Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, April 27, 2012

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Citadel - and an Edmonton Escapade Audi

I have been blogging over the past few days about my recent trip to Edmonton, a trip courtesy of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. In my last post I left off with my own attempt to contribute to the economic development of that city in the form of buying shoes (which is typically how I support most economies, and has led friends to suggest I may be the only reason several shoe retailers have avoided bankruptcy). After I had purchased my fabulous new shoes I realized I had a couple of hours to spare before heading to the Citadel Theatre to catch their presentation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and I also thought I should probably eat something. Not hungry enough for an actual meal I decided to return again to Transcend Coffee, fortunately just across the street from the shoe store I was standing in, and the perfect spot to grab a coffee and a snack.

I trotted down to Transcend, and ordered a latte and a marvellous carrot cake muffin that was pretty much beyond perfection. As I sat there and drank my coffee and devoured my muffin I also began to realize I was pretty tired. Very tired. In fact, almost falling-asleep-at-my-table-tired, and I feared that if I didn't get some down time I'd be discovered snoring in the theatre, always embarrassing when a stranger elbows you so you shut up and they can hear the actors. I collected my things and headed down Jasper to the Union Bank Inn, entered my room, and along with the daily cheese, cracker, and grapes tray and glass of white wine they provide guests I found this:

Yes, that's a note thanking me for the tweets I'd been tweeting that included mentions of the Inn. It was an absolutely lovely surprise, and I decided I would open the wine after the theatre, even though I'd be drinking it alone and quite unlikely to finish the entire bottle. I sat down in one of the comfy chairs in the room and drank my white wine and snacked on the cheese and responded to a couple of emails, and by the time I looked up it was time to head to the theatre.

I'm ashamed to admit I've never been to the Citadel. And now that I have been there I am even more ashamed I have never attended a performance there. I have been to the Jubilee several times for presentations of The Nutcracker ballet, but I had no idea what a little jewel the Citadel is, or the calibre of the theatre they present. I was very pleased to find it was a short walk from the Inn, since I am one of those who typically "dress" for the theatre and thus I trotted off wearing my usual dress and heels.

I was astonished to enter the Citadel and find this:

Yes, the Citadel is also home to a lovely little arboretum, an oasis of calm in the midst of downtown Edmonton. I spent a few moments among the greenery, delighted to find a little bit of what felt like spring despite the outdoors weather that was not quite yet springlike and more like the tail end of winter instead. I collected my ticket from the box office (pleased to find I was second row centre - I like being close to the action, people, always) and entered the theatre.

I wish I could share photos of the set for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" but the set is apparently copyrighted and photos are not allowed (I asked before I took any, always being cognizant of getting kicked out of places for being a blogger who knows no limits). To describe the set all I can say is that it is magical and vibrant, looking both like the city setting necessary for the play and the forest necessary for the fairies that play a huge role in it.

If you haven't seen the play it's bit tough to explain because Shakespeare threw a lot into it, from a storyline about young lovers to the fairies and their little battles to a group of craftsmen/actors who are a bit less than successful in mounting a dramatic performance. Poorly done I think it could be absolutely bewildering as you must watch carefully to see the threads tie the stories together, and while they do the story could seem less than cohesive. Well done, however, the play flows beautifully, and the Citadel did it better than well done. They did it magnificently.

No modern costuming for them, and no taking the language Shakespeare wrote in and "modernizing" it. Presented in the original English and with costumes true to the times of Shakespeare the play rang with authenticity. The acting was astonishingly good, with some performers standing out in a huge way in particular. The young actresses who portrayed Helena and Hermia were standouts, bringing depth to the characters and engaging the audience. The young man who played Puck was not only athletic and energetic but captured the mischievous nature of that character. The actor who portrayed Nick Bottom presented that character to perfection, the ridiculous nature of that individual clearly on stage. And perhaps my favourite was the actor who portrayed Oberon, the king of the fairies. He managed to take that character and bring it to life, and it didn't hurt a bit that he is a very handsome man (as the Intrepid Junior Bloggers would say "nom nom nom"). I would say there wasn't a single weak performer - and not a single weak moment of the performance, either.

Perhaps my very favourite moments of the performance were when the craftsmen/actors were on stage, and particularly when they mounted their production for the pleasure of Theseus, Hippolyta, and the rest. I admit it - I laughed so hard I cried. I snorted several times. And I sincerely apologize to those around me who had to endure me braying like a donkey, but the pure joy in that scene was impossible to ignore. The laughter in the theatre was clearly not just my own, however, as the entire audience was pretty much in tears by the end.

It was all in all a stunning performance from a talented cast, and brought to life on a beautiful set. I was transfixed the entire time, delighted by the Shakespearean play unfolding before me. And, at the end, I was further pleased when members of the cast stayed to do a "talk back" session with the audience, a session that I would say at least one third of the audience stayed to experience. The audience was able to ask the actors questions - how the actor portraying Puck was able to do his acrobatics, and where the actors found the inspiration for their characters. It was a lovely end to a lovely evening, and after the talk back ended I gathered my things and headed out into the dark.

Like so many cities once night has fallen the downtown core becomes quite quiet. The hustle and bustle of the day has died down, and most of the people who work in those tall towers have gone home. I was enjoying the quiet and crossing the street at a crosswalk to head back to the Inn - and that's when the Audi almost hit me.

I guess he didn't see me in my black coat, although I'm pretty certain he saw the red light. He screeched his tires to a stop in time, and I found his car half in the crosswalk and right in my path. I looked around and realized it was just the driver and I, no witnesses to the fact that he might well have mowed me down and never even stopped. I suppose the fact that no one was around might explain what I did next. I suppose I could pretend it was out of character, although those who know me well know I am prone to occasional acts of silliness, particularly when in a buoyant mood (like after leaving a theatre where I had enjoyed some wonderful Shakespeare). 

You see, what I did next surprised even me a bit. I stepped forward and hopped lightly onto the hood of the Audi, and slid across it a bit. I'd like to say it was gracefully executed but I doubt that, and rather suspect it was clumsy and awkward. I do know, however, from the gape-mouthed expression of the driver, that it was quite definitely unexpected, and while I sped off into the darkness as fast as my high heels could carry me he seemed to sit at the now green light for some time. So, to the driver of the Audi - I am most definitely NOT the woman wearing the leather jacket and heels who slid across the hood of your car, despite what this blog says. Nope. I'd never do such a thing.

I discovered I was famished, and was pleased to spy that the Subway across from the hotel was open. I grabbed a small sub, headed up to my room, opened the bottle of wine, and sat down to eat and drink. I was still quite buoyed by the play I had seen and now I was both bemused and amused by my own behaviour with the Audi in the crosswalk. I tweeted a bit about that incident, and was told that the "Starsky and Hutch" manoeuvre is considered perfectly acceptable practice, which made me feel quite vindicated. Finally, after finishing eating and realizing there was no possible way to drink more than two glasses of wine and catch my flight in the morning I gave up, packed my things, and crawled into bed. As I lay there I thought a lot about the play, and about the day spent shopping. I thought about the EEDC luncheon and all the people there who expressed interest in Fort Mac. I thought about my supper with Peter Silverstone the night before, and I chuckled as I recalled the expression of the driver of the Audi who was no doubt stunned to see a woman of a "certain age" in heels and leather sliding across the hood of his car. And I finally fell asleep.

The next morning I got up, grabbed a taxi, and headed to the airport for the flight home. I had a wonderful time in Edmonton, and I discovered so many new things and met so many new people. I had found things I will return to, like the Union Bank Inn and the 4th Street Promenade and the Citadel Theatre. I had bought shoes, and I had talked about one of my favourite topics, this community. And I had enjoyed my hotel and the restaurants and coffee shops. It had been a great trip, and yet when my plane began the final approach into Fort McMurray I found myself leaning forward and smiling as I caught glimpses of the neighbourhoods I know so well - Beacon Hill and Abasand, Gregoire and Saprae Creek. And when the wheels touched down I knew that while my Edmonton Escapade had been a total success I also knew something else - I was home. And I was happy to be there, just as usual.

And now my thanks!

To the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
and the lovely Crystal -
my thanks for the invitation and making the 
Edmonton Escapade possible.

To the Union Bank Inn -
thanks for the lovely stay, the fabulous service,
 the tweets of support, and the wine.

To Wener Shoes -
thanks for being there to support
my junkie shoe habit.

To Transcend Coffee -
thanks for providing the caffeine to keep me functional.

To Tres Carnales -
thanks for amazing Mexican food.

To Peter Silverstone -
thanks for the dinner and the conversation.

To Kendall Barber - 
thanks for taking the time for our shopping 
jaunt and blogger talk.

To the Citadel Theatre -
thanks for the wonderful play
and a beautiful facility.

To the people of Edmonton -
thanks for being such gracious hosts
to a neighbour from the north.

And finally to the Audi driver -
thanks for not calling the cops :)

1 comment:

  1. This is an absolutely delightful and beautifully written blog. Thanks!