¶ Dear readers:
¶ Early last fall, when I had just moved into the Portland area, one of the first things on my list was to figure out where the Shakespeare was. In September, I posted a September blogroll of PDX Shakes Fests beyond that of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a bit southward in beautiful Ashland. That list included the Portland Actors Ensemble, my now home troupe the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival, and the Portland Shakespeare Project (housed by Artist Repertory Theatre). As I get a better lay of the theatre landscape here in the cool northern woods, I give you the start of a group list of additional companies in the area with commitments to pre-modern and Shakespearean drama.
¶ Bag and Baggage
¶ This company has been doing some smart and compassionate work in Hillsboro, just outside of Portland, revitalizing that community in the process. This fall they move into their own performance space in downtown Hillsboro, and are kicking off the season with a world premiere re-imaging of Romeo and Juliet / Layla & Majun in part sponsoring Defensa de la Dignidad. Artistic director Scott Palmer has a penchant for seventeenth century English drama and shows with interesting bookish pedigrees, such as their recent Parfumerie and award-winning production of Bronte. I’m excited to see what the fall holds.
¶ The Fern Shakespeare Company
¶ This company is brand new to the Seattle area, using an original practices approach to focus on Shakespeare texts to inform their performances. Having transplanted from Atlanta, I’ve only just discovered this group, but heard good this about their recent Macbeth this past May. They have a Tempest coming up this September that I will be interested to see at the Slate theatre. The troupe name was “inspired by the names of the theatres in England that Shakespeare himself once called home: The Rose and The Globe,” so I’ve already got my eyes on this group.
¶ Bard on the Beach
¶ Several years ago at a conference in Vancouver, I attended a great workshop with the artistic director of Bard on the Beach, the Shakespeare in the Parks festival for Canada’s west coast. They are running five different plays this summer, supplemented by education initiatives such as youth summer workshops and Talkback Tuesdays, as well as special evenings including family nights and Wine Wednesday. Catch them every night of the week except Mondays on the waterfront in Vancouver’s Vanier Park.
¶ See you in the western woods this summer!