“…Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep…”
Prospero, The Tempest, Act IV Sc. 1
On a chilly Sunday night, October 13, 2013, I was blessed to participate in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Closing Ceremony for the Elizabethan Theatre, a tradition that has been performed since 1952. Just before the final show of the outdoor season concludes with their curtain call, OSF company members gather in the green room. Eating cake, mingling and watching the final moments of Midsummer Night’s Dream I looked around and noticed some people who I had never met, others whose work I’ve seen on and off stage, and those with whom I shared dressing rooms and stages. There was a buzz in the air, mostly because we just witnessed OSF company member Brent Hinkley die at least a dozen times as Nick Bottom performing Pyramus for Hippolyta and Theseus. Finally we got the signal to quietly head upstairs to the backstage area of the Elizabethan, making sure we did not get in the way of the Midsummer cast who had to exit then re-enter for curtain call.
I grabbed the arm of Wilma Bonet, fellow cast-mate from Tenth Muse, and we were swept up in the crowd that gathered to collect little tea light candles placed in cups with sand. We awaited stage left to enter through the casement as soon as the actors exited the stage from curtain call. We entered as Nolan Peard played Greensleeves on the Cello, the stage lights on in a blue dim, the audience awaiting quietly. We streamed into the aisles, surrounding the audience with candlelight as the Midsummer cast filled the stage and left an opening up center for Tony DeBruno.
It is tradition that the actor who recites Prospero’s speech is a company member who has been with OSF for quite sometime and will not be returning the following season. Knowing this, and knowing I was not returning brought a certain weight to the ceremony for me. Hearing these words, looking out over the audience, looking up at the stars and looking upon the candlelit faces of my fellow members, I realized what an honor it is to be a part of this family. After Tony concluded the speech with a bow the company members hummed one last bar of Greensleeves with the Cello and on cue blew out all of our candles as the lights went out. Thus, we put to sleep our dear Lizzy for this season, the outdoor stage that brings wonder and awe to all who visit her, especially to we few who get to play on her stage.
Goodnight sweet Elizabeth, I will see you again…
To watch a video I made to commemorate this evening click HERE!