Excursions for the Square, a Philadelphia based travel agency that features cultural bus trips open to all, but specializing in widows who no longer care to drive more than an hour or two in one direction, offered a six-day excursion that included four locations that were on my wish list, two of which were the Shaw and the Shakespeare Festivals in Canada. I signed up immediately.
Trips with excursions are expensive; but they deliver the best sites, a safe bus driver and an experienced guide, the owner, Ellen. For at least twenty years Ellen has included itineraries that feature interesting architecture, classical music and/or dance, historic sites and repertory theater. Some tours are a mix and match of all of the above. Others, like the one that I just completed, feature one thing over the others.
This trip featured 5 – 10 plays in six days! Thrown in were two museums and a couple of optional historic sites. Every since I heard of the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, I have wanted to go there. The addition of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a town I have always wanted to visit, made paying $3000.00 to accompany a bus load of widows on a nine-hour bus ride seemed like a piece of cake.
Between the two theater festivals I saw: Present Laughter (Noel Coward), The Millionairess (G.B. Shaw), Hedda Gabler (Henrik Ipsen), Henry V and Much Ado about Nothing (William Shakespeare), and One or Two Words (Christopher Plummer). In addition, the group visited the Johnson Museum on the Cornel Campus. The museum was designed by I.M. Pei in the early 60’s. The group also visited the Corning Glass Museum. On my own, I visited Fort George and the back stages of two theaters.
My favorite play was Henry V. The actors costumes, sets, fight scenes and music demonstrated the careful planning and coordination of all sectors of a theater company to produce a unforgetable experience.
My companions were knowledgeable, and verbal, expressing their likes and dislikes with candor. No one minded her opinion being challenged. That was part of the total experience. All were retired college graduates with plenty of discretionary income not to have to prove anything to anybody. As for me, the trip was – money well spent; I am content.