Monday, June 29, 2009

Oberon Up North 2009 -- day 2

Horton Bay General Store where Hemmingway hung out as a youngster.
Day two of Oberon Up North had a lovely resonance for me. This year's Michigan Reads highlight was Hemingway's Nick Adams stories. Tom Hunter took us to the site of those stories at Horton Bay on Lake Charlevoix (Pine Lake to Ernest) where we visited  Hemingway's youthful haunts, the birthplace of the great man's genius.
Richard, Tom and Rosey sit on porch with Hemingway in photo on site.
We stopped at the Horton Bay General Store, owned by Chip and Claudia Lorenger, where we enjoyed their great hospitality for lunch that included my first Smithwick's (say smithicks) Irish Ale, Ireland's oldest ale now brewed by Guinness -- very good. Richard kept pointing out all the places that Hemmingway had sat or touched, but we were undaunted by his cynical references to another birthplace we all know -- at least Ernest Hemingway actually wrote the stories attributed to him.
Red Fox Inn and general store are both on the National Register of Historic Places.
After lunch we walked across the yard to the Red Fox Inn where we spent time in the bookstore and I bought a copy of the Nick Adams Stories (Scribner, 1972) that shop owner James Vol Hartwell had highlighted by adding the names of the Michigan towns where each story is set. Both the general store and the Red Fox Inn are on the National Register of Historic Places, and are listed by the Michigan Hemingway Society in their "Hemingway Related Sites" in the Horton Bay, Walloon Lake, Petosky, Harbor Springs Area -- a compilation by society founder Ken Marek.
Front porch of the Red Fox Inn and the Hemingway bookstore in Horton's Bay.
We returned to Torch Lake before the storm and that evening enjoyed a feast prepared by Rosie -- and a bottle of Smithicks!

Oberon Up North 2009 -- day 1

Torch Lake, Michigan
This year Oberon Up North was about exuberance and awe. Our visit to Interlochen Center for the Arts' Interlochen Shakespeare Festival provided a Taming of the Shrew unlike any Shakespeare performance I've ever seen. Dustin Tucker and Laura Ames Mittelstaedt portrayed Petruchio and Kate as a lion tamer and knife thrower in William Church's exuberant circus of a production. From the first act when Kate whirled knives at her terrified sister played by Ana Luderowski -- tied hand and foot to a giant wheel -- joyous imagery burnished this frolic a play. 
Laura Ames Mittelstaedt as Kate in Interlochen's Taming of the Shrew
Marshall Maynard Fredericks' "Two Bears" sculpture fit into the circus theme outside the Harvey Theater on the Interlochen campus.
Sue Width, Tom Hunter and Richard Joyrich admire Fredericks' bears.
Oberoner and Interlochen Market Research Manger Gordon Berg escorted our group around the huge Interlochen campus in a stretch golf cart.
Gordon Berg escorting Oberons at Interlochen Center for the Arts
He introduced us to Costume Shop Supervisor Candy Hughes to gave us a tour of the two-year-old facility.
Gordon Berg, Rosey & Tom Hunter and Candy Hughes at Interlochen's costume shop
Hughes said she had been designing costumes at Interlochen for twenty years -- her expertise showed in her masterful organization of materials -- like shoes.
Candy Hughes contemplating ingenious shoe storage at Interlochen's costume shop
. . . and crinolines.
That night I was forced out of my tent and into the Hunter's cottage by a deflated air mattress at 2 a.m., or I never would have encountered the monstrous star-filled sky filling the moonless night with crystal light. I saw a falling star amid the tumult and count myself beyond fortune in my wealth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boston Globe reviewer pans Bate's new bard bio

Wellesley College English teacher William E. Cain blasted Jonathan Bate's new book, Soul of the Age: a Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare in the June 21, 2009 edition of the Boston Globe in his review "Will we hardly knew ye -- and still don't".
Cain complains that Shakespeare bios in general are unhelpful and irritating when biographers ". . . lacking plentiful facts, fills pages with assertion, guesswork, and speculation about how his or her overview pertains to Shakespeare’s life."
Cain complains specifically of Bate:
Reading “Soul of the Age’’ requires much patience, in order to endure Bate’s penchant for guessing, speculating, and surmising. In one of his early chapters, in the span of just two pages you will encounter phases such as: seems to have been, it is highly probable, this was usually, it is highly probable, it is a fair inference, would probably therefore. It all amounts to a fragile fabric stretching across a void.
 This is a complaint long held by those of us who are interested in the authorship question.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A word to the wise is enough -- ideas on how to share the Oxfordian POV

This brilliant article by James Harkin of the Financial Times spreads light and heat on the post-paper world and could be a primer on how to launch the authorship issue into Jovian orbit: 
The author as performer by James Harkin, Published June 19, 2009 Financial Times (

Harkin said: 
When almost everything is available in a digital world of zeroes and ones, the thing that is impossible to duplicate is the intensely involving experience of live performance. The flamboyant talks (TED) described above are rarely interactive in the conventional sense; they don’t encourage any kind of formal participation from the audience. Instead, they speak to a desire for an intellectual experience involving enough to soak up all our attention. James Harkin, FT, 06/19/09

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tom Hunter reports on June meeting

Dear Oberon,
Now that was a good old-fashioned Oberon meeting Thursday night.  Great conversation.  Great cookies from the Safety Director. A great video.
We welcomed prospective member Earl Mandell to the fold with returning new member Bruna Lilly. We saw the 30 minute DVD “The Implausible Mr. Shakespeare,” a raucous, pointed attack on the tradition that William of Stratford is the author of the works with plenty of examples of why that tradition just doesn’t make sense.  It contains one of the best analyses of the goofy Droeshout engraving at the front of the First Folio which people have thought to represent Shakespeare’s appearance now for 400 years. The video provoked a lively discussion afterword.
We will probably be ordering printed copies of our Oberon Blog which just might become a kind of yearbook for us.  Linda Theil has looked into it, and although we haven’t made a final decision yet, when we do, it appears that copies might be available for $40 to $70 dollars.  More info later, but please let me know if you have an interest in a copy for yourself.
We also need indications of interest for the following:
Michigan Shakespeare Festival August 1 afternoon and evening,As You  Like It and The Tempest.  This is coming up fast, and we need to get the planning started.
The Globe Theater UMS production in October in Ann Arbor at the Power Center of Love’s Labours Lost.  We can get a group discount with ten or more.  We already have indications of interest from eight of us.  Please e-mail me back because the reservations need to be made in a couple of weeks.  Most probable performance:  Sunday matinee October 25.  The Sunday performance has a 20% group discount on tickets costing from $30 to $60.
A two day stay at Stratford probably in August or September, depending on the scheduling, to see as many Shakespeare and/or other plays as we can cram in for the time we are there.  This year, Ben Jonson’s Bartholemew Fair will be playing.  I’m looking forward to that one. Let me know if you have an interest in finding out more.
Oberon Up North is already upon us. It will take place next week. Centerpieces are the annual campus tour with our friend Gord and on Friday evening the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival production of The Taming of the Shrew.  After meeting on Saturday, we will be treated to a mystery tour.  Look for a report soon after.

Tom Hunter
Oberon Chair

Authorship as metaphor

On June 14, 2009 the New York Times published an article in their sports section titled "Author, Author - Did A.W. Tillinghast Really Design Bethpage Black"  by Charles McGrath. The story compared the question of who designed this year's U.S. Open (golf) course to the authorship issue. The Shakespeare authorship issue has not only "seeped into the culture", as SOS President Matthew Cossolotto has said, it has become recognized enough for a sports reporter to use it as a metaphor for the question of whole really designed the U.S. Open golf course.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal. Today the New York Times. Tomorrow the world. (Le Monde?)

In any event, the article cried out for a response, so here is the one I sent:

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the New York Times for putting Shakespeare where he belongs--on the sports page ("Author, Author," June 15). Golf, no less. Infact, there is evidence that Shakespeare was quite an athlete himself, more in the line of winning tilting championships and receiving awards from the Queen. And don't forget hawking. And tennis.

I have only one quibble with your application of the authorship issue to the question of who designed this year's U.S. Open course, Bethpage Black (which sounds more like a Noel Coward character). It is that the Oxfordians, not the Strats, appeal to textual evidence to illustrate the experiences Shakespeare drew upon to write the plays, experiences sadly lacking in the biography of the Stratford glover's son.

Also, the true Shakespeare was much like golf course designer A. W. Tillinghast, "a rakish high-liver, a drinker,...a backer of failed Broadway musicals." Well, maybe not Broadway. Maybe not musicals either, but clearly a backer of acting companies as was his father before him.

In any case, Shakespeare's genius encompassed all sports, including golf. After all, we know that even as Brutus was working on controlling a mean fade, "the unkindest cut of all," he says, "Good words are better than bad strokes." Even Caesar would have agreed with that.

Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ohio Shakespeare Festival in Akron

The Ohio Shakespeare Festival will present As You Like It at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays July 9-25 and Romeo & Juliet at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays July 30 through August 16 at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron, Ohio. Buy tickets online or call 330-673-8761 for more information.

Shakespeare's Scottish play in Royal Oak, July 2009

Water Works Theater Company, Inc. will present Shakespeare's Scottish play in July at Starr Jaycee Park in Royal Oak, MI. The schedule is: July 23-26, July 30-August 2 and August 6-9, 2009, beginning at 8:00 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 7:00 pm on Sundays. Bring your own seating to the event. Buy tickets online at: for $15 each plus a $2 online processing fee. The website says: You may also purchase tickets (cash or check only) at the Starr Jaycee Park box office one hour before each performance. Starr Jaycee Park is on 13 Mile Road between Main and Crooks, two miles east of Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, MI.

Midsummer Night's Dream performed in Flint area parks June 18-21

The Flint area Shakespeare in the Park production of Midsummer Nights' Dream -- produced by Flint parks project director, Kay Kelly -- is free to the public provided by a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation. Burton's James Cech will play Puck and Flint's Brian Haggard will play Bottom. The event began last week in Flint's riverfront Kearsley Park; the remainder of the schedule includes:
Thursday, June 18, 7 p.m. - For-Mar Nature Preserve, Burton
Friday, June 19, 7 p.m. - Clover Beach, Linden
Saturday, June 20, 7 p.m. - Flushing County Park, Flushing Twp
Sunday, June 21, 7 p.m. - Crossroads Village, Genesee Twp
Information according to an article by Chad Swiatecki blogged June 10, 2009 on M-Live. Thanks to Doug T. for bringing this event to our attention. LT

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tom Hunter highlights June meeting

Dear Oberon,

Just a brief reminder that our regular meeting for June is this Thursday, June 18, at our regular meeting place, the Farmington Public Library on 12 Mile Rd. between Orchard Lake Rd. and Farmington Road. Doors of Conference Room A open at 6:45.

We will be making plans for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival on Saturday, August 1, including a presentation table which the Festival has promised to make available to us. Also on the calendar is the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (at which the MSF is taking aim!), the University Musical Society's Globe Theater presentation of Love's Labor's Lost in October, and the SF/SOS national conference in Houston in November.

Plus we will plan on taking a closer look at the MSF's two Shakespeare offerings for this year, The Tempest
and As You Like It in July.

Remember that starting in July we will be meeting on Wednesday evenings in an attempt to better accommodate schedules of our members. Let me know if that will cause a hardship for you. We value the presence of each and every one of you at our meetings. We have a unique mix of personalities focused on our common love of Shakespeare. Heck, we just enjoy being together.

See you all on Thursday!

Your faithful chairperson,
Tom Hunter

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tom Hunter reviews May meeting

Dear Oberon,

Looking ahead, our next Oberon meeting will be Thursday, June 18, at the Farmington Library; room opens 6:45 p.m.

We are most pleased to announce that, courtesy of the Adult Learning Institute, Oberon will be making a donation to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival this year.  I will be presenting “The Real Shakespeare” to ALI at their meeting on October 1, featuring Ron Destro’s “Who Really Wrote as Shake-speare,” which we ran at the UNbirthday party in April to good reviews.
Looking back, we covered a lot of territory at our May meeting.  It was good to welcome from the ALI new Oberon member Del M.

Final plans have been made for this year’s Oberon Up North, which will take place at or around Torch Lake at the end of June and will include an afternoon at Interlochen, a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at Interlochen’s Shakespeare Festival, and a surprise junket into Michigan’s literary history. This year’s participants will be Richard, Linda, Sue, Tom and Rosey.  Although Oberon Up North is open to our general membership, we are discovering that it can be difficult for members to commit 2-3 days four hours away. Nevertheless, I am urging you to consider it for next year.  It usually occurs at the end of June. Perhaps our Interlochen contact Gord can advise us of the 2010 dates some time soon.  Please ask me for further details.

Planning for Oberon Up North has given us some understanding of what we need for Oberon to be able to reach out to the rest of the state as part of its educational activity.  Those plans are prominent on this year’s agenda.  Some ideas have been to approach communities through their libraries, schools, great books clubs, adult learning groups, and so on.  All ideas are welcome. Please let me know your thoughts.

Richard Joyrich gave his annual report on speakers at the Portland Concordia Conference in April.

Editor Linda Theil’s first SOS Newsletter has gone to press.  Please look for yours by mid-month. If you are not yet an SOS member , please consider joining.  The low annual dues include the newsletter. This edition will have Richard’s much more detailed review of the Concordia Conference plus an article by yours truly about Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ finding beyond a reasonable doubt for Oxford as the true Shakespeare.

Don’t forget our June 18 meeting.  We will be planning our second extravaganza of the year, our October celebration of the 400thanniversary of the Sonnets.  The meeting will also feature a 20 minute video, “The Implausible Mr. Shakespeare.”

Finally, the University Musical Society has announced that it will be presenting the Globe Theater’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in Ann Arbor October 20-25.  If it is anything like Mark Rylance’s Globe TheaterTwelfth Night of a few years ago, it is not to be missed. I am looking into group rates.

Yours truly,
Tom Hunter
Oberon Chair