What We’ve Been Up To This Summer–Shakespeare!

This is a post I wrote today for my gardening blog, Minerva’s Garden, and I thought I’d repost it here for your enjoyment as well!

 

Hiya everone!  It’s been a little hit or miss around here with me with posting for a while, but I thought I’d show you why.

 

We’ve been working on a production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, one of The Bard’s later romances, which our director, the wonderful Douglas Lay, has cleverly turned into a rollicking, over-the-top comedy!  We play outdoors in the parks throughout Portland, Oregon, every weekend starting July 20th and through Labor Day weekend.  (If you are in the area and would like to see it, check out Portland Actors Ensemble for locations, times, dates and more information, and say hi after the show–I’d love to see you!)

 

A very nice audience member, Garry Louie, took some wonderful pictures of the show during our performance at Laurelhurst Park last weekend, so I’d like to share some of those with you.  All of these pictures today come from his Facebook page link as the source.

 

I play two male characters–Pisanio, the servant in the King’s court in Britain, and Caius Lucius, who is a Roman general who eventually wages war against Britain.  The pictures below are all of Pisanio and other of our great cast members.

 

 

Our costume designer, Sherry Ostendorf, is really amazing and did a fantastic job on all of our Renaissance-era costumes.  I’m the one in the center in the brown and yellow, and although I play a servant, I am kind of a dandy in my appearance, with Lord Byron-style hair–he is a servant in the court of the King, after all.  We all play multiple roles, and so each of us has more than one costume that Sherry provided for us–wow!  The costumes are made out of heavy fabrics, so that they not only look great but will also last through the wear and tear they will get over our eight-week run of the play.  They are very warm, we do a lot of running around in this play, and we are performing outdoors in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of a hot summer, so we are drinking lots of water backstage in between our scenes!  We set up two big tents, and that is our backstage area–you can just see the corner of one in this picture.

 

 

There is my wonderful hubby, KJ, playing accordion as well as piano for the show, and myself singing away!  (Check out my gigantic codpiece–it’s roomy enough to hide all kinds of props in there!  I think this might have to be our Christmas card photo this year:)   This is a very musical play–we all sing songs, some original ones that KJ wrote especially for this production, and he provides wonderful background music to the action of the story–yay, KJ!  He is the best at writing witty lyrics and for being able to watch the action going on onstage and coming up with the perfect score off the top of his head that matches the action we’re doing.

 

 

The lady who plays our wicked Queen, Lauren Modica, is a riot onstage and off–you’ll never guess what she just told me here :)  I love working with her–she always makes me laugh, although here she is scaring the crap out of me–that’s the kind of relationship that Pisanio has with the British king and queen in this play.

 

 

The talented actor who plays Princess Imogen, our female lead in the play, Sarah Jane Fridlich, and I have several scenes together.  Here I am about to tell her my cunning plan to help her survive and thrive after she has been imprisoned by her father the King for marrying the wrong man, and she runs away from home.  By this point in the play, Pisanio is her servant and buddy who is always trying to help her out.

 

 

Here I am doing my Act 3 scene 2 monologue–I see that I often have my mouth wide open in these pictures– there is a reason for that  1–My character likes to talk and 2–We are performing outdoors, and you have to really project so that everyone can hear you :)  Here, my master, Posthumus, has just told me in this letter I’m reading that I have to do something that I really don’t want to do, and I’m reacting to that bad news.

 

 

There is KJ at the piano, in this case a battery-operated keyboard–remember, we are playing outdoors in parks where there is no electricity!  Isn’t the piano cover cool–a while back we went thrifting and I found a free dresser that was missing a drawer, so I was thinking about pulling out the remaining drawers and putting baskets in on the shelves instead, so we had this extra dresser drawer hanging around in the garage and it was a perfect fit for the keyboard!  it helps to hide the electronics and makes it all look a little more in keeping with the period of the play.  In this scene, the king’s sons, who were stolen as babies by Belarius, a former servant to the King, but who are now grown, all circle around Imogen’s male counterpart she plays, called Fidele, who is thought dead in this scene (don’t worry–our play has a very happy ending!)

 

 

Some more of the shennanigans near the end of the play.  Here the King, played by V. Spencer Page, is getting a group hug from his re-united family members, and Pisanio just couldn’t resist so he joined in the tail-end of the hug as well :)  You’ll notice I’m carrying a sword here–we have a big sword fight near the end of the play–lots of fun!

 

 

And here we are at curtain call, and you can get another look at all the fabulous costumes!

 

 

Portland Actor’s Ensemble has a lovely long-standing tradition of the actors going out into the audience, right after some of the performances are done, and offering food to the audience!  On this day we had a delicious selection of two types of fresh grapes, watermelon and bread.

 

 

And this is what actors do best after a long and strenuous outdoor Shakespeare performance–we eat!  Although I am missing out here–I must still be talking to people out in the audience :)

 

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my Shakespeare summer, and thanks for reading!

 

 Are you enjoying outdoor summer plays where you live this year?   Have you ever had a chance to see Shakespeare plays performed outdoors?   I’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!

 

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We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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