June 24, 2007

Ashland 2007 – Day Two

Yesterday afternoon's play was Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. This was the first time I've seen this play. I like Chekhov – one of my favorite speeches in drama is from Uncle Vanya (Sonia’s first speech in Act 1). I liked the interplay of character and situation, as the economic destruction of feudalism, begun with the "catastrophe" of the emancipation of the serfs, continues. It was not as emotional as yesterday's productions, but I don't usually find Chekhov to be particularly emotional. As a playwright, he's more of an observer of humans – of his characters – rather than a manipulator of his audience.

We had a nice, English pub-style dinner at the Black Sheep Pub. It's a big place, on the top floor of the big brick building (which appears in very old photos of Ashland) on Water Street. The menu hit all of the pub-food marks that you'd expect and there were a few English beers on tap, too. I had a Newcastle Brown and some good fish and chips. J had a steak and kidney pie and a glass of red.

The evening's play was our first foray into the world as reconstructed by August Wilson, the beginning of his grand cycle (which I just realized has no over-arching title; refreshing) of twentieth century, African-American history, Gem of the Ocean. It was fascinating and beautiful. The characters of Aunt Ester and Solly Two Kings were beautiful and wonderful recreations of historical archetypes. They represented, respectively, the African past and it's present uses, and the continuing (continuous?) struggle, in the present, to come to inherit and make use of the promise of freedom. Their solemn and warm affection bridged these two elements and created a powerful collaboration. And when Greta Oglesby, who played Aunt Ester, sang, there was nothing to say but, "Wow."

No comments: