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  Sunday January 25th, 2015    

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What to do about the heat (07/20/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

We hosted about forty of the (mostly younger and less apt to faint in the heat) Shakespeare actors, apprentices, interns and crew last Tuesday on the river. Our neighbors Sherm and Lori Smith offered their cottage for the event when they heard about our cottage being ransacked and all the copper plumbing ripped out (can’t have a party without water!). Terry Hawkings of Friends of Will brought the desserts — to die for — and we served sloppy joes and lots of cold salads and cool watermelon.

The Shakespeare people sweated in the incredible heat and humidity, but seemed to like seeing the river from the middle of it instead of the shore. We had three pontoon boats driven by son-in-law Dan, Curt Bittle and Sherm Smith. John was meanwhile paddling our broken runabout back to the marina. This has not been a good week for Edstroms and the river.

A few took advantage of the available kayaks, but most tried not to move too much. One energetic fellow took a run at a huge tree, ran up its trunk like Spiderman and did a flip in the air and landed on his feet. We made him do it again just to prove it wasn’t a mirage caused by excessive heat.

These people are incredibly athletic, which is obvious when you see them perform. I was talking to two actors — Doug Scholz-Carlson and Tarah Flanagan — about their fitness regime. They told me that this year many of them were into running, all having read “Born to Run,” by Christopher McDougall. The book’s premise is that feet are the best running shoes, and all those big padded running shoes do is make running harder on the body. Since running barefoot isn’t an urban, or even suburban, reality most of the time, there are shoes specially designed to wear to simulate barefoot running, called “barefoot” toe shoes. They look like Sasquatch feet, with separated toe compartments, instead of your toes being all together in the toe of the shoe. I think my foot doctor, Bill Hanson, would love them. He is always complaining about what “fashion” shoes do to a person’s feet.

Anyway, the Shakespeare people all swear by them, and they must work because they are all in tiptop physical condition. To round out their routines, they also work out at the gym. And, I saw Jon Daly riding his bike like crazy around the bike path the other day. Who would have thought that being a professional actor required conditioning similar to professional athletes’?

One of the most physical of the plays this season is Midsummer Night’s Dream, where the sprites crawl and jump and leap and run on all fours for two whole acts. Plus, the play is lots of fun. The musical, too, is very physical. Try dancing and singing (singing well) at the same time. And if you want to see what’s involved in the sword fight in Henry IV, part 1, see it in slo-mo at grsf.org and scroll down to the video Just Do’t. (And while you are there, you MUST see the GRSF video that’s gone viral called Great River Girls Dream. It’s the greatest.

There, did I take your mind off the heat for a while? And guess what? The theater where all this Shakespeare happens is air conditioned! What better way to spend a hot summer night since the Twins are cold…well, better not go there. 


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