It has been hot this week, and the grass in the cemeteries and parks has been getting dry. It was still very warm at ten o’clock last night as we walked home from seeing The Tempest performed by Original Practice Shakespeare.
OPS, as they call themselves, are a talented group of professional actors who perform up to nineteen of Shakespeare’s plays every summer. They do it the way it was done in Shakespeare’s day, using small scrolls with just each actor’s lines on them. The actor keeps the scroll with them during the play.
This method has the advantage of performing numerous plays in a season, and of us getting to see different performers doing different parts. We have seen Jen Lanier, for example, as both Prospero and Stephano in The Tempest. But it has the disadvantage of keeping us always aware that the actors are reading their lines. It doesn’t allow us to suspend our disbelief.
Still, Shakespeare for free in a lovely glen three blocks away is not to be sneezed at. We took a picnic and our lawn chairs and joined about 60 folks, including little old ladies in wheelchairs and babies in tummy packs, among the tall firs of Laurelhurst Park.
The play started just as the sun began to go down behind the trees. The opening shipwreck scene, with a rattled aluminum sheet for thunder and lunging actors, set the tone of boisterous performances and direct audience response. Shouts of “Look out!” and “Oh, no!” enhanced our involvement in the action.
As the play continued we saw the light change, Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love, a drunken Stephano attempt a coup, and all end well as families are reunited and forgiven. By the time Prospero says “We are such stuff as dreams are made of,” it was time to go home.
And this morning, it is raining. The dry grass of last night’s performance will be greener by afternoon, and our lovely city fresher. Just like tears through laughter is my favorite emotion, rain between sunshine could become my favorite weather.