“I’m digging those boots,” said a man at the Staunton farmer’s market. My boots (see post “What’s with the boots?”) are still like a siren’s song drawing people to me but hopefully without dashing them to pieces on the rocks. It was too hot to wear them in Georgia and South Carolina and I missed them, but now they’re back!
Driving into Virginia I was struck by the clear air, it was as if I had cleaned off my dirty, smudged glasses and could see crispness again. There were sweet peas growing wild along the rolling-hilled highway, everything green and lush. But something about the atmosphere was welcoming and I embraced the feeling of coming home.
I came to Staunton (pronounced Stanton), VA to see the American Shakespeare Center. They are a troupe that I auditioned for in NYC last year and I have heard great things and wanted to see for myself what they are up to. They have built the only replica of Shakespeare’s indoor Blackfriar’s Playhouse. It is a beautiful gem. Staging and lighting is as it would have been done in the 1500’s, with some audience sitting on stage and even in the Lord’s boxes above the stage. I wrote Jim Warren, the artistic director, the morning of my arrival and he arranged to get me 3 comp tickets to three shows. His prompt and generous gesture proved even more that this company is doing many things right. I felt happy to be so respected, honored and taken care of.
So I was whistling dixie as I pulled into town and feeling tingly with excitement to see some good theater. And I was not disappointed. They entertain with Shakespeare, music is a huge part of what they do, lots of singing before, after and during the show. The actors are talented, dedicated and do not take a break, even at intermission they are serenading. The audience eats up the energy given and I can imagine Shakespeare’s contemporaries using the same devices. I am determined to audition for their next season again. It is definitely a different style of acting, but for drawing in an audience unfamiliar with Shakespeare, or intimidated by him, they are the perfect remedy.
I was fortunate enough to get to sit right on the stage in the single row of “galant stools” so I really was part of the action. I even had to give up my stool a few times to an actor who desired it. What a romp! And this is where the boots come back into play. At one intermission I had a young man approach me and comment on how he liked my boots and style, seeing me from his seat across the way. We chatted and time passed all too quickly but I found out he is from a town in PA north of here, the direction I am heading. I gave him my business card and we’ve been texting so he may show me his town if I am passing through.
But back to Staunton. My time was mostly spent in the delightful theatre, and in a bookstore, two of my favorite places, but I did go to the Farmer’s Market and walked to as many of the GORGEOUS old churches as possible. They were all locked up surprisingly, I guess Saturday is a day of rest before the Sunday services. I missed going inside and seeing the stained glass and vaulted ceilings, but there’s always another town. Old, staunch, steepled, historic churches fill the towns around here, something you don’t get as much of in the west. It makes things look very quaint, and gives me contentment to see them.
I heard something while in Staunton from a musician who said, “Anything will make us see, but art will make us look.” I really embrace this notion of art getting us to look, at ourselves, at others, at nature. And as I drove away from yet another town of connections, John Denver’s My Heart to Yours came on my ipod and it seemed so appropriate for my soul. I am sharing my heart, you are sharing yours and love is the result wherever I go.
I haven’t seen all there is to see
But I’ve seen quite a bit
I’ve seen things I’ll always remember
Some things I wish that I could forget
I haven’t quite been around the world
But I’ve been around the block
I know that distances are meaningless
Like the hands that move around a clock
And I know that love is everywhere
Always safe, always true
And exactly where it comes from
Is where it’s going to
Your heart to mine, my heart to yours
Talk about opening windows, talk about opening doors
My heart to yours, your heart to mine
Love is a light that shines from heart to heart