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Spending the Weekend With Shakespeare

Mary Rose Bernal, Reporter

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On a chilly Thursday morning, I managed to escape the family van after being bombarded by hugs from my mom and brother.  I looked out of place trudging onto the Presentation campus with my suitcase and bulky bag, and I was having conflicted feelings about signing up for this trip.

Why was I standing out in the cold, early morning being weighed down by luggage when I could be completing the comfortable routine of my classes?  Because I am a self-proclaimed Shakespeare lover.  With forty girls, four teacher chaperones, and a box of donuts, we would be traveling the eight hours of fun to the destination of Ashland, Oregon.

After forcing the dead lumps that were my legs to step off of the bus, I was immediately refreshed by the calming atmosphere of Ashland.  The town can be covered within an hour’s walk, but it is packed with an unbelievable amount of character.  All sorts of people can be found, ranging from socializing college students to actors from the theater to the people that own the cute little shops on Main Street.

In one bookstore, you can purchase antiques and even original copies of books as well as old-fashioned postcards and various trinkets.  I was blown away by the sweetness of the lady behind the counter, who recommended novels to us and chatted about the plays.

Exploring the area had to be paused to go to the group dinner at the Standing Stone Brewery.  This restaurant makes the best and most filling food, and it was fun to laugh with friends and surprise Mr. Schmuck with a birthday dessert.

But of course, the trip did not really begin until I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to go on a morning walk led by the aforesaid Charlie Schmuck.  I looked forward to watching the annual prank played on the newcomers to Ashland, in which the girls drink “pure Ashland water” (unfiltered, nasty stuff).

The walk got a bit more serious when we walked through the beautiful Lithia Park.  The scenery along the path was serene and relaxing, filled with trees and a wide stream to provide a soothing background noise.  None of the girls wanted to turn around and go back, but we had to eat breakfast and get ready for our first Shakespeare-related event: an exclusive backstage tour.

From the moment you shake an actor’s hand from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, you know that they are passionate about their job and love every minute of it.  All of them were so friendly and willing to talk to us, and it was great to meet people so full of life.  One night, a few girls even went with Mr. Schmuck to follow an actor after his performance in hopes of meeting him.  It was a little embarrassing, but the actor was so understanding and perfectly happy to talk to them.

Over the course of the weekend, we saw four plays: Cocoanuts, a Marx Brothers production, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, a tragic play about politics and depression,  A Comedy of Errors, a Harlem rendition of a Shakespeare classic, and Water by the Spoonful, a modern work about addiction and family ties.  Only one was written by William Shakespeare, but all of them were thrilling and brilliantly performed.  With each one, Pres students laughed, cried, and had a generally good time.

By the end of the weekend, we had all emptied our pockets from buying too many souvenirs, but gained delicious treats, shared pizzas, watched phenomenal shows, took several photos, and had a memorable time.  We returned to San Jose on Sunday afternoon with homework to do and a need for sleep, but it was definitely worth it for the time we enjoyed.

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The School Newspaper of Presentation High School.
Spending the Weekend With Shakespeare