BootsnAll Travel Network

Theatre, the hostel, and Ashland

Saw two plays Saturday: The Clay Cart, a beautifully-staged Indian drama–intensely colored saris, open stage, inventive ways to use the ensemble and pillows as walls, cloth on dowels held by three people as ox-carts, descending lamps to create interiors–translated in a way that uses comedy to keep western audiences awake. It is a pretty little melodrama, competently performed with a multiracial cast including some excellent singers and dancers. It’s fluff, basically, but a pleasure to look at. But Saturday night was really powerful: a play about a Marine returning home from Iraq without one of her legs: Welcome Home Jenny Sutter. She ends up in an encampment of homeless eccentrics who share her sense of displacement and respect her grief: for her leg, for her life, for her place in the universe. The character who befriends her is a wild woman named Lou–really the great role in the play, a role Jeannine Haas HAS to play one day, a role I would have loved to play–who has given up her addictions to gambling, alcohol, cigarettes, men, and just about everything that ever gave her pleasure, on the advice of a “therapist” who is really a homeless former hairdresser, and is in (celibate) love with a man who is physically crippled by child abuse and has become a truly saintly preacher. It sounds like the playwright threw in everything but the sink (they don’t have sinks in a tent-town), but the play works because the acting is brilliant, the dialogue is sparse but true to the ear, and the story says to me that the playwright–a woman named Myatt I never heard of before–knows what she’s talking about.

I’ve enjoyed Bob (his latest enthusiasms are knitting–and we went to a wool shop where I picked out the wool for the fire-orange throw he’s making as a housewarming gift for me–and the cello); we had dinner at a very good Indian restaurant with two of their friends from San Francisco–David and Barry, a couple of life-loving men who have been together almost twenty years and are very astute about theatre and took issue with the second act of Fences which, when they expressed them, I had to agree with: some awkward moments in staging, some choices made by the director and the actors that did undercut the theme of forgiveness which is central to the play; though we all agreed the first half was superb.

Bob and Jeremy are going to give Coriolanus a miss today, but I’m going to see it with David and Barry.

It turns out the group of kids at the hostel are all in the same rehab, and they’ve come here to go snowboarding and to ski. Some of them have interesting tattoos and piercings, and they have a cheery edginess that is fun to be around. As we were all cooking breakfast together, one of them, a fresh-faced sweetie with a bandana on her head, asked me where I had been, outside of the USA. I named several places, including South Africa, and she said, “So Nelson Mandela has been President there since the 70s, hasn’t he?” I told her no; he was in prison in the 70s. I said he became president in 1994, and I moved to South Africa in 1995. She smiled, “I was only five years old then, so I don’t remember much from 1995.”

Last night after the play I sat sipping tea by the fire in the living room and got into conversation with the two other “older” people who are here now. One is a woman in her fifties whose house burned down last month and is staying here, she said, “till my karma turns around, which I know it will.” The other is a thirty-something man who has moved here to be part of his twelve-year-old daughter’s life. He was working as a nickel miner in a mine four hours north of Toronto; “too damn cold,” he said, and I can believe it. This is why I love hostels. If I were staying where Bob & Jeremy or David & Barry are staying, I wouldn’t have met anyone. Or maybe I would have met a woman like the one I sat by last night: she’s my age but dyes her hair red looks a decade older, comes from Tennessee but now lives in San Francisco, loved Clay Cart but was offended by the “vulgar language and bad grammar” in Fences. Good god. I was relieved when the lights went down and she shut up. No, I’ll take hostel life.

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3 responses to “Theatre, the hostel, and Ashland”

  1. h sofia says:

    You’ve been here two months and managed to do what I haven’t gotten around to in 16 years: seen a play in Ashland. It’s a pretty town, isn’t it?

  2. Kathryn says:

    It’s a beautiful little town, and the theatre is first-rate! Maybe you can get down there before the baby comes? It’ll be harder to do trips like that when there are three of you. I highly recommend the hostel. Friendly and very inexpensive ($25 a person).

  3. h sofia says:

    That might be a good plan for the summer … I envision so many weekend “mini-breaks” when the weather is warm, and the sun is shining. I’m going to the beach, the mountains, the woods, the desert … I don’t know why I never went to a hostel in Ashland, which is a very pricey place! I’ve only been there once: for lunch. A friend who loves to drive suggested a day trip; we went for lunch, walked around, and drove right back, stopping in Grant’s Pass for her favorite restaurant: the Yankee Pot Roast! 10 hours’ in the car for two meals!

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