Sunday, July 10, 2011

Like Shakespeare in the Park but different

Jane and I were in Boone, North Carolina last weekend for the fourth of July. I was pointing out some of the local sites, including Horn in the West, the work of historical theater offered al fresco that tells the story of Daniel Boone. The conversation went something like this:

ME: So there is an outdoor drama here, Horn in the West. It's about Daniel Boone. There is another one in Cherokee, NC. It's called Unto these Hills. It's about the Cherokees. When I was little, we went to another one in a town called Snow Camp, North Carolina. It was called Sword of Peace. It was about Quakers. Of course the most famous outdoor drama was The Lost Colony. It was about the settlement that disappeared during early settlement of the colonies. Do you have Outdoor Dramas in Oregon?"

JANE: I am not sure I know what you are talking about.

ME: You know, a historical drama, in an amphitheater. Don't they do that in Oregon? Andy Griffith was Sir Walter Raleigh in the Lost Colony.

(It's a sign that I have veered dangerously off course into Tarheel nostalgia when I offer Andy Griffith as a point of reference. This sometimes happens when we talk about the Pilot Mountain, the interesting geologic formation to the north of Winston-Salem.)

Internet research tells me that North Carolina outdoor dramas also include From this Day Forward and outdoor drama about the Waldenses. (For those not familiar with the Waldenses, they were a religious sect from southeast France dating back to the 1100's that survived persecution in their homeland and came to North Carolina in 1893 to establish a "colony" in Valdese.)

There is also multimedia production about Jesus and some very respectable actors in Asheville that do Shakespeare in a park.

A comparable query suggests that Oregon has an outdoor drama entitled the Happy Canyon Pageant but sensibly sticks to Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan.

And it turns out that all these data come from the Institute of Outdoor Drama conveniently located at East Carolina University, suggesting that I am not alone in noting this interesting phenomena.

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