Sunday, July 10, 2011
Antony, Cleopatra, two eagles, three bats....
A big bonus of living in the city is that I'm a half-mile from a spectacular park (site of previous owling), and for 23 consecutive summers, Shakespeare plays have been performed in the amphitheatre, free of charge.
Last night was one of those evenings for which we endure winter: temps in the low 70's, blue skies, and a clarity of air guaranteed to bring out even the most stubborn of curmudgeons. I was surprised at how small an audience there was -- maybe a hundred people scattered here and there on the wooden benches or on blankets, dinners spread out in front of them. As our decision to attend was more or less spontaneous, our picnic was a hurried sack of two cheeses and a half-box of crackers. I coveted a neighboring picnic -- plates of roasted chicken, pasta salad, two kinds of cherries, thick slices of artisan bread. (And I nearly plucked up a cupcake when it was clear that there were extras --)
Antony and Cleopatra: intrigue, romance, war, cunning calculations, betrayal and, of course, the denouement of death. One thing I especially noticed was the athleticism required of these (quite younger than me!) actors -- because the stage area is essentially a broad concrete platform surrounded by trees and field, there was constant running and charging, the frequent thrusting of swords in a spirited choreography.
I have to admit that I tune in and out with Shakespeare; I always wish everything was slowed down just a mite. Nonetheless, the bard's ever-present wit and the sheer exuberance of the youthful actors undeniably captivated me.
At "curtain" call (no actual curtain existed other than those four fluttering panels), two eaglets soared overhead, one after the other, barely skimming the tips of the firs. A waxing gibbous moon hung just above us, gauzy, barely veiled by the sheerest of clouds against the dark dusky blue.
Afterwards, in the thinning light we waded through the luxury of unmown grasses nearly shoulder-height to a massive Douglas fir, where, impossibly high up, an eagle's nest perched, its twig-and-stick roost successfully disguised as, well, twigs and sticks. A closer inspection, as darkness began to settle upon us, revealted a cleft in the fir's trunk, and inside was this:
Three bats swooped and flitted above, the twilight air alive with insects. This was all magic, and all within walking distance of my house. My house.
Coming into focus: I count myself as one of the lucky ones.