Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday in the Park

I spent this evening in Forest Park, a 1,293 acre jewel in the heart of St. Louis. Larger than Central Park in New York, it is the area of St. Louis that was the site of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

For a few weeks each May/June it is the site of, among other things, the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis which this year is presenting The Merry Wives of Windsor. More on that in a later post perhaps.

For those who live in urban areas there is nothing better than spending time in a park. It is a time honored tradition. As I looked at the Sunday crowd gathered in the park I was reminded of Georges Seurat's famous painting that now hangs in the Chicago Art Institute: Sunday on the Island of La Grand Jatte. Here is is:


This little reproduction doesn't do it justice. It is a HUGE painting and it is composed of millions of tiny little dots of color. In Ferris Bueller's Day Off there is a scene at the Art Institute that involves this painting and shows the detail:

It is possible to stand in front of the painting and imagine all the people in it as they were in real life when Seurat took his sketch pad to the Island on a summer afternoon and watched the people of Paris taking their leisure. Stephen Sondheim imagined it so well that he created an entire musical theater piece, Sunday in the Park with George, out of it. And that seems appropriate too because whether it is Shakespeare in the Park in New York or the Shakespeare Festival here in Forest Park, the tradition of gathering in parks, under the trees, for music and theater is also a time honored tradition.