William Shakespeare, known as The Bard*, was an English playwright and poet who lived the late 16th and early 17th century. He wrote dozens of plays; including histories about English kings, tragedies such as Macbeth and Hamlet, a long list of comedies, over 100 sonnets, and poems. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest, if not the greatest English writer of all time. (*Bard means poet)
Shakespeare’s sonnets and many portions of his plays were composed in a traditional poetry form of the time known as iambic pentameter. A line of verse contains ten syllables, with stress placed on every other syllable. In his plays, he often (but not always) used unrhymed iambic pentameter known as “blank verse”, or placed stress on different syllables, used rhyming couplets, and used other forms such as trochaic tetrameter.
Here are some of his more famous quotes, which demonstrate several of these styles:
- From Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2): “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?”
- From Julius Caesar (Act 3, Scene 2): “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!”
- From Richard III (Act 1, Scene 1): “Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York”
- Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1): “To be, or not to be: that is the question”
- Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2): “Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
- Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 1): “Liver of blaspheming Jew,Gall of goat, and slips of yew. Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips”
Today, Shakepeare’s works are the most performed and read plays in theaters and performance venues around the world.
Why have these works stood the test of time above all others? Some say it is due to the ambiguity of the play’s meaning and of the actions of the characters. This allows Shakespeare’s plays to be continually re-invented and re-imagined, whether as stage plays, or in our time, as movie themes.
From Germany to Jerusalem, prison theaters and refugee camps, you can find Shakespeare’s’ plays under production.
In Seattle during summer, The Bard’s plays are performed in parks throughout the Puget Sound region, for you to enjoy in a relaxing and casual setting.
Seattle Shakespeare Company summer in the parks series
Seattle Shakespeare Company is the Puget Sound region’s year-round, professional, classical theatre. The company’s success stems from a deep belief in the power and vibrancy of classical playwrights along with a commitment to artistic excellence on stage. Their provocative performances challenge and delight audiences in Washington State, while fostering an appreciation for great stage works. Their programs include indoor performances, free outdoor summer productions, and regional tours, plus educator and youth programs.
Founded in 1994, Wooden O started with annual summer Shakespeare performances at Mercer Island’s Luther Burbank Amphitheater. Demand for the free summer Shakespeare performances grew, and over the years park venues from Lynnwood to Auburn were added to the schedule. In the spring of 2008 Wooden O merged with Seattle Shakespeare Company.
Wooden O free, outdoor productions of classical plays are offered during summer in parks throughout the Puget Sound region. Grab a picnic and bring your family.
2018 season: July 12-Aug. 12, 2018. Check the Wooden O schedule for a performance in a park near you or download their Mobile App from the Apple Store or Google Play.
GreenStage Shakespeare in the Parks series
GreenStage presents Shakespeare in the Park and an Outdoor Theater festival in Seattle Parks. All productions are free, fun, and family oriented, focusing on the text and story of the play.
The talent of the artists, beauty of the natural park spaces, and participation of the audience creates inspiring productions. Shakespeare’s characters and words come to life in eye-opening ways in these intimate, outdoor performances.
2018 season: July 13–August 18, 2018. Check the GreenStage calendar for a performance in a park near you.