Back I am, from beautiful Ashland, Oregon, where I've been participating in the Ashland New Plays Festival. What an amazing time I've had!
On Sunday, October 5th, I flew from Los Angeles into Medford to begin my adventure as one of the four playwrights selected as "winners" of this year's ANPF. Check out my last post for a review of day one -- which began with meeting and greeting the wonderful folks who made the ANPF happen (including Art Works Enterprises president John Lee) and culminated in attending a performance of "The Clay Cart" -- an Oregon Shakespeare Festival show that was designed by my ANPF director, Christopher Acebo. It was fabulous -- a 2,000 year old tale from India, well-told, with singing, dancing and lots of fun.
I intended to keep up with this blog throughout the week... but I was having too much fun to have any time to write about it! Here are a few highlights from the week.
Just walking through the town of Ashland made me feel better about life. It's a beautiful small town that is infused through and through with theater. And deer. Herds of wild, roaming deer and actors. Is that cool or what?
Living in Los Angeles has made me very tired of driving, so I told John that if my lodgings (with the most generous Hollis and Mary Pat) were anywhere near town, he didn't need to rent me a car -- I'd prefer to walk. They live at the top of a good old hill, and I really got a work out going up and down. Which was good -- because the food in Ashland is awesome. I have to give a special shout out to Pangea, which has the best soup in the world, and Mix, which is in the running for the best coffee...
The ANPF folks had given us coupons to a number of the local eateries -- a free sandwich here, a $5 gift certificate there. It was a great perk, and encouraged us to visit a variety of places during our stay.
The town is full of fun shops, restaurants, bookstores and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival theaters -- the Elizabethan Stage, the Bowmer (where I saw "The Clay Cart," named after Angus Bowmer, festival founder) and the New Theater, where I was lucky enough to see "Coriolanus."
I especially liked their local independent bookstore, called Bloomsbury Books. I contributed to the local economy by buying a photo book on Antarctica (research for a new play) and a book called "River of Doubt" -- an utter astounding find -- about Teddy Roosevelt's voyage down the Rio da Duvida, which I talk about in "Song of Extinction." It has pictures and everything! I am so geeky and delighted... I found out about his Amazon expedition when I visited the Natural History Museum in New York.
Lithia Park is yet another reason to love this town. The park (and its walking paths) run along Lithia Creek, and it is a very peaceful, beautiful place.
I'll add more to this post later, because I haven't even gotten to the theater bits yet! But in the meantime, here's a picture of the four of us playwrights: Steve Lyons, me, Babs Lindsay and Tony Pasqualini. Do we look writerly to you?