The first part of the following was originally printed in the Pericles program; Part 2 is a blog-only exclusive.
In the wee hours of Monday, March 19, a motley crew of theater types hit the road for Salinas—playwright Octavio Solis, Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, Word for Word Artistic Directors Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, and an assortment of Word for Word company members and Cal Shakes staffers. We packed ourselves into a trio of vehicles and headed a hundred miles south to
The first stop on Day One of our trip (after a fast-food breakfast—this was a road trip, after all) was The Farm, an agricultural education center just outside of
Before we knew it, our caravan was off to the Firehouse
Road Trip! Part 2:
After enjoying our complimentary continental breakfast (hey, we’re a nonprofit theater) we hustled back to the
We tooled around the Center proper for a while, and I’m happy to report that it’s a truly engaging museum, packed to the rafters with interactive exhibits, video of actors from Western Stage readings from Steinbeck, original possessions of Steinbeck’s (including books and a desk), clips from films made of the author’s work, and much more. Solis’ favorite part, by far, was the modified camper truck that Steinbeck piloted around in Travels with Charley; the trailer is named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, which delighted the playwright as he’s currently adapting Don Quixote for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. (Me, I liked the giant Steinbeck crossword puzzle.)
But wait. What’s this? A car going through the gates just as we pull up to Markham Ranch? And just what is Octaivio Solis doing?! He’s driving his own car through those closing gates, spiked iron security (yes, really) be damned!?!
And then we were in. We were oohing and ahhing over hill and dale, peeking at alpaca and horses, getting barked at by protective housedogs as we mooned over rock formations. The landscape is breathtaking up there—truly what inspiration’s made of. And the gated community only drove home what John Steinbeck predicted in The Pastures of Heaven’s final chapter, that the ways of the Munroes and Maltbys are long gone, and the modern world has come to Corral de Tierra. But one could easily see how folks could move to this place and work the hard land while still believing in their personal dreams. It’s that stunning, that otherworldly.
And so, with one last snap of the digital camera and a wave to the livestock, we headed back to the Bay Area. The Steinbeck Project rolls on, and we at Cal Shakes are glad of it.