There are a couple of things I associate with the summer season. Having lived most of my life on the west coast of Canada, one of those things is the PNE. In recent summers, my experience of the PNE has been wishing that getting to the mainland from Victoria wasn’t such a hassle for poor students without motor vehicles so that I could go.
But now I’m in Toronto. And Toronto has the CNE. And getting from where I live to Exhibition Place is not nearly so much of a hassle. You better believe I went to the CNE. Bizarre and wonderful things I found there include:
1) This alpaca with the stylish hairdo.
“I’m not cool, I’m fabulous.”
– Mario the Alpaca
2) Origami Toronto
“Welcome to the capital of the origami-verse!”
– Robigami Ford, mayor of Origami Toronto
3) Butter Chris Hadfield
Inspired by an incident involving dehydrated dairy products aboard the ISS. Further details unknown.
Nobody in Russia knows how bears first penetrated their Internet, but most Russians suspect Putin is to blame.
Another thing I associate with summertime is seeing some form of Shakespeare in the park. In recent years, that’s been Bard on the Beach, or the Victoria Shakespeare Society’s summer productions, or both. Having made it to neither this past summer, I was genuinely concerned I would miss out. Thankfully, social media came to the rescue and pointed me in the direction of two separate outdoor Shakespeare productions.
The first was Richard III, put on by a company called ‘Shakespeare in the Ruff’. It was almost an outdoor performance when I went, but rain pushed us into the backup location: an unbelievably tiny stage in an equally tiny basement room underneath a restaurant called ‘The Magic Oven’. The audience were practically on top of the stage, which is just as well; there was no backstage area, so cast members became audience members whenever they weren’t onstage. It’s one thing to watch the maniacal schemings of Richard III unfold on a traditional stage. It’s quite another to watch the whole thing unfold within three feet of oneself.
My second outdoor Shakespeare experience this summer actually did happen outdoors. More specifically, it took place in the amphitheatre at High Park, where I saw The Taming of the Shrew. It was pretty much the polar opposite of my experience of Richard III. Instead of a tiny, rather overheated room there was a massive, open-air and pleasantly cool amphitheatre. Instead of a tiny, slightly raised stage with no set and no backstage for actors, there was a two-storey stage with a gorgeous set behind which actors were very easily concealed. Instead of no costumes at all, there were bizarre, rather ahistorical, fantastical costumes.
Oh, and whereas most of the audience for Richard III piled into their seats about five to ten minutes before the show began, I arrived a full hour before Shrew began and found that the amphitheatre already looked like this:
Not to disparage the good people of Shakespeare in the Ruff. I think they coped marvelously with the obvious disadvantages of their backup performance space, and applaud them for being so determined to put on their show, rain or shine, that they decided to commit to the space at all. Despite the vast differences between the two, both shows were truly excellent. I will be keeping an eye out for next year’s performances from both companies for sure.
With my participation in these two traditional (at least for me) summer activities accomplished, my summer is complete. Just in time, too. Orientation week with the faculty begins the day after tomorrow.
Summer, fare thee well.
Bring it on, September.