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
Virtual: Shakespeare in the Park Adventure Game 2020
O, Wonder! is Seattle Shakespeare Company’s all-ages scavenger hunt-style adventure game from July 9 – August 20, 2020!
Teams can join via a mobile app and complete Shakespeare-related missions for points. Teams may join the game at any point, and anyone can play!
Missions include answering questions or completing activities and submitting photos or videos. The missions can be done at home or within your neighborhood. New missions will be released until the end of the game, all within the app GooseChase.
Search for “GooseChase” on the App Store or Google Play or find the link on their website along with more info on how to join the fun this summer: https://www.seattleshakespeare.org/o-wonder/
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.
Virtual play readings with GreenStage
Although outdoor Shakespeare in the Parks wont’ be back until 2021 it’s jut not summer time unless there is some Shakespeare! So in summer 2020 there will be socially-distant but friendly Shakespeare in the (virtual) Park!
Each one night play reading gets you a sneak preview virtual performance from the extremely talented cast members of GreenStage. The performances will be available via Zoom, GreenStage YouTube channel and GreenStage Facebook page. Read more about each play below.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Taylor Davis. Two quarreling fairies; four sparring lovers under the spell of a love potion; a motley crew of rude mechanicals determined to put on a play; and one impish Puck relentlessly causing mischief for them all. It all adds up to one perfect storm of chaos in Shakespeare’s most enchanting comedy.
Henry V. Directed by Vince Brady. Continuing our history cycle, Henry V picks up after the events of Henry IV. After the death of his father, Henry has chosen to leave behind his rebellious youth for the responsibilities of ruling his kingdom. With England weakened and France threatening war Henry gathers his troops in what he hopes will unite the country. But when his army is stopped in France and his men outnumbered with a storm of swords around him he must become the king he was born to be. Henry V is the fourth play in Shakespeare’s eight-play, double-tetralogy of history plays chronicling the reigns of Richard II, Henrys IV, V and VI, and culminating with Richard III.
The Tempest. Directed by Ken Holmes. On an isolated magical island, Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan and self-taught sorcerer lives in banishment. For years, his only company has been his brave young daughter, an airy magical spirit and an enslaved monster. But he hungers for revenge and the opportunity comes when he creates a powerful storm to shipwreck those who did him wrong. Shakespeare’s final and most personal play, The Tempest is a powerful and often funny story of love, forgiveness and redemption.