On The Road: Staunton, Virginia Part 2 {Central Virginia Photographer}

I had never really spent any time Staunton. We spent the first day walking around the city, enjoying a lovely winter day before we went to the Blackfriar’s Playhouse to see “Henry VIII.” I didn’t know they did behind-the-scenes tours of the only recreated of Shakespeare’s Blackfriar’s Playhouse in the entire world, so we stayed on Saturday morning until we could enjoy that and made it back over the mountains to Greene County before the weather turned a bit dangerous (higher elevations got snow, we didn’t).

Before the playhouse opened for the tour, we had breakfast in a little cafe and walked around the “wharf” district. The wharf district was listed National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The area is full of old warehouses around the train depot. The train came to Staunton in 1854, turning a rural area into a center of commerce. The main passenger terminal was built in 1857 and “modernized” in 1902, according to a sign. Amtrak still meanders through, as well as freight trains. During the Civil War, Staunton was a “vital link” between the valley and Richmond, according to a sign. The last two photos below show what I just think is a neat temple, not near the tracks, but still a neat building!

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If you have the chance to do the tour I highly recommend it. For $5 you learn so much about what theater meant in Shakespeare’s time, among many other fascinating facts! The Blackfriar’s in Staunton keep the lights on while you watch the play, as you would have encountered in his day, and so many other little facts like that. The cast will play to the audience and you can sit right on the stage, almost becoming part of the performance (you can see what I mean in the photos below)! Or sitting in “Juliet’s Balcony” above it. Those sitting on the stage in the photos below were graduate students at Mary Baldwin College rehearsing for a graded thesis the following week! We could not use flash with them on the stage. The hand-drawing below is by Pablo Picasso of what he believes Shakespeare would have looked like. There are tapestries all around the playhouse. We had front row center seats for “Henry VIII!” I’m hoping to get the same seats for “Romeo and Juliet.”

I’ve already warned my daughter, whose name is Juliet to her dismay some days, that we’re going to see “Romeo and Juliet” this summer. I will allow her to bring her boyfriend so she’ll go–begrudgingly. She isn’t actually named after the play, however. She’s named after the Dire Straits song by the same title (which she HATES, by the way). It was one of her father’s and my songs in college and we just knew if we had a daughter we would name her Juliet. And you know what? There isn’t another one in her entire school system, unlike a lot of more popular names! You’re welcome, kid!

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