Zounds and huzzah! The merrye olde Utah Shakespearean Festival is again upon us. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say: Forsooth! what doth yon bequiddle?
The festival, in Cedar City, draws audiences from around the world, everyone from Shakespeare aficionados to Shakespeare novices. Retired persons wander up from their enclosures in St. George, and parents bring their children down from Salt Lake City in a vain attempt to educate them. It’s a true celebration of theater, right there in the middle of a horrible, horrible desert.
One thing that is nice about the festival is that, as a tourist mecca, the dress is informal. There is no pressure to dress up for the shows, though I hasten to add that just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you look good in a crop-top. It is a casual sort of place, though.
Now, just because the atmosphere is relaxed at the festival doesn’t mean you are allowed to talk during the plays, even if what you’re saying is really, really smart, like in “1776” when John Adams kept telling his wife to send saltpeter, and then two unmarked barrels arrived, and the man behind me said, “Saltpeter,” like he was some kind of brilliant master of deduction. Even if your comment is THAT smart, you still aren’t allowed to talk.
Of course, no rules of etiquette, in the theater or elsewhere, apply to you if you are an extremely old person. By virtue of having successfully lived more than six decades without dying, you are entitled to behave however you like. I don’t read magazines like Modern Maturity, but I assume they contain articles outlining the differences between the way normal people and old people are expected to conduct themselves. (“How to Disconnect Your Turn Signal.”)
Anyway, while at the festival, be sure to take part in the Royal Feaste (the extra “e” is for “edible”). This is a thing where you eat old-style food while old-style performers pretend to be serving wenches and stuff like that, in case you’re the sort who likes to be amused while he eats. I think you have to eat with your hands, and that you also have to slaughter the animal yourself, but it’s possible I’m making that up.
After the feast(e), you’ll toddle off to see a show. The Shakespearean plays are performed in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre, named after the founder of the festival, Fred Theatre. It is one of the world’s best replicas of Shakespeare’s own Globe Theatre, with the obvious exceptions of having modern seating and being in Utah.
To make the experience really authentic, they have girls in period costumes and accents of some kind (English, maybe, but it’s hard to be sure) hawking their wares at intermission, shouting, “Chocolates! Caramels!” and so on. Among the things they sell that make me giggle: “tarts” and “horehound.” There is also a concession stand where you may purchase authentic Elizabethan treats such as cappuccino and Dr Pepper.
So eate, drinke and be merrye! Head downe to Cedar Citye and partake of the Utahe Shakespeareane Festivale before the summere passes you by. You’ll be glad you did, and William Shakespeare’s estate will be grateful for the royalties.
The first paragraph contains a direct quote from a column I wrote five years earlier, also about Shakespeare, and also referencing people who talk during plays. You may read it here. (That column, in turn, recycled jokes I'd made about Shakespeare seven years before THAT. So you see how it goes with me.)
This isn't much of a column, really. It's short, and it's narrow in focus. That's because it ran alongside my reviews of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and it needed to serve as a sort of sidebar to them. So it's not one for the ages, but it served its specific function, and I did get to do my favorite thing, which is belittle people who don't know how to dress properly.