On Stage

Staged for Summer

Don’t go indoors, ever

Thursday, July 3, 2014

If you’re anything like me, once summer hits in full force in the Pacific Northwest—typically on July 5—you want to spend as much of it as humanly possible outdoors, including when you’re eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, talking to friends, watching music, and, yes, even enjoying the creative arts. Lucky for us, opportunities to stay outside abound.

In fact, by the time you read these words, students from Western Washington University’s Department of Theatre and Dance’s Advanced Acting Topics will likely have perfected the mannerisms and character traits for the stock characters they’ll be portraying at “Commedia in the Park” performances July 3-5 at Bellingham’s Maritime Heritage Park. Expect to see everyone from tricky servants to young lovers and foolish old men make appearances in the highly physicalized masked comic performance, which first originated in the Italian Renaissance and continues to draw audiences to this day. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

Once the “Commedia” performances wrap up, look to Sunday, July 6 for another free offering—this time in the universe of dance and music. Put on by Linda “Fiddlin’” Fox, the aptly named “Fiddlin’ Fox Dance Concerts” see the Fairhaven Village Green come alive every Sunday afternoon in July with live music, dancing and dance instruction. The all-ages events are sponsored and organized by Fox—who, every summer, also pays to promote them in a variety of publications and other news outlets. The series starts this Sunday with the swing jazz sounds of the Salt Water Octet, and continues July 13 (Swamp Soul), July 20 (Balkanarama), and July 27 (Alma Villeges). Fox has been fiddling and bringing live music to dancers in Bellingham and beyond since 1981, so we’re confident the world-music-based lineup for this month will get citizens moving to the music.

Starting July 10 and continuing on various dates through Aug. 16, actors, directors, costumers and volunteers from Shakespeare Northwest will be returning to the Rexville Grange’s Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater to ply their Shakespearean trade. Set away from the grange in an old rock quarry, the stage for this year’s theatrical offerings—more on those in a minute—provides a rare acoustic and sensory experience. In fact, if you leave your cell phone in your car and enter into the performance without the tethers of modern life, you might just be in for some time traveling.

Both comedy and tragedy are on the Skagit River Shakespeare Festival’s bill this season, with the murderous Macbeth kicking things off on opening night. According to a recent press release, audiences will be able to “discover just how far one man will journey to embrace a foretold destiny in this timeless tale of unbridled ambition.”

On the lighter side, an updated version of the comedic Much Ado About Nothing will bring the Bard’s timeless themes of mistaken identity and matchmaking gone awry to the mix. Set on the Amalfi coast of Italy in the late 1920s, the characters “dizzyingly pivot through scandal, subterfuge and deception, wrestling with their affections.”

If you’ve got stamina—and still don’t want to go inside—you may want to wait until Sat., July 26 to make your way to the Rexville Grange. On that day, the annual “Iron Man” performances will include showings of both of the aforementioned classics, plus a “To Be or not TV2” performance. Can you do it? Yes, I think you can.

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