels. Coffe shops are easy to find, but the more adventurous will be pleasantly surprised by underground eateries. A one minute walk from our temporary residence, the Columbia Hotel, leads to an enjoyable underground Thai restaurant with great food and service.

The hotel itself is a time warp from modern day commercial hotels to Victorian England. Smaller than a Motel 6, the Columbia is in no way cramped. The establishment is charming, with traditional wood furniture and even an authentic, working telephone booth capable of international calls. Complimentary tea and coffee is offered to complement a well stocked library(which range from encyclopedia's to Cliffnotes on Romeo and Juliet). The hot water for tea is the perfect temperature too!

The evening entertainment was "A Wrinkle in Time", which was comedic as well as thought-provoking, and featured in an indoor theatre named the Angus Bowmer Theatre, whose seats were comfortable and had plenty of leg room. Love as strength is a somewhat overused concept, but there were plenty of other new ideas and hilarious scenes to retain the audience's attention. Comic relief was succeasfully employed, although there were a few allusions only older viewers understood.

However, regardless of age or culture, every audience member can relate to at least one character or situation portrayed in "A Wrinkle in Time". Tomorrow is another day of exploring the quaint town, and I only hope the following plays live up to their reputations as "A Wrinkle in Time" did.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


As the school year approaches its close, college-bound high school seniors battle the mounting stress from combating senioritis and waiting to finally cross over to the next stage in life. Most graduating students are planning to live up the last few days of senior year at Disneyland, but a small group have chosen instead to de-stress at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Why forgo "The Happiest Place on Earth"? 

Shakespeare students are looking forward to quality time with nature, a variety of delectable foods, exposure to diverse cultures, and of course the education and entertainment of William Shakespeare's renowned literary works. A majority of the travelling students have already ready several of Shakespeare's works throughout high school, and watching these works performed in the flesh is a fitting conclusion to this chapter of our lives. 

For those interested in the educational aspect of this school trip, for the parents who wish to see what mischief we are up to, and for the curious viewers who may be contemplating attending next year's Shakespeare Festival, stay tuned!