A turning toward autumn
On a recent early morning my friend, blogger Stephanie Sugars, alerted me to the slight chill in the air, a turning toward autumn. She expresses it as the “arc into autumn,” and suggests we “look up at the sky and stand close to a plant.”
Just then, in our yard I noticed beyond the towering oak, above the encircling hedge, a leggy cherry plum tree already turning a fiery red. Later that evening, driving down Arnold, south toward Sonoma, the setting summer sun emblazoned the adjacent oak-covered hillside of the regional park with a golden light.
Yes, the turn is ahead, and yet there is still time to revel … in summer’s passing, in autumn’s turning and in the bountiful beauty that life and art have to offer.
In that realm, I have two suggestions for your August enjoyment. Both of my favorite local theater companies are presenting shows that you won’t want to miss. The inventive and revolutionary modern theatre group Narrow Way Stage Company features the original play “Alice: The Rebellion of Wonderland,” written by Tony Ginesi and directed by Nick Christenson at the Sonoma Community Center this month. And just down the road at Boisset’s beautiful Buena Vista Winery, the zany and lively Avalon Players perform a “circus, gypsy, modern” version of Shakespeare’s most popular play, “The Taming of the Shrew.” Kate Kennedy, a master director remains true to the Bard’s very word but always take her shows to the edge, keeping a modern audience, young and old alike, entertained.
In fact both shows are great for all ages, though most appropriately fourth grade through grandparents.
Wild ride through Wonderland
Let’s start with Narrow Way’s “Alice.” It’s a raucous, wild ride that takes you back to a Wonderland peopled by mad men and women who gather at tea parties to talk politics. It’s not a tea party unlike those pesky vociferous conservatives of today, but with radical leanings in other directions, including up, down, sideways and none at all. Political jokes abound, and fly out so fast that you’ll never catch them all.
The play is energetic and fast-moving. In fact, in one scene as Alice and her crazy cohorts raced out through the audience they sent a whole row of chairs skidding across the floor. Luckily, that was first night and no patrons sat therein.
It is that very liveliness that gives force and energy to this show. Local Sonoman Tony Ginesi wrote the script including puns, riddles, quips and gags of all kinds. Tony is also the master of sound, set and light. This time he outdid himself. The unique and magical lighting at the beginning leads you right into an alternate universe (and delivers you home again at the end), while the complicated and layered stage is a true delight. “Alice” provides a masterpiece in the realm of staging, directing too. It’s a gem.
Yet, for all its wild crazy, comic action, the play has a poignant and thoughtful side, where Alice seeks to save Wonderland and finds herself, through the power of imagination and dreams. Nick, Tony and their entire cast and crew have outdone themselves in a show that creates life and sparks a desire for traveling through your own imagination.