Shakespeare at the meadow in Webster's Woods
Friday, Saturday and Sundays, July 22-Aug. 7 - 5:30 pm
@ Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s Webster’s Woods meadow
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
July 15, 2016
PORT ANGELES — Standing at meadow's edge, actress Grace Sanwald invites a visitor to imagine the-about-to-be-built set of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” We're on an uncharted island somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, and over there the ocean waves crash. Here, a cloud hovers; there lies a cave, and yonder huddles a hut made of driftwood and leaves.
“Using this space is really fun,” said Sanwald, 17 and one of the performers turning this meadow in Webster’s Woods, the park surrounding the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, into the setting for a Shakespearean adventure. She, with a cast and crew that include set designer Jeff Tocher, musical directors Rosie Sharpe and Zorina Wolf, three costume designers and director Anna Andersen, will bring on “The Tempest” starting next Friday, July 22.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” declares Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan and an orchestrator of “The Tempest’s” storm and shipwreck. He’s speaking Shakespearean as written oh, five centuries ago. He and Andersen, a director who has worked all over the West, are about to chart a course to full understanding of the drama as it worked in the playwright’s time and our time.
For the three full weekends of shows, Andersen is collaborating with a cast of 20: A dozen named characters plus three elemental spirits and five shadows. Nearly a year ago she saw Benjamin Heintz in Sequim High School’s acclaimed production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and knew he could be Prospero. Then she set about assembling his ferocious family, friends and enemies: Hope Winsor as his daughter Miranda, Kai Lavatai as his supernaturally powered servant Ariel, and performers including Zach Mills, Jennifer Horton, Emma Easton, Lynne Murphy, Jeffrey Mordecai-Smith, Jack Simpson, Steve Perry, Keith Curtis and Josh Sutcliffe filling out the grand illusion.
“‘The Tempest’ is one of Shakespeare's last and most impressive works,” Andersen said.
“I’m hoping, first of all, to give [the audience] fabulous entertainment … in one of the most enchanting spaces on the Peninsula.”
But there’s more under the surface. “The Tempest” explores not only revenge and forgiveness, but also colonialism and indigenous cultures. Andersen’s vision of the play invites us to think about the people who have been conquered and enslaved throughout history — and the effect this has had on those who do the conquering.
Heintz, now a 19-year-old college student, calls Andersen’s vision brilliant.
“I was immediately drawn to it,” the actor said. He was also fascinated by his character Prospero, “a misunderstood genius.”
Heintz and Sanwald both see this staging of “The Tempest” as an accessible one.
“Anna has done everything in her power,” Sanwald said, “to translate everything into” — she spread her hands wide — “a show.”
Like so many of Shakespeare’s efforts, “The Tempest” is studded with now-famous phrases: “strange bedfellows” is one and “brave new world” is another, uttered by the teenage Miranda.
“You'll be surprised how much you understand, with the caliber of actors in this show,” the director said.
“And I can promise: You'll have a great time.”
“The Tempest” begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sundays, July 22-Aug. 7 at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s Webster’s Woods meadow, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Seating opens at 4:30 p.m. and admission is free while donations are welcome. Low lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are encouraged. No glass bottles nor alcohol are permitted. For information see PAFAC.org or phone 360-457-3532.
"The Tempest" crew includes director Anna Andersen, set designer Jeff Tocher, assisted by BZ Lind and David and Carol Willis, costumers Richard Stephens, Jayna Orchard and Diane Williams, set builder Pat Nickerson, propmaster Dorine Hunter and musical directors Rosie Sharpe and Zorina Wolf.
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