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OtRwC Day 22, Part 1: Shakespeare

Last Saturday morning as Elaine and I packed up our belongings in our cabin in Bryce Canyon, we discussed where to go next. We had tentatively considered going to Mesquite, Nevada for a day or so. Mesquite is trying to re-invent itself as a destination spot for spas, but so far has to use cheap rooms to draw customers. The cheap rooms attract me and we thought maybe we could hang around a hot tub and get massages and so on.  I looked at the map to see what we might take in on the way to Mesquite, and saw that a logical stop was Cedar City, Utah.

Cedar City is right on highway 15, which we all know goes straight to Las Vegas, and as I know also goes through Mesquite. Cedar City is home to Southern Utah University, which in turn is home to a major Shakespearean Festival. This festival goes on all summer. It seems to be a big part of the definition of Cedar City, which calls itself "festival city". Cedar City is a lot older than the festival, of course, but other than the surrounding beauty that is southern Utah, it doesn't offer all that much by itself. It has a "historic downtown" which is rather cute and seems to be functioning rather well, and in general the size of the town (27,000) means it offers all services so looks like a rather nice place to live. All of this we did not know when we set out from Bryce, a mere 80 miles from Cedar City. We figured we'd stop, take a look around, maybe take in a play, maybe stay the night.

We took highway 14 to Cedar City, passing Cedar Breaks, yet another national monument that looks incredibly beautiful (we may take that in today or tomorrow), and arrived not long after noon. We saw a sign to the Shakespeare center and followed it to the ticket office, where we bought tickets to Candida (by GB Shaw), which was playing at two that afternoon. Then, of course, we had to get a motel. The Shakespeare booklet had a list of local motels and pricing so we called one and found a room. We zipped on over to the stunning Best Value Inn, got the room, and installed Bullet. This motel offers "limited pets", according to the website, which we found means we get to pay a $7 fee each day and we also have to stay in a designated "pet room", which has certain issues (not related to pets). But it's cheap.

We saw Candida at the Randall L. Jones Theater, a really nice theater with about 750 seats. We got terrific (and a trifle expensive) seats near the front. It looked like just about any seats would have been good, though. The play has aged well - which we might expect with Shaw. Really so contemporary that you might think it's a modern playwright's idea of 1900, when in fact it's way ahead of its time.

Having soaked up that brilliance, we thought maybe another play that night. We therefore later bought tickets to King Lear and after enjoying part of an outdoor entertainment we went into the amazing Adams Shakespearean Theater to see the play. We had great seats in the top tier, where we had the cover of the partial roof (in case of rain) and the benefit of the outdoor sky to enhance the experience. The play is, of course, one of Shakespeare's best, and while it demands the attention of playgoers I felt that the staging and acting went a long way to help us past the old English. I would like to see the play again, elsewhere, so I can gain a greater understanding of the details. The fundamental story, though, is simple and heart-wrenching.

The following morning, Sunday, we decided what the heck, let's just take in a couple more plays. We signed on for three more days at the Best Value Inn, decided to lay in some food (the place has a fridge and microwave), and took to the streets. Stay tuned for the story of Sunday in Utah.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
How totally fun
I love what you've been doing. We went to Zion two years ago in October but it was all about Zion. We did see Cedar City, and Mt. Carmel (REALLY isolated; if you see a young person hitchiking, pick them up: they are trying to get out of Mormon country!), and St. George. Connie flew into St. George which has an airport on a plateau. If we go again we have to check out the theatre!!!
Jul. 4th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
Re: How totally fun
Much of Utah seems isolated to me, even though the roads out are there. St. George collects the "lost boys" - but the young women seem to have a harder time escaping. Either way it has to be a really wrenching thing to do, to leave their families.

Zion is beautiful too. Utah is just one incredibly gorgeous state. And because of its small population so much of this beauty is available everywhere.

The Shakespearean Festival is really big. It goes on for months and it has permanent structures on campus, like the Adams theater and an old-style concession stand, and administration buildings and so on. I don't know of other events like this, in such a small city, that are so well developed. Down to the T-shirts and cards and the posters ("One of Rome's Great Warriors was nothing more than a mama's boy - Coriolanus"). I have been so impressed by what they offer, not only in talent, which is amazing, but in side offerings and support materials, that I am considering becoming a member.

So worth checking out! I hope you do. It ends in September so there's still time for this year..
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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