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A man is rushing around his apartment swearing to himself as he throws things into a suitcase. Taking one last look around, he grabs his jacket and races out to the waiting taxi.
MAN: Union Station, as fast as you can!
The taxi peels away with a squeal of tires, cutting off a woman in an SUV, she hits the brakes drops her phone and curses at the taxi, her Chanel jacket and Dior glasses a stark contrast to her language. Pulling up in front of the station the man throws some bills at the driver grabs his bags and runs into the station.
MAN: Where’s platform nine?
PORTER: (Pointing) Straight up those stairs! The man runs up, taking two stairs at a time, arrives on the platform panting… there’s no train!
MAN: Damn! But as he turns and looks down the platform he sees it, two cars long, placidly waiting for their departure ten minute hence. He takes the three steps up to the train and finds a seat next to a young woman, her Ipod blasting, her laptop open, cell phone ringing.
WOMAN: Whaddaya want? (Pause) No I told you… (Pause) I don’t want to talk about it… (Pause) I’ll talk to you when I get back… goodbye! She closes the phone and lets out a sigh as a tear rolls down her face.
MAN: Are you okay?
WOMAN: (Snaps) I’m fine!
MAN: Okay sorry…
WOMAN: (Taking a deep breath and wiping away the tear) I’m sorry, it’s just… you don’t want to hear about it (She wipes away another tear) I’ll be fine. The train jerks and pulls away from the station picking up speed as it slowly leaves the city behind. The conductor pushes a cart filled with drinks and snacks. The man turns to the woman next to him…
MAN: Would you like a drink?
WOMAN: Thanks I’ll have a coffee, double cream regular sugar.
MAN: Two coffees double cream regular sugar.The woman reaches into her purse but the man tells her it’s his treat. She thanks him and sips her coffee.
WOMAN: I’m sorry about my behaviour earlier, relationship trouble!
MAN: Ahh, been there. I’m sure you’ll work it out.
WOMAN: No. Not this time. I’m leaving him for good. I’m just taking a couple of days away, I’m moving out as soon as I get back.
MAN: Oh that’s too bad, he must be a fool to let you go! The woman smiles and as the train continues its journey, stopping at small stations along the way. The couple continue their conversation, talking and laughing until the P.A. announces Stratford.
MAN: Well this is my stop…
WOMAN: Me too. I’m visiting some old friends. I used to live here before I moved to the city. The door at the rear of the train opens and a blast of warm clean air rushes in. Picking up their bags the couple step down onto the platform.
MAN: I’d forgotten what fresh air smells like.
WOMAN: I know you don’t get too much of it in the city… Well it’s been nice meeting with you…They both hesitate, neither sure what to say.
BOTH: Would you…They laugh
MAN: Could I buy you lunch?
WOMAN: That would be nice. I could show you around town, introduce you to some of my friends.
MAN: I’d like that.
WOMAN: But I have to warn you they’re real characters.
MAN: Sounds great.
WOMAN: We can start the tour right here in the station. Designer Mary Philpott set up the Wandering Fire Pottery and tile works in the left luggage department of the station in 1996. Working in the methods of traditional tile makers and craftsmen she creates hand carved porcelain art tiles and vessels. Leaving the pottery they take a $7.00 cab to downtown (cabs charge a flat $7.00 from anywhere to anywhere in town!) and stop for lunch at an Italian ristorante and pizzeria on Ontario Street. Pazzo is housed in what is reputed to be the oldest cellar in town. Lingering over a lunch of antipasti followed by fettuccini Milano with roast chicken, garlic, cream and spinach for the WOMAN, and fettuccini with exotic mushrooms, white wine, fresh garlic and cream for the MAN they talk about their lives and loves and plans for the next few days.
WOMAN: Where are you staying?
MAN: I really don’t know. I thought I’d just find a hotel. Can you recommend somewhere?
WOMAN: I’m staying at a Patch of Heaven, it’s very nice.
MAN: I’m sure it is but I just wanted a room!
Laughing the woman takes his hand, turning onto Waterloo Street they cross the river and come to A Patch of Heaven… a B&B in a beautiful old mansion. The owners, Bill and Eleanor greet the couple at the front door and assure the man they have an extra room available. Following them up to the second floor the man is shown to a beautiful suite, with its own entrance to the deck outside. The woman’s suite is on the third floor with its own roof top deck.
After showers and a change of clothes they meet again and walk back across the river. The river is home to a variety of wildlife including Chinese Geese, Blue Herons, Mallards, Ruddy Shelducks, Coll Ducks, Bar Headed Geese, Gulls, Canada Geese, and two types of swans, White swans, known as Mute Swans, and black swans cunningly named in Australia, where they originated, Black Swans!
WOMAN: I’m taking you to see some friends of mine.
MAN: Some real characters?
WOMAN: Oh yes! Here we are.
The door is opened by a middle aged woman in a dress that looks like it last saw use in the deepsouth in the thirties.
WOMAN: This is Amanda.
MAN: Nice to meet you.
AMANDA: Why didn’t you phone me at once, as soon as you asked him, the minute he accepted? Then don’t you see I could have been getting ready!
AMANDA: We can’t have a gentleman caller in a pig sty! All my wedding silver has to be polished, the monogrammed table linen ought to be laundered! The windows have to be washed and fresh curtains put up.
WOMAN: Amanda it’s okay he’s just a man I met on the train.
AMANDA: I remember one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain I received seventeen gentlemen callers!
WOMAN: Maybe we should come back another time.
AMANDA: You certainly won’t do anything of the kind. Nothing offends people worse than broken engagements. It simply means I’ll have to work like a Turk! We won’t be brilliant but we will pass inspection. Come on inside. Sit down.
The couple are seated and the man is introduced to Amanda’s son Tom and his sister, the painfully shy Laura. Two very interesting hours later they leave. They agree to get an early night and get up early to watch the sun rise over the river. Returning to a Patch of Heaven the man sees the woman to her room, hesitating outside her door she gives him a quick kiss before slipping inside. At 6.00 the next morning she taps lightly on his door and they walk down to see the sun breaking through the early morning clouds and reflecting on the river, as a pair of swans with their newborn cygnets silently glide across the still water.
Returning to the B&B they eat a healthy breakfast of fruit, muffins, toast, elderberry jam, and coffee, before making their way to Gallery Stratford, on Romeo Street. The gallery is hosting two exhibitions; Bright Particular Stars
– The Theatre Portraits of Grant Macdonald, and The Archives Project
– The photographs of Fred Ubelaker. Grant Macdonald’s portraits of Canadian and British actors have to be seen to be appreciated. The actors, dressed in the costume of their most famous roles, are uncannily realistic and the portraits skilfully capture the personalities behind the roles.
Fred Ulebaker, a local butcher, documented the life of his family and friends on glass plate negatives. His photos provide a glimpse of life at the turn of the twentieth century. (The MAN asks if photography was a way for him to “meat” more people?)
Ten minutes walk away is the costume warehouse. With more than 50,000 costumes, custom made by the festival’s wardrobe staff, and hundreds of props including everything from plates of food to severed heads, the 45 minute tour should not be missed. At the end of the tour visitors get to try on some of the costumes, a great treat for children who get the chance to see how they’d look as a king or princess, and almost as much fun for adults who, just for a moment, can imagine they are on stage!
Leaving the warehouse the WOMAN turns to the MAN
WOMAN: Would you like to meet some more of my friends?
MAN: Are they as interesting as the others?
WOMAN: Absolutely!
A woman comes along dressed in the uniform of a second world war U.S. navy nurse.
WOMAN: Hi Nellie.
NELLIE: Hi how are you?
WOMAN: I haven’t seen you for a while.
NELLIE: I’ve been in the South Pacific.
WOMAN: (Turning to the MAN) I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. This is Nellie.
MAN: Pleased to meet you.
NELLIE: Likewise.
WOMAN: How have you been?
NELLIE: Oh I’m in love with a wonderful guy.
WOMAN: That’s nice when did you meet him?
NELLIE: It was a beautiful night… It was some enchanted evening.
WOMAN: Really, how long have you known him?
NELLIE: Just since my last birthday.
WOMAN: That’s wonderful. How old are you now?
NELLIE: Younger than springtime am I.
WOMAN: (To MAN) Ever since she saw Star Wars she thinks she’s Yoda!
(To NELLIE) Are you happy?
NELLIE: Gayer than laughter am I.
WOMAN: (To MAN) See what I mean?
MAN: Well if you’ll excuse an expression I use there ain’t nothing like this dame!
WOMAN: Don’t you start! We’d better get going.
Walking back along the river they come to Art in The Park an outdoor artist’s exhibition of sculpture, jewellery, photography, painting, wood carving, and pottery. The MAN buys the WOMAN an intricately carved butterfly engraved with the words “The love you liberate is the only love you keep”. And she smiles, as he leans in, and gently kisses her. They sit by the river watching swans feeding, lovers laughing, dragon boats racing, old couples strolling together, and a jazz band on a barge play a blues as they slowly drift by.
From the river they walk through the downtown area, filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and galleries, all housed in beautifully preserved old buildings. Feeling hungry the WOMAN tells the MAN she’ll take him to church, and leads him along a side street to a lovely old church. The church held its first service in 1874… 101 years later, retaining its original façade and interior décor, it served its first customers as the, newly renovated, Church Restaurant.
With light filtering through stained glass windows, reflecting onto the organ pipes and altar, and the sounds of a Bach quartet shimmering up to the vaulted ceiling, they are shown to their table… Many hours later they return to A Patch of Heaven. In the semi darkness, he takes her in his arms, her lips part slowly as he lowers his mouth to hers, hesitating only briefly they enter her room.
The next day they picnic in the Shakespearean Gardens, resplendent with flowers, herbs, arbours, shady walks, elaborate fountains, and every plant ever mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. And then they have one more set of characters to meet.
WOMAN: I’d like you to meet Volumnia and her son Coriolanus.
VOLUMNIA: I know not where to turn: O welcome home! And welcome, general; and y’are welcome all.
MAN: Nice to meet you but I’m not a general.
CORIOLANUS: (Taking their hands) Your hand, and yours! Ere in our own house I do shade my head.
WOMAN: Should we come back later?
VOLUMNIA: Indeed you shall not.
WOMAN: I think it might be best. I can se this isn’t a good time.
VOLUMNIA: At thy choice then: To beg of thee it is my more dishonour.
MAN: It’s been a pleasure.
CORIOLANUS: Pray be content. Mother, I am going to the market-place: Chide me no more. They take their leave and…
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end, Each changing place with that which goes before.
The MAN and WOMAN leave Stratford and its cast of characters, and together start a journey to…

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

Quotes from:
The Glass Menagerie
South Pacific


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