William Shakespeare 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, poems, and over 100 sonnets (a poem of fourteen lines).
Known as “The Bard” (which means poet), he is regarded by many as one of the greatest, if not the greatest English writer of all time.
Shakepeare’s works are the most performed and read plays in theaters and performance venues around the world. From Germany to Jerusalem, prison theaters and refugee camps, you can find Shakespeare’s’ plays under production.
Many portions of his plays, as well as his sonnets were composed in a traditional poetry form of the time known as iambic pentameter. A line of iambic 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”, which placed stress on different syllables. But he also used rhyming couplets and other forms such as trochaic tetrameter.
Here are some of his more famous quotes, which demonstrate several of these syllabic rhyming 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”
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.
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 outdoor setting.
Wooden O Shakespeare in the Park series
Seattle Shakespeare Company is the Puget Sound region’s year-round, professional, classical theatre. The company began production at Seattle Center in 1991. Their success stems from a deep belief in the power and vibrancy of classical playwrights along with a commitment to artistic excellence on stage. Provocative performances challenge and delight audiences in Washington State, while fostering an appreciation for great stage works. Programs include indoor performances, free outdoor summer productions, regional tours, and educator and youth programs.
Wooden O’s* inaugural show was performed in August 1994 at Luther Burbank Park. Demand for the free summer Shakespeare performances grew. So, over the years park venues have been added throughout the Puget Sound region. Grab a picnic and bring your family.
*Wooden O refers to the shape of outdoor theatres in Shakespeare’s time, a ring of galleries with a space in the center open to the sky
The Summer 2021 production is The Comedy of Errors
- July 23rd, 7pm-9pm
Riverton Heights Park 3011 S. 148th, SeaTac
- July 24th, 7pm-9pm
Klahanie Park 25000 SE Klahanie Blvd, Issaquah
- July 25th, 6pm-8pm
Mural Amphitheatre at Seattle Center 305 Harrison Street, Seattle
- July 29th, 7pm-9pm
Confluence Park 595 Rainier Blvd N, Issaquah
- July 30th, 7pm-9pm
Wright Park 501 South I Street, Tacoma
- August 1st, 5pm-7pm
Des Moines Beach Park 22030 Cliff Ave S, Des Moines
- August 4th, 7pm-9pm
Steel Lake Park 2410 S 312th St, Federal Way
- August 6th, 7pm-9pm
Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park 5361 Yacht Club Rd, Tacoma
- August 7th, 6pm-9pm
Columbia Park 4721 Rainier Ave S, Seattle
- August 8th. 5pm-7pm
Seward Park Amphitheater 5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S, Seattle
Note: dates, times, and venues subject to change, so double check before you go!
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.
Summer 2021 at Green Stage brings Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest