The crowd starts gathering about 6 pm, wandering into Lovejoy Fountain Park from all directions. Arriving two or three at a time, most are carrying blankets, coolers, picnic baskets, and folding chairs. By 7 pm, we are all pretty much settled in–laughing, chatting, and snacking much as we would have back in the early 1600’s when “The Bard of Avon” was still alive. A hush falls over the audience. The play begins . . .
Within moments, we are swept away to the deck of a sailing ship foundering in heavy seas. Thunder cra-a-acks as passengers panic and mariners bail like mad to keep the ship afloat. All to no avail! The ship sinks, casting up only a handful of survivors onto the shores of a desert island.
Welcome to the Portland Actors Ensemble’s summer production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.
The Tempest, of course, is a classic story of revenge that ends in redemption. And–as with all of Shakespeare’s tales of murder, madness, and political intrigue–it’s liberally seasoned with magic, monsters, and even an airy sprite named Ariel.
Though the play centers around the vengeful schemes of Prospero, magician and exiled Duke of Milan, Shakespeare offers up a banquet of side stories to keep us all entertained: An evil attempt to assassinate King Alonso of Naples by his perfidious brother, Sebastian. A love story between young Prince Ferdinand and Prospero’s beautiful daughter, Miranda. And the tragic tale of the monster, Caliban, who gets caught up in the drunken antics of Trinculo, court jester, and a butler by the name of Stephano.
This is one summer event you do not want to miss! For some great images of the opening night performance, please check out this outstanding collection of photos taken by Garry Louie.
The Tempest at Lovejoy Fountain can be seen at 7 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from now through July 16th. Come early so you can snag a good seat close to the action. And I heartily recommend that you do bring along your own folding chairs and snacks. And here’s the best part: This play is free to the public! (though donations are strongly encouraged)
Lovejoy Fountain Park is located at SW 3rd Avenue and Harrison Street in downtown Portland. (right in the center of the block) Ample street parking nearby. For a map of the area, please check the Portland Parks and Recreation website.
**Special Note: 2011 marks the 42nd year that Portland Actors Ensemble has presented Shakespeare-in-the Parks. Their goal, as always, is “to bring financially accessible classical theatre to Portland communities in a non-traditional environment.”