Festival composer acquired!

Accomplished composer, pianist, actor, writer and musical director Brian Gill of Zurich Switzerland has graciously agreed to assume the duties of Composer and Musical Director to the Susquehanna Shakespeare Festival.  This is great cause for celebration.

Brian Gill, composer & musical director

He has already composed two of the four or five songs for next season’s original adaptation As You Like It; A Robin Hood Tale.  I look forward to collaborating with him with immense pleasure.  His ideas have already proved invigorating and inspiring….and the songs he’s finished are delightful.

Brian Gill....

Posted in Susquehanna Shakespeare Festival | 1 Comment

The roses are back!

roses dancing.....

After some down time when the Japanese beetles ate practically every bud and bloom in sight- they’re all back!  Minus beetles- blooming gorgeously along with the rose of sharon, black-eyed susans, hydrangeas, and crape myrtle. I choose my roses for color and scent.  Each new bloom releases it’s own slightly different perfume….each one unique.


the bed I see while washing dishes....

brand new climber with a stunning scent

citrus bloom.....

ladies in white- perfumed...

The woody hydrangea have exploded in a froth of white blossom that will gradually turn pinkish as the fall approaches.  They are in the front side yard right by the door and every time I go in and out there I stop to hug them.  They are giant somewhat cone-shaped blooms… extremely huggable.

woody hydrangea exploding with huggableness...

The apples are ripe and I’ve been harvesting them – a colander full every day.  I’m making my apple compote and freezing it in freezer baggies for the winter and feeling quite proud of myself.  The pears will be next- they’re still mostly green and hard as rocks…but a few have started to mellow into a bit of yellow.  The peaches are behind them- fuzzy and green with one or two just beginning to turn a tiny bit pink.

I’m out in the garden very early.  By the time eight o’clock rolls around it’s too hot and muggy to do anything outside.  This summer has been brutal in that regard.

ripe for picking....my darling fujis

starting to ripen....

Posted in In the Garden

Festival update, 7/10/10…

I’ve been slowly working through the list of possible funding contacts so generously provided by Jim, and will be meeting with the Public Relations person from the big plant across the river, Cherokee, next week to discuss possibility- which is exciting.  I’ve also made initial e-mail contact with a representative from Geisinger- our local, world-class hospital.  I’m hoping I can build relationships with local institutions and businesses that as they come to know us, will begin to feel a sense of ownership and pride regarding the Festival.  I want to bring the shows to the patients, their families, and care-givers up the hill for one thing; the children in particular.  I also plan to contact the local primary and secondary schools about bringing interactive programs with performance elements into the classroom.

Megan Sabers, Kaziah Myren-Zobel, Dan Acor, Ian Lowe & Michael Tkatch

I’ve been working on the adaptation of Shakespeare’s woodsy comedy, As You Like It,  into a Robin Hood tale for next summer.  It’s great fun.  I’m blending in bits of other Shakespeare plays  that fit (Cymbeline, and 2 gents so far) and bits inspired by the Howard Pyle classic written in the 1850’s.  The Shakespeare is all love and relationships with very little fighting or indeed story movement.  This makes it ripe for a little livening up with Robin Hood and his adventures which are of necessity, plot-driven and full of action- fighting of all sorts…and of course-  much shooting of arrows.  It’s remarkably easy to transmute the characters from the Shakespearean to the Robin Hoodian.

Sara Tessarvich, Michael Tkatch, Kate Hughes & Steve Tipton

There are several songs in the merry greenwood that I hope to incorporate if I can persuade my brilliant friend, and school fellow from SUNY Purchase, Brian Gill, to compose melodies for.  He lives in Zürich, in the old town there- and is a Swiss citizen now, having spend most of his adult life there.  I visited him there once and he took me up into the alps.  Unforgettable!  One of my favorite experiences of the fantastical natural world we live in.

Posted in Susquehanna Shakespeare Festival

Now blooming…7/10/10….

the first of last years fancy lily bulbs- a bit burnt at the edges...

We have been in a drought here- which finally broke last night (blessed relief) and I’ve feared for my fancy lily buds.  I planted these bulbs last fall, and the great oblong buds – no matter how much I’ve watered, seemed all to be dying…but yesterday morning one bloomed!  That one was followed by three more today, and though a bit burnt around the edges they are splendid.

Crape myrtle against the hydrangeas

The crape myrtle I planted last summer is also blooming and looking startingly devine against a back-drop of the blue and purple hydrangea.  I’m working on shaping the wegelia in front of the hydrangea.  It’s a rather sprawly plant and blooms earlier.  I don’t so much like the way it looks when not in bloom,  so I don’t want it to obscure the hydrangea which I delight in gazing at along with it’s neighboring myrtle and just now burgeoning into bloom great clumps of black-eyed susans, while I stand at the kitchen sink washing the always present dishes.  I’ve decided to try and shape it into a tree.  I snipped the lower branches just now and it looks happier….like a shepherdess picking her way through a dewy field.

purple con flowers with bumble bee

The brand new giant phlox are also blooming in stages- different colors open at different times which is interesting, and they are lovely on their long daisy-like stems, and the daisies themselves!  Drifts of white between the evergreens along the fence and across the front bed.  They are shastas, and amazingly fecund- reproducing massively every season…as indeed do the black-eyed susans.  The purple cone flower, in continuing bloom- on the other hand, is slower to multiply.

a smaller sort of day-lily under the pear tree at the back of the garden....

Posted in In the Garden


view of part of the back fence

My gigantic 5 year old butter-fly bush is filling the front garden with color and scent as the Japanese beetles devour sundry of the roses.  They seem to find the white climber particularly tasty while leaving the pink Simplicity along the back fence, and the long-stemmed ones under the kitchen window pretty much alone.  Interesting.

4 year old butter-fly bush...

There are lilies everywhere, and my little patch of glads from the grocery store are faithfully emerging as they have the last four years.  No other bulbs I’ve bought at the grocery store have ever come up at all- these are thereby extraordinary.

rapturous day-lily

grocery store glads...

I’m eating a bowl of raspberries, black-berries, and the last few strawberries in yogurt as I write this…and a lovely scallop squash sits on my drainboard ready to be sauteed- it might be awhile.  The weather has been punishingly hot and humid and my anemic self goes completely flaccid in such conditions.

A volunteer tomato plant has sprouted up by the new strawberry/ dill bed at the foot of the huge apricot tree.  I shall have to stake it soon, and the one I actually planted as well.  I’ll use the stakes from the audience corral when the show closes Friday.

The die-back Hydrangea continue to delight in blues, and purple…as my soil is acidic.  The woody Hydrangea haven’t started budding yet, though the Crape Myrtle I planted last year to help shade the die-back Hydrangea is about to explode into bloom.  In blissful ignorance I planted my die-backs where they get too much sun.  I also didn’t realize how much water they need- especially when in nearly full sun.  I give them extra water now, and as the myrtle grows they’ll be more comfortable.  They thrive in dappled- or- Appaloosa light.

Posted in In the Garden

Up and running…6/18

We opened Wednesday to an appreciative crowd, and the show took off- as shows do, with the rush of the final ingredient- the audience.

I printed half the programs in green and half in blue and instructed the blue program holders to cheer for the Montagues and the green program holders to cheer for the Capulets.  They were very vocal in the prologue but quieted down subsequently…and I like my Shakespeare interactive- like it was back in the day.  In talking with the actors about generating more involved audience response, Kate came up with the idea of having them shout ‘NO KISSING” whenever kissing of any kind goes on.  Part of the pre-show is that Steve and Kate are a couple.  He refuses to do his parts (Mercutio and Lord Capulet) unless there is NO KISSING between Dan and Kate (Romeo & Juliet).  So, I tried that last night and we got a fantastic response.  The actors also exhorted their house supporters to be more vocal throught the course of the play.  The kids in particular got a charge out of all the shouting and cheering and were having a ball being part of the show.

Last night's audience

Of course after opening night I thought no one would come Thursday and indeed by 6:28 (for a 6:30 go) there was NO-ONE there.  BUT two big groups arrived right at 6:30 and then people kept straggling in until about 7.  I think some people are under the impression that we start at 7 because the music concerts start at 7.  Also, my mother just called to say that there is publicity in the papers this morning with pictures and in three different places they list the start time as 6, 6:30, AND 7!!  We’ll be starting late tonight.

Kate Hughes as Juliet with Michael Tkatch as the nurse...

Steve Tipton as Mercutio...

It was a great show again, last night- the actors are having fun playing to and with the audience….and I’m still laughing.  I also discovered something uber cool about the camera I borrowed from my sister.  It has a setting that takes sequential action shots – like you see in flip-books.  This means I can get fabulous action photos.

The nurse off to stop some kissing...Steve and Michael...

Dan & Alec in the Romeo, Tybalt fight...

Posted in Susquehanna Shakespeare Festival


Dan Acor is Abrahamlet complete with glorious mutton-chops...

We open tonight at 6:30 in Danville’s Memorial Park.  This is the moment when I feel – like the hostess a half hour before the party starts- that nobody will come.  I sent the press releases, the flyers went out and up- the cast have friends and family…. SOMEONE will be there.  If not, and I’m the only one there-  I’ll get to see the show again, and I can’t wait.

The nurse has a new hat, and oh my it suits her!!  Dan has mastered the speedy application of mutton chops for the opening brawl, the prop gun is finished, and I found a torch for the Queen Mab scene.  All is right with the world.

Michael Tkatch as the nurse...complete with new hat.

Alec Hettinger as Tybalt, Michael Tkatch as the nurse and Kate Hughes as Juliet

Posted in Susquehanna Shakespeare Festival