I am a regional young actor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and am scheduled for auditions in the four of the top theatre programs in the country in February. In preparation, my mother and I traveled to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for inspiration. The trip planned my future. I will work there one day – no question.
Early on a Sunday we headed for Seattle, Washington. It was cheaper to fly to Seattle and drive seven hours than fly to Medford, the nearest airport to Ashland. We had family in Seattle so the educational theatre trip was a great excuse to reconnect.
We stayed with my aunt for two days then rented a compact car and began the 461-mile drive to Ashland, Oregon. After the first few hours, (other than the realization that I was wearing the wrong pants for a long drive), I noticed that the further we drove from home, the closer we got to heaven. There were shocking amounts of trees, overpowering mountains, and a brighter sky than shines in the Midwest.
If I were to describe what we experienced in one word it would have to be green. One looks up and sees nothing but echoing treetops and peaks of bright blue sky. No clouds. Up in the mountains there are signs on the side of cliffs that say “Rocks!” as if one would not notice the impending danger of being crushed by hovering stone.
The smell was omnipresent in and out of the car. Oregon is a pine tree up the nose times ten. The natural world of Oregon is Heaven on Earth. Purple mountains majesty is incongruent among the green of Oregon. The mountains, the land, and the ironically narrow-minded signposts are all green in Oregon. Give me God, Guns, and Gold read the billboards along the way. My mother and I spent our journey pondering that phrase, and the implications for our country.
Arriving at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, I unpacked in a company apartment provided by Oregon Shakes to my mother, a veteran theatre professional. It was very hot. The first night we saw The Servant of Two Masters, which I was studying for my audition for Juilliard. I learned plenty from watching and more from meeting the actor playing the role I intended to use for the audition.
We spent another two days in Ashland seeing a production of Macbeth and quite possibly the best production of Much Ado About Nothing that I will ever see. Our last night, we treated ourselves to a dinner at an exquisite restaurant called Martinos. It was the best Italian food I have ever tasted! Of course I have not yet visited Italy. The experience was a goodbye to my childhood and a hello to my future.
From the Ashland Shakespeare Festival I discovered my aspirations, my art, and the training I need to be good enough to achieve my goals. Most importantly, I got to spend a wonderful week with my mom; someone I don’t see nearly enough for how much she is worth to me.
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