Shakespeare and SB 1070?

I did everything a ‘good mother’ should do before leaving on vacation–made sure that all my kids had needed appointments scheduled, decluttered what would serve as a bachelor pad for my husband and son while I was away, did mountains of laundry–even wrote all the blogs you read last week while I was in Cedar City, Utah.

I vacation about once every ten years or so, though this was my second trip of the decade. A few years ago, I enjoyed a week in San Francisco with my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who feels more at home there than anywhere else she has traveled. The Embarcadero, by the way, is a glorious place to witness Fourth of July fireworks.

Most recently, I was in Cedar City, Utah with my youngest daughter, Lizabeth, who has been attending acting classes with the Utah Shakespearean Festival education program (which I’ll share more about in a future post). At first, I planned to leave my laptop at home–a clear signal to my daughter that she’s more important than work.

I ended up taking it along for recreational purposes–finding tourist attractions, learning more about all things Shakespeare while we enjoyed the Utah Shakespearean Festival. I felt a bit less guilty when Lizabeth shot text messages back and forth to friends as we drove around Cedar City in search of ‘slow food’ and serenity.

My first full day in town, I attended the “Works in Progress” show presented on the campus of Southern Utah University by acting and directing students at various stages in their Shakespeare journeys. 

As in all good love affairs, those who adore Shakespeare seem to find something new and intriguing at every turn. I’m beginning to appreciate, for the first time, the full measure of his hilarity and even the sexiness of some of his work.

Shakespeare appears to be my favorite sort of fellow–intelligent but rather odd. Astute. Sarcastic. Curious. Playful.  He’s an easy guy to hang around with for several days, and clearly habit forming.

Of course, we also did our part for Valley theater while we were there as Lizabeth ran around town sporting her black “Childsplay” t-shirt complete with their “Theatre for Everyone” motto and website. I hope some of the families who enjoyed the festival together will find their way to Arizona to witness one of our own theatrical wonders.

We were in Cedar City together as the national news was taking note of Arizona’s SB 1070 legislation, so we had only to turn on the television (which we did infrequently) to catch a glimpse of home. Coincidentally, I got to chatting with one of Lizabeth’s Shakespeare friends about immigration-related issues.

She shared with me her family’s own story of immigrating to the U.S. many generations ago from Italy–reflecting on the sadness felt by many immigrants who love their homeland but feel no choice but to leave it in order to provide richer opportunities for the children they love. 

She also spoke of the young Spanish-speaking students she tutors in phonics (actors often work in more than one profession to pay the bills and find other outlets for their creativity). She described their eagerness to learn English, and the pride they feel at being able to translate between Spanish- and English-speakers–reflecting that they serve as a beautiful bridge of sorts from one country, from one generation, to the next.

I found it hard not to pull out my laptop at times when Lizabeth was napping during the day. We were on festival time–enjoying shows at night and sleeping in each day.  Tuesday morning, after seeing a CNN broadcast on the big screen at a local restaurant, I decided to search for “art and immigration.”

The first thing I found was “Alto Arizona“–a site dedicated to visual art expressing opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070. Whatever your take on this issue, exploration of the art it inspires is fascinating. Perhaps our own local museums can enlighten us all a bit more about the long history of art in immigration-related discourse.

Like the works of Shakespeare, immigration-related issues are rich in depth and breadth. Both are worthy of further exploration…


Note: Lizabeth and I spent a week together in Cedar City, Utah. Watch for future posts about our adventures, the plays we enjoyed together (including “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Macbeth”) and all things family-friendly in and around the Utah Shakespearean Festival (which runs through Oct 23 this year).

Coming up: Happenings at the Herberger Theater Center, Movie news and reviews, Thespian festival strikes again, Shakespeare and the superintendent, AriZoni award nominees (please send photos of 2009-2010 nominated shows to ASAP for possible inclusion in this post)


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