We started out the day with breakfast and then we went to the Festival Theatre for a meeting at 11:00 AM with Christine Seip, a meeting involving friendship and our connection with the Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. We did a little shopping at the Festival Theatre Store before heading to our meeting. While there I saw actors coming in and out of the cafeteria where we met with Christine, notably Jamie Mac, an actor who had been at one of our events in Chicago.
While at the Festival Theatre, we checked out to see if we could get tickets to see Birds of a Kind, as we had heard good things about it. We were able to purchase them for today so we went back to our B&B and then at 2:00 PM, walked down the street to the Studio Theatre.
I hope I can get this straight. Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Festival (we talked to him while seeing the play, right after intermission), checked out a book in 2006, Trickster Travels by Natalie Zemon Davis. A friend of his, Gene Garthwaite, from Dartmouth College, thought it might make a good play. As an aside, he thought so because he had gotten good material from Natalie Zemon Davis for the film, Le Retour de Martin Guerre, a favorite of mine. The subject of the book was Leo Africanus (Leo also went by the name of al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan), a historical figure who is supposed to be the inspiration for Othello. Leo was a diplomat born in Granada who was captured by pirates and then turned into a human gift to Pope Leo X. In exchange for his liberty, the Pope asked him to convert to Christianity. He wrote a series of books including one on Africa. His story inspired the central theme of 2019, Breaking Boundaries. In 2007, Antoni Cimolino offered to Wajdi Mouawad, the Artistic Director of the French Theatre of the National Arts Centre, who is also a writer, the opportunity to write the play. Wajdi was acquainted with Natalie and was in love with her work. To make a long story short, his adaptation of Trickster Travels and the story of Leo Africanus comes to us in the form of Birds of a Kind in 2019.
It was a long play and despite the first act being one hour and forty minutes, I never fell asleep. It was a love story of a young Jewish man in New York, originally from Berlin, falling in love with an American girl who happened to be a Muslim. Their journey takes them to the Holy Land and a visit with the young man’s grandmother (estranged from his father). This followed a family passover meal in which the young man’s parents went ballistic about his involvement with a Muslim girl. It is a typical love story which given the difference in religion, I won’t even explain. The journey involves lovers, parents, and grandparents. It is the search for identity while dealing with cultural differences. It was one of the finest plays I have ever seen and a perfect play to go along with Nathan the Wise and even starring most of the same actors in various roles.
We ended the day after a delightful meal at Keystone Alley, by seeing The Little Shop of Horrors, a nothing but intense several hours of fun. What a day!