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Shakespeare in the Park

- Hye Sung

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One reason I love Portland: Original Practice Shakespeare (OPS). A few weeks back I went to the top of Mt. Tabor, a dormant volcanic vent in my neighborhood, with snacks and a blanket on hand, and watched the OPS crew perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It. Was. Hilarious. And I’m not even that into Shakespeare. In fact, I used to dread reading Shakespeare in high school. But seeing it performed is different than reading it in class, and OPS is veeeeeeery unique.

OPS faithfully walks in the tradition of Shakespeare. They use natural lighting (other than the special performance I saw, which was in the middle of the night) and there is not much of a set. The most unique aspect of OPS is that there is little rehearsal. The actors have a tiny scroll of their lines, and are often just as surprised as the audience to the movement of the plot. The acting moves fast and things can get a bit improvisational, and the audience is very much involved. In fact, booing and cheering are encouraged, just like in the days of Shakespeare. Also, the actors are not scared of getting involved with the audience, as they often make their way into the audience and even respond to their shouts. Just as outrageous as the acting are the outfits. The crew has a very eclectic and even eccentric taste. Overall, the OPS twist to Shakespeare is both modern and absurd. It’s a glorious mixture of things that makes for a great time for the whole family. And… it’s free!

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This summer, from July 23rd to August 2nd, there is the Fourth Annual Laurelhurst Festival. There will be 12 different performances of 11 different Shakespeare plays. To find out the days and times of the performances at the Festival and otherwise, check out their website here.





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