Huzzah (that's Olde English for hooray) to the wonderful company of actors, designers, production staff, volunteers, donors and patrons who make up the local miracle called Shakespeare Walla Walla.
This spring's production of "The Tempest" was nothing short of magical. My husband and I are used to good quality, traditional doublet-and-hose Shakespearean productions each year at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
And many a summer have we traveled two grueling days along a broiling summer blacktop to locate the best of the Bard several states away.
But to find this gem right here, where we have been transplanted from our old home town, is an unexpected, rare treat indeed.
The color-blind casting of Prospero's booming Darth Vader bass and commanding presence with his fair- haired daughter Miranda is a brilliant, modern touch. She deftly teases out her father's finer qualities, those of self knowledge and then, ultimately, forgiveness for those who have wronged him. It is a is a study in contrasts and complements.
Light and dark. Right and wrong. Old and new. Serious and silly. Forgiveness and revenge. It is an understanding of what makes the human heart tick.
Partnered brilliantly by the excellent talents of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company, there are the requisite Shakespearean clowns who speak, dress and behave in ways to make us laugh aloud at our own follies. We weep at Caliban's enslavement, our sympathies achingly aware of how he embodies our own internal and external struggles.
We delight in blithe Ariel's graceful dancing and haunting melodies. And for one mystical theatrical moment, we are transported from workaday heaviness to a lightness of being.
This is the enchantment of live theater, a hand-crafted labor of love in an age of mass production.
This play is said to be the final work of Shakespeare before his retirement from the London stage to his birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon. His gift to his own audiences and those down through the ages is this: Prospero is redeemed. Caliban triumphs. Ariel is freed. Miranda and her Prince Ferdinand become free to discover their love.
All the characters in this remarkable acting troupe triumph on a stage bursting with "sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not." Humanity's nobler instincts triumph, as do those of the members of a grateful audience.
It is my hope that other Walla Wallans will discover and relish these and many more of Shakespeare's "two hours traffic on the stage." May you find delight in the richness of a playwright whose works were relevant in his own turbulent times and relevant in our own as well. Perhaps through experiences like this, we can reclaim a bit of ourselves in recognizing our all too frequently divided humanity.
Most humbly and with one more huzzah,