CODY, Wy. — Montana Shakespeare in the Parks might be the most traveled theater troupe in the world. Every summer it covers thousands of miles in crisscrossing Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The company performs for free two productions (this year Romeo and Juliet and Moliere’s Tartuffe) on alternate nights, as it visits some 50 towns in 70 days in a geographical area of roughly 150,000 square miles, from sagebrush prairie to lush river valley to jagged mountain peaks. The troupe is based at Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture in Bozeman.
It stopped in Cody recently and did Romeo and Juliet in City Park. It was a fine evening with a sultry breeze in the tall, swaying cottonwoods, and birdsong that could have been mistaken for the larks and nightingales of Shakespeare’s beautiful tragedy. The company had a better sound system than in years past, and despite the noisy stirring of the trees, I could hear every line of dialogue from my seat on the grass 20 feet away.p> em>”Is now the two hours traffic of our stage; br> The which if you with patient ears attend, br> What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” /em> /p>
And that was good, because City Park borders Sheridan Avenue, and late July Cody is suddenly inundated with motorcyclists going to and from Yellowstone National Park and the big annual biker rally at Sturgis, South Dakota.
In past years, the roaring Harleys were effective in drowning out sublime Shakespearean dialogue. Throw in Cody’s regular evening parade of locals driving souped-up pickup trucks with throbbing stereos (in an odd cultural twist, Wyoming’s younger generation has forsaken country-western music for hip-hop). I recall past summer productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It that were almost unhearable.p> em>”Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, br> Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel — br> Will they not hear? What, ho! You men, you beasts, br> That quench the fire of your pernicious rage….”
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Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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H/T to National Review Online