Circus Front Row Seats – Ashland Tidings
Let’s see if I understood correctly …
On April 30, Governor Kate Brown classified 15 Oregon counties – including Jackson – as being in the extreme risk level for COVID-19 transmission … which meant restaurants and venues should refuse domestic customers for an indefinite period of up to three weeks.
The doors close.
THREE DAYS LATER, the governor retracts restrictions on Jackson County (and the other 14 years), lowering the threat level to high risk and signaling the resumption of indoor activities from May 7.
The doors open.
It was to be a three day period!
It’s no wonder that so many people following the bounce of this regulatory ping pong are tricked into believing something smells wrong, doesn’t pass the sniff test, and someone is trying to qualify for the credit. Oregon Cattle Manure Tax.
(This is such a thing… Clauses 6 through 11 of House Bill 2066 of 2017, to be exact. There’s even a cattle manure tax credit calculator available to you, for those who want to know more. ‘ask about what some family members are saying.)
Instead of slackening my nose, however, my thoughts turned to Mongo – the awesome giant, riding and slapping horses portrayed by Alex Karras in Mel Brooks’ 1974 documentary “Blazing Saddles.”
During the film’s dramatic re-enactment of a famous bean-eating scene, Mongo – not exactly a who, more of a what – sits alone, chained to a pole in front of his own campfire … persevering despite the stench all around him.
Later, after being deceived and captured by the sheriff and his sidekick, Mongo’s philosophical side emerges upon realizing that he has been moved onto the chessboard by the machinations of others.
“Mongo only pawn … in the game of life.”
And so have restaurants, cinemas, theater companies and concert halls in Rogue Valley in the months following the partial reopens allowed under state regulations.
Ashland’s Oregon Cabaret Theater had a unique impact on the Up-and-Coming, where the production of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” had its opening night on April 29, then was closed, and now … well, you know ….
Its status as an auditorium and restaurant has put OCT through the ringer for the past year or so, although in true theatrical style it has managed to maintain an upbeat personality through the changing winds.
“Don’t worry about us,” the Cabaret posted on Facebook after the April 30 shutdown, “this theater company is resilient.
OCT’s management, to their credit and to the delight of their loyal supporters, even managed to poke fun at themselves and the circumstances a bit – claiming last month that their last show of the 2022 season would be the first. World of “Christmas in Quarantine.”
Featuring musical numbers such as “Another Fight at Game Board Night”, “I Honestly Don’t Know Why We’re Screaming” and “Please Let This Be Over Soon”, the animated version of the traditional OCT holiday finale was unfortunately only a ruse… Announced, so to speak, on April 1… but it was a moment of levity in the midst of chaos.
(Too bad, actually: a production number for “I honestly don’t know why we scream” would bring back so many treasured family memories.)
In Jacksonville, the hill hasn’t been brought to life by the sound of music at Britt festivals since the 2019 season – but that hasn’t dampened its leaders’ enthusiasm for his eventual return.
In a column written for the May issue of Jacksonville Review magazine, Donna Briggs (festival president and CEO) made it clear that there remains hope for a sound summer in 2021, if “a strategy of reopening thoughtful and sure ”was given by the State.
Beyond that, however, Briggs wrote that Britt fans have questioned the chances of keeping the festivals going.
“Music lovers fear they won’t be able to weather the storm,” Briggs wrote.
“Let me be very clear: no matter what happens this year – season, partial season or no season – with your support, Britt will be back bigger and better than ever in 2022.”
Meanwhile, the shows continue. Rogue Theater Company stages “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” with a cast including members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, at Grizzly Peak Winery; the Randall Theater Company’s production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” was on track to begin this weekend; and the collaborative theater project in Medford is scheduled to begin its three-week series of “into the Breeches” on May 13.
The lesser known of these three shows, “Breeches” is a comedy centered on a Shakespearean production determined to continue in 1942, despite the intrusion of World War II.
“A tribute,” director Todd Nielsen said on CTP’s Facebook page, “to the power of theater and community”.
And that’s what keeps propelling the arts in Rogue – the nature of community inherent in its creative purpose.
This includes (at the risk of exposing yourself to sausage making) the acrobats and contortionists behind bringing you Tempo every Friday.
I got a seat at the ringside as this magic trick unfolded every week – juggling schedules and rescheduling, taming the comings and goings and comings and goings of the wild beasts of closings and reopens, keeping the balls in the air and the plates spin … all in a circus of ever-changing circumstances.
In this year when we have all been pawns in the game of life, crossing has been worth more than a hill of beans.
Mail Tribune Editor-in-Chief Robert Galvin’s Cattle Manure Tax Credit pays wages to [email protected] … and an order of fries.