On Stage

Starting Out

Western Summer Theatre


What: Commedia in the Park

Where: Maritime Heritage Park, 500 W. Holly St.


WHEN: 6pm Thurs.-Sat., July 18-20

Cost: Free

Info: http://www.cfpa.wwu.edu

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

If you haven’t passed by the tail end of Holly Street lately, be aware that Maritime Heritage Park is currently abuzz with action.

In addition to being ground zero for three out of the five plays comprising iDiOM Theater’s Summer Rep lineup, the scenic locale overlooking Bellingham Bay will also act as the backdrop for the beginning of Western Summer Theatre—Western Washington University’s annual citywide celebration of the arts that pairs top-tier theater and dance students and alums with professional directors, playwrights and designers.

Per usual, the season will be starting out with “Commedia in the Park.” Directed by WWU theater professor Rich Brown, the Commedia Dell’Arte shows feature stock characters such as tricky servants, young lovers and greedy old men. Each character wears a mask and takes on its particular physicality, but based on audience response, the story changes from one night to next. Laughter is always the goal, and improvisation is part of the magic.

Those who make plans to attend the performances at 6pm July 18-20 at Maritime Heritage Park should also be aware that opening weekend of iDiOM’s production of Aristophanes’ The Birds will follow the showings of “Commedia.” In addition to both being free, the two open-air productions will also provide audiences with history lessons of sorts. “Commedia” was born in the streets and markets of Italy in the 1550s, and The Birds is set in ancient Greece.

The next Western Summer Theatre installment takes place across town Aug. 2-4 at Fairhaven’s Firehouse Arts and Events Center via Graffiti Dance Theater. Centering on themes of water, summertime and self-discovery, dancers and choreographers will go deep, exploring sight and style versus substance. There will even be a promenade of the Olympian gods—something that really shouldn’t be missed.

Performers will head back to campus for the final two offerings in the season. A couple of weeks will pass before The Spitfire Grill lights up the mainstage with performances Aug. 21-25 at the school’s Performing Arts Center. Based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff, the storyline follows a feisty parolee who ends up working in at a small-town restaurant in Wisconsin. Soon, she’s changing her own destiny—and the titular grill’s.

A few days later, #HereToo will take an insider’s look at gun violence. The devised play showing Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the intimate DUG Theater was conceived of by longtime Tectonic Theatre Project member Barbara Pitts McAdams, and chronicles the first-person experiences of gun violence survivors and the work of young activists from across the United States. It’s heady subject matter, but promises to be well worth your time.

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