Sigh no more! Summer is coming. I love being outdoors, and I love theater, so one of the many things I’m looking forward to this summer is attending some outdoor Shakespeare performances. Recently, I saw Seattle Shakespeare‘s (indoor) performance of Shakespeare in Love at the Cornish playhouse. Sadly, “Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter” shall remain one of Shakespeare’s um…lost…plays, but outdoor performances of his published plays abound in our area, including that of Ethel’s lesser cousin, “Romeo and Juliet”. And many of them are, blessedly, free. Seeing Shakespeare performed outdoors seems, somehow, right. Performances for most troupes are during July and August to catch the good weather though, around here, we never quite know what to expect. Remember to pack your own seating and some extra layers for evening performances. I especially love the mid afternoon performances on a sunny day — a perfect time to pack your festival blanket and a picnic.
Put money in thy purse (but if you enjoy the show, consider a donation to the theater company).
Two day festival in the park with performances from various theater groups. At the time of this post, the schedule isn’t posted yet, but perusing some of the different companies’ websites, I see that the productions include:[footnote]But please check the link for possible changes or additions to their schedule when officially posted.[/footnote]
July 14, 2018:
- 12:00 PM: Twelfth Night (Last Leaf, one hour production)
- 2:00 PM: King Lear (Seattle Shakespeare/Wooden O)
- 4:00 PM: King Lear (Last Leaf, one hour production)[footnote]I question if this will actually be the 4:00 play as it seems to be running directly after another production of King Lear.[/footnote]
- 7:00 PM: The Three Musketeers[footnote]OK, not Shakespeare…but included in the theater festival.[/footnote] (Greenstage)
July 15, 2018:
- 2:00 PM: Henry IV Part 1 (Greenstage)
- 4:00 PM: The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Greenstage)
- 5:00 PM: Winter’s Tale (Greenstage)
- 7:00 PM: Merry Wives of Windsor (Seattle Shakespeare/Wooden O)
In 2018, their primary outdoor productions will be The Three Musketeers and Henry IV Part 1, with “Backyard Bard” (one hour) productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Winter’s Tale. Performances are primarily west of Lake Washington, ranging from Burien to Lynnwood, with some eastside productions in Fall City and Lake Wilderness.[footnote]I think I recall some past productions at Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island but, alas, it seems we in Kitsap have been forgotten[/footnote]
Wooden O is the summer outdoor Shakespeare branch of Seattle Shakespeare Company. In 2018, they will be producing The Merry Wives of Windsor and King Lear. Productions are in parks ranging from Seattle north to Lynnwood and Edmonds, on the Eastside and south to Tacoma.
This one is in Langley on Whidbey Island; performances are pay what you will. In 2018, their plays are Othello, Twelfth Night, and Sense and Sensibility (for those who’d like a little Austen mixed in with their Bard). Plays are at 6:00 PM with 1:00 matinees on Sundays in August.
They put on one hour versions of two plays every year.[note]Perfect for kids or those of us adults with attention spans to short to sit through full length productions[/note] In 2018, their productions are Twelfth Night and King Lear. Productions are in Woodinville, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Arlington, and Bellevue.
Not Free, But Affordable and Worth It:
The Key City Public Theatre in Port Townsend keeps it to one play. This year the production is Hamlet, with dates running from August 3-26 [footnote]I almost wrote Macbeth…maybe my subconscious inserted the Scottish play here as I’ll be in Scotland at the time this one is going on…but may be able to see it late August when I return.[/footnote] The cost is “as you like it” (by suggested donation) at the gate, but it looks like you can purchase advance tickets online or at the box office for $29.00.
Methinks I am vexed that we do not have more outdoor Shakespeare options here in Kitsap County.[footnote]But if you just want outdoor theater in Kitsap, I highly recommend the Kitsap Forest Theater. They put on two musicals every summer.[/footnote] One this year is the production of Romeo and Juliet at the beautiful Bloedel Reserve, running from July 13-29. The cost is $29 ($25 for students, seniors, and military).
Another Kitsap option is Poulsbo’s Jewel Box Theater. They put on a few productions of one of their plays in Raab Park during the summer. For 2018, they’ll be doing “The Lion in Winter” on July 22, 29, and August 5 at 2:00 PM. Not Shakespeare…but something that would appeal to those who enjoy historical drama.
Oooh…Summer of 2018 has been announced as the Summer of Blood with “Madness and a thousand terrible things.” The productions are “King Lear”[footnote]Lots of Lear this year (LOL)[/footnote], “Titus Andronicus”, and …something called “The Grimm Shakespearean Tales of Uncle Dicky.” Tickets to on sale on Brown Paper Tickets tickets on June 1 and range from $10.00 for students to $35.00 for families. The season runs July 13 – August 18, but specific dates are not yet listed at the time of this writing.
Map of Outdoor Shakespeare Festivals
This is only a map of single event places. Companies like Wooden O and Greenstage hold performances at many parks around the area — check out their sites for details.
…I’m sorry, I had a map in here before but since my site updates I haven’t been able to display maps. I’m working on it.