Inside the summer of blood
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
In between watching an aged King Lear go stark raving mad and witnessing the bloodbath brought on by a Roman general known as Titus Andronicus, audiences at Shakespeare Northwest’s annual Ironman marathon can take a breather from the carnage by viewing The Grimm Shakespearean Tales of Uncle Dickey—an original, family-friendly play written by cast member Carolyn Hatch.
Those who survive the “Summer of Blood: Madness and a Thousand Terrible Things” offerings taking place outdoors throughout the day and into the night Sat., July 28 at the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater should be aware that pairing two of the Bard’s bloodiest plays together for the creative collective’s 16th season wasn’t an accident.
According to artistic director Eal Lundquist, directors Bjorn A. Whitney (Titus Andronicus) and Trey Hatch (King Lear) initially approached him about the plays and ominous tagline.
“Usually we do a comedy and a tragedy/history in repertory, but the pairing of these two plays felt right and we decided to take the risk,” Lundquist says. “They lend themselves to being performed together. There are striking father/daughter dynamics in both, and they also act as cautionary tales relating to the abuse of power in our current climate.”
While Lear and Titus will take turns bringing murder and mayhem to the stage of the old rock quarry at various dates throughout Aug. 18, Ironman is the only chance people will have to see the tragedies performed on the same day—not to mention being able to procure an “I Survived the Summer of Blood IRONMAN 2018” T-shirt with their ticket purchase.
“There are many people who come just to take part in Ironman,” Lundquist says. “We have a patron who drives up from Olympia every year. He can see the whole season in one go and not have to make the trip multiple times.”
This will be the eighth Shakespeare Northwest season at the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater, and Lundquist says the all-volunteer casts and crews have learned a few things about adapting to the unique space. Besides dealing with inclement weather, actors and stage technicians know to pause when large trucks rumble by or planes fly overhead, rather than try to be heard over the noise.
As for those in the audience at Ironman and beyond, Lundquist suggests bringing a lawn chair, a light jacket, a blanket, snacks, sunscreen and perhaps some bug spray. Folding chairs are also available to rent, and a food vendor is typically on site for the theatrics. Beer and wine will also be sold during Ironman.
Thus equipped, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the rigors of the Shakespearean marathon. The fearsome fun kicks off at 1pm with King Lear, followed by The Grimm Shakespearean Tales of Uncle Dickey. At 7pm, Titus Andronicus brings revenge, filicide, sacrifices, treason and all-around evil to the stage—it is the “summer of blood,” after all.
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