Shakespeare Rocks Port Huron
By Donald Lierman
Port Huron Times Herald
Billy Shakespeare was the gangsta rapper of his day.
Sex, blood and off-color humor prevail in his work. So, too, does love and tenderness.
Yet, these days, many feel his work is boring and out of time.
Enter Stage Right (ESR) wants to bring the passion and timeliness of the bard to you. On Aug. 14, the inaugural Will on the Water festival will be held on the north lawn of Port Huron’s Municipal Office Center. The free event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the downtown corners of McMorran and Merchant.
Don’t let the antiquated prose scare you.
“We are presenting scenes, rather than entire plays, that are fun and physical so people can get past the language part of it,” said Regina Spain, Managing Director of ESR. “Our goal is to emphasize the joy within the Bard’s work that sometimes gets obscured by his style.”
Will on the Water will showcase highlights from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth” and “The Taming of the Shrew.” An original performance will also be presented that illuminates the wealth of everyday phrases derived from Shakespeare’s writings.
“What makes this event special is that we do not type cast Shakespeare’s characters,” Spain said. “We look at the personalities of the actors and their skills rather than ‘play by the book’. For instance, the players portraying Mercutio and Tybalt from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ will be female.”
As well as performances on Port Huron’s very own Globe stage, a variety of interactive “Pageant Wagons” will allow the patrons to experience life in the days of Shakespeare. These include sword fighting and dancing. Also, “Stalls” will offer delicacies of the period and “Town Criers” will extol the virtues of the festival’s sponsors.
“We call it ‘User Friendly Shakespeare,’ because we want to emphasize the fun and vibrancy of his world,” said Elaine Schatzline-Behr, Artistic Director of ESR. “Remember, he wrote his plays to be performed aloud rather than read in the classroom. His theater was very popular because it was very entertaining
“We want to give participants a sense of what a summer day would have been like in London in 1599. One of the reasons that Shakespeare was so popular was that not only his theater was fun but downtown London of the time was a hopping place. We decided to recreate the world people would have traveled through to get to the Globe Theatre.”
Some of the other interactive experiences for the attendees will be May Day style dance celebrations, drumming and games, including the original version of horseshoes.
People are urged to attend in period costume, much like patrons of the Michigan Renaissance Festival.
Globe stage performances will occur every half hour. All other activities will run throughout the day.
“The festival should be a fabulous addition to the area,” Spain said. “Our goal is that this year we are starting a little small with scenes rather than full plays. Each year we hope to grow a little more.”
For further information, log on to http://www.enterstageright.org or contact Regina Spain at 810-334-6415.
( Fr. Orthopippo – I will be off line for several days for computer repair work and practice for the play.)