Many Oregonians understandably flock to the brilliant, color-blind, multicultural productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (which just re-opened the Angus Bowmer theatre). But this summer in Portland, there are more local Shakespeare offerings than summers past.
A new company called Portland Shakespeare Project is completing a well-received, sparkling production of “As You Like It” directed by Michael Mendelson with a cast that includes Darius Pierce and original music by Mary Kadderly.
The Oregonian review by Rich Wattenburg wrote ” the large very talented 21-person cast makes sure that laughs abound, even as this production illuminates the complexity and density of Shakespeare’s comic vision.” The production ends August 7th at Artists Repertory Theatre. More info at PortlandShakes.org.
The Hillsboro company Bag & Baggage and their production of “The Tempest”, a reversioned Shakespeare based on a version written in 1667 by playwrights John Dryden and William Davenant. The Oregonian’s Marty Hughley wrote the production “takes inspiration from the libertine spirit of Restoration comedy, but also, by the looks of things, from cartoons, stoner comedies and rock’n’roll.” This production ends Aug. 13th. Check out their site at bagnbaggage.org.
The newest company running shows in August is Post5 Theatre’s offering of a free “Romeo and Juliet” at their space at Milepost 5 on SE 82nd Ave. in Portland. (post5theatre.com).
The longest running company is Portland Actors Ensemble’s Shakespeare in the Parks program. Since 1970, PAE has performed free Shakespeare productions in parks throughout the city. The company has trained young actors and given the community a chance to see plays in a fun festive setting. Families make an outing of it and because the company performs in a variety of neighborhoods, there’s more of a chance for this to be people’s first exposure to the Bard’s plays.
This summer the company also completed a production of “The Tempest” and are in their last weeks of performing the romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” which closes at Reed College on Labor Day weekend.
The company has chosen to set the play as a cross between of Jane Austen’s novels and the film “Zorro” with appropriate swooning and swashbuckling. If you haven’t had a Shakespeare summer outing you can check out their website at portlandactors.org.
PAE will also produce “Richard III” this fall so keep checking on their venture to produce indoors as well.