Nature, theatre and the artistic spirit

I spent 8 hours in the car driving to Spring Green, Wisconsin, trying to make it in time to get a ticket to Troilus and Cressida at American Players Theatre. I got there with 8 minutes to spare, bought a ticket and busted up the hill to the amazing outdoor venue to be the last person to enter the theater. So I hardly had time to catch my breath and look around. The first act was a little slow, and I had to fight off my lethargy. But at intermission I was able to soak in the magical surroundings and wake up with the help of some amazing sugared cashews. The setting is fairy magic memorable. I heard crickets, frogs, saw bats swooping into the lights, all this mingled with the talented acting company creating a beautiful production of a difficult Shakespeare play under the stars.

In the pitch black night, I found my way to my darling, cheap motel. I was arriving late so they just left the key in the door, it’s that kind of place. I sat on the swing in the beautifully warm evening and let the quiet country soak into my soul. The next morning I awoke to see corn fields stretching for miles, walked out to see chickens, chicks, bunnies, and a lanky labrador pup in a well landscaped yard with a koi pond.

I brought my daughter, Audrey, with me. We went into the Spring Green township and wandered in and out of small shops until it started to rain.

We hunkered down for a few hours in a wonderful bookstore cafe and enjoyed sandwiches, coffee and books and I fell in love with a quote on one of the shelves that I completely bond with. “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” -Borges. I would have been happy to have been stranded there for days.

But we had afternoon reservations to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesin, The rainy weather scared most people away and so we toured in a group of six. Audrey and I were the only ones with any life on that tour. Our poor guide, Margaret, would ask questions as we walked around the grounds, the School of Architecture and home, like “where are you all from?” and we would be the only ones to respond. I don’t know what was wrong with the other two couples but they were definite bumps on a log!

Consequently, Margaret zeroed in on us and we enjoyed the attention. She asked us what we do for work and when I told her I am an actor, she said with a smile, “Me too! Get ready, this is your future.” She was in her 70’s and she went on to tell me how the theatre world is not kind to older female actors. She said that she is in good health but no one will hire her. She has worked with acclaimed directors such as the founder of Seattle’s Intiman Theatre, Margaret Booker, and I am sure is a wealth of wisdom and enlightenment. She said that she finds her tour guide job a good way to use her acting skills. I was left feeling the sad reminder of how our society devalues seniors. We do not revere the longevity of life, in fact just the opposite. What a shame. She commented that “directors are afraid I won’t be able to memorize lines” and she went on to say in her spritely way that she can memorize just fine! I could hear the sadness and regret in her voice even though she was making the best of a lousy situation.

But back to Frank Lloyd Wright. He was prolific and created some 1000 architectural plans in his lifetime. I must confess that I am not one to go nuts about architecture. I have marveled at Wright’s Guggenheim in NYC, but the real beauty of Taliesin was that it was so ahead of its time. He was born in 1867 and was creating designs that reminded me of the 1960‘s. Audrey, being an artist, with a design engineer’s mind was alight with inspiration and asked such intelligent questions that I enjoyed seeing the place through her eyes.

The surrounding landscape was so beautiful. It had stopped raining and we lingered at views of the valley below. I am so completely in love with nature and this architect’s whole idea was to make it so that our living spaces draw the eye outside to the natural beauty in the world. It certainly worked for me. It works for theatre. It works for life. Let’s get out for a hike and speak some lines of Shakespeare while we’re at it!

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