Tag Archives: Berkshires

The Audacity of Dopes

Reports of bad human behavior are nothing new, particularly here.  But once in awhile there are behaviors so novel, so compelling, they really do warrant a tale.

Picture if you will a 250 year old inn, nestled in the Berkshires.  It is a grand home festooned with an expansive porch, (blessedly outfitted daily with afternoon tea.)  The cultivated gardens burst forth under the watchful eye of a colonial era church, which adorably bongs out the hour.  Inside, there is an extensive library and dozens of board games and puzzles lining the walls of an enormous living room.

There is a sitting room at the entrance to the dining room.  Guests gather after a groggy trip to the coffee bar.  They await their gourmet 3-course breakfast while perusing the inn’s newspapers.  There is a very quiet rustic elegance to the inn.  Guests are quiet yet friendly.

So there I was, coffee in hand, alone in the sitting room, looking fruitlessly for the front section of the paper.  (For those who are not familiar with news delivered on “paper” the front section is the meat of the issue.)  I looked high, I looked low.  The inn manager was engaged in the search as well.  An hour and three cups of coffee later, I had made my way through every other section of the New York paper, the entirety of the local paper, 2 catalogs of cotton drapey clothes and successfully ignored the towering stack of Gourmet magazines.  By this time I was joined by others looking for the paper as well.  It was then that a woman walked out of the dining room (with her companion) holding what looked suspiciously like the front section of the newspaper under her arm.  I called out a modulated; “excuse me, is that the front section of the paper?”  Her answer?  “Yes, I’m not done with it.”  My look must have expressed what my sputtering brain could not.  She looked at me and with just a hint of sarcasm (yet, no apparent irony) said; “why?  is it yours?”  She then went upstairs to her room.  With the communal paper.

Now I admit, I didn’t even consider using my indoor voice when commenting with my fellow aghast guests.  I think I might have even been a wee snide.

Look, we all want what we want when we want it.  That is the human condition.  But sometimes those impulses erode into truly antisocial behavior (like hiding a newspaper at your breakfast table so that no one but you can have it and you’ll be assured your private bedroom date with it after your repast.) But I have to ask myself, if one is that anti-social or anti-communal, what is one doing in an inn?  Surely there are 5-star hotels or campers which would better serve.

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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Cultural Critique


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Romeo and Juliet – Review

I just love a theatre festival, a wonderful alchemy of “theatre” and of “festival.”  The most fabulous of these happenings occur somewhere that is lovely all on its own (ex.: Niagra on the Lake, the Berkshires, etc.)  Add to this an actual company of creative artists and a laid back simulated outdoor performance (note: I do not enjoy theatre in the actual outdoors as I find it inconducive to subtlety) and you have the making of a very special experience.  I have seen wonderful new works premiered at festivals as well as unique interpretations of traditional works.  Directors have more artistic leeway off of the great white way, and the audience is often the beneficiary of this freedom of expression.

Last night I was mesmerized by Daniela Varon’s (dir.) interpretation of Rome and Juliet at Shakespeare & Co. (Lenox, MA.)  I don’t know if I’ve every seen a fully staged professional live production of this work.  This would explain why, for the first 30 minutes or so, I kept thinking; “This Shakespeare fellow does a wonderful interpretation of West Side Story.”

A thrust stage and a balcony (not for what you would think) were used within an inch of their life.  Many of the younger characters wove in and around the audience at times.  This device was used lightly and brilliantly and never felt contrived or desperate (in that “stand-up comic using the audience for material way.”)  Set in a non-specific time, with no video, and very minimal audio, the audience was free to project their own framework onto the story.  The costumes aided in that they were predominately all white.  The white cotton costuming provided a perfect canvas for all of the bleeding as well.  There was a colossal burst of color and extraordinary costuming for the dance at the gym masquerade ball scene.

I am hesitant to single out any of the performances as there were so many riveting and enjoyable actors.  I do feel compelled to mention that I simply could not take my eyes off of Riff Mercutio.  He was very funny and physical and flat out magnetic.  Ms. Varon directed this R&J in such a fresh and exciting manner.  I had no idea this play could be so funny.  Yes, of course it’s tragic, but some of the dialogue is extremely amusing.  I particularly enjoyed directing Juliet (Susanna Millonzi) to periodically act just like a 14 year old!

Now dear reader, if you will permit me to get meta for a moment.  I have always been schooled to understand R&J as a tale of the ultimate tragedy of warring families.  Minimally, the play is a cautionary tale of why we should not try to keep our teenagers from dating those we find undesirable.  Well call me practical penguin, but I’m now thinking it is a cautionary tale about mis-communication.  Those kids didn’t die because their families didn’t get along.  They died because Doc the friar did not get the message to Romeo in time.

Oh, and in Romeo and Juliet?  Chino dies.

Note: I found it telling that there were at least a dozen children in the audience, some barely at the multiplication table age, who sat silent and spellbound throughout the three hours.

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


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