“Feast here awhile”: Shakespeare for a Portland Autumn

Dear readers:

According to American Theatre magazine, “Shakespeare remains the most-produced playwright in the country, with 108 productions (including various adaptations). And this year his most-produced play will be Twelfth Night with 9 productions.” In fact, Shakespeare in Love was the most produced play of the year, with 15 full-scale professional productions nation-wide. This does not take into account all of the Shakespeare-ish works making the rounds to be excited for, including the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) and Emma Whipday’s Shakespeare’s Sister. If you are in the Portland area this fall, there are a couple of exciting productions to keep your eyes peeled for.

Pericles Wet

This December, Portland Shakespeare Project will be producing a full-scale run of my colleague, Ellen Margolis’ adaptation of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Based on the act printed in a recent issue of Proscenium and a reading I saw last year, this is likely to prove special. This re-magining refocuses on the assault of Princess Hesperides and the framing device of Gower.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I’m interested in getting a taste of both Speculative Drama’s aesthetic as a company as well as its immersive, underground venue, called The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven (alluding to Ophelia). Site-specific is a tricky technique: easily made pat, it can also shatter any desire you may have to keep a wall between you and art. “Midsummer” is both perfect and a trap for such productions, as the temptation is always high to focus on the fairies and forget the darker implications of the play’s politics. An arranged marriage or a convent? A man left drugged by love for the rest of his days? Corrugated steel might be just the thing.

The Travels of Three English Brothers

The annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society is coming to Portland this fall. As part of the weekend event, there will be a staged reading of John Day, William Rowley, and George Wilkins’s 1607 The Travels of Three English Brothers. It is a rare chance to see one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries staged and shouldn’t be missed.

Forsooth, My Lovely

Hillsboro Artists’ Regional Theatre (HART) will be staging the hardboiled adaptation by David Belke. Gumshoe detective Birnam Wood faces his most difficult case ever as he travels to Italy to unravel a scandal involving a rich merchant’s young daughter. For the Shakespeare trivia nerd, this is your show.

Fall Festival of Shakespeare

For two days, see the fruits of ten weeks worth of workshops with students from all over the Pacific Northwest. Students put on 70min interpretations of Shakespeare’s works, and the majority of students are returners and have multiple years of experience.

Looking ahead to 2018

Macbeth

As a production company noted for being creative with visual patterns and tableau, Shakespeare’ Scottish play will no doubt prove fertile ground. Have run away with a number of Drammys in recent years, this forthcoming project is something to watch for.

Faust

Ok, so it isn’t quite Shakespeare. Marlowe’s Shakespeare’s contemporary wrote an interesting adaptation of Goethe’s story. So, by merit of two degrees of separation, I usually have my eye out for a Faust. That, and it is way out into spring, not going up until June. This is being coproduced by Portland Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, however, and there will be only be four performances, so get your tickets early.

 

A view of the Shakespeare’s Globe marquee in London, UK. August 2017.

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