The play's the thing, but thrift is the word

FROM: Parsimony, Skinflint and Slash, accountants.

TO: Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

PROBLEM: Consultants note that client, faced with a drop in attendance and revenue in these hard times, has cut $1.6 million from this year's budget. However, clients' 11 plays for 2009 were left virtually untouched.

PROPOSAL: In these hard times, the plays should take their lumps along with multi-million-dollar bonuses, lavish executive retreats and the budget for paper clips.

ITEMS: We direct your attention to your playbill.

Consider "Much Ado About Nothing." The profligacy of this play's very title should be a red flag. "Much" ado might be OK during sweet times like a dot-com mania or a real-estate bubble, but in these hard times, the ado demands to be scaled back. Not only is the quantity of ado excessive, you will note that all that ado is prompted by something that's not merely small or inconsequential but quite literally non-existent!

With a little Yankee ingenuity, Shakespeare's extravagant comedy might be reworked into a recession-appropriate play. Something along the lines of "A Modest Amount of Ado About Nothing."

More savings could be reaped by making Don Pedro a duke or a count or something instead of a prince.

Further economies could be realized by changing the play's setting from Sicily to Sri Lanka.

Then there is this play "All's Well That Ends Well." What's wrong with "Most Things Are OK if They End OK"? It may not have the same triumphant air, but in these times, wouldn't most of us settle?

We call your attention to "Henry VIII." Couldn't you do a "Henry IV" on half the budget? Or two parts of "Henry IV" for the cost of one "Henry VIII"? Better yet, what about a "Henry II"?

And why does the protagonist in "The Servant of Two Masters" require double the normal amount of supervision? In these times, it seems excessive.

The vanished abundance of "Paradise Lost" could easily be replaced with a more modest loss. "A Pretty Swell Place Lost" has a nice ring. Come to think of it, it's a lot of work to lose something altogether. What would be wrong with "Paradise Misplaced But Probably Right There Behind the Sofa"?

A whole new category of savings could be generated by combing scripts for bloat. Does that wastrel Harold Hill really need 76 trombones? This is un-Iowan. We recommend downsizing the band to 17 big trombones with 10 or 15 cornets close at hand followed by two short rows of the finest virtuosos.

And surely it's not necessary in "As You Like It" for all the world to be a stage, and all the men and women players. What's wrong with "a middling part of the world" or "downtown Ashland" being a stage, and "quite a few people" or "some guys" who are merely players?

And that Scottish play. That guy should downsize his rhetoric. Why, in these times, must to-morrow creep to the last syllable of recorded time? What if it just crept until, say, June 30? Or better yet, 3 p.m. Tuesday?

And does that metaphorical player near the end really need an entire hour to strut and fret upon the stage? Fifteen minutes was good enough for Andy Warhol, and in these times, it should suffice for this fellow.

Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail

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