The performance is the lone theater piece in THPRD's summer series

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lissie Lewis' Sebastian smiles during Original Practice Shakespeare Festival's production of 'The Tempest' at Schiffler Park on Sunday. For a day anyway, the tempest in Beaverton held off, and 'The Tempest,' in Beaverton greatly benefitted from its absence.


If so, you're no worse off than Antonio, Alonso, Sebastian and other characters in Shakespeare's “The Tempest” — reportedly the last play Shakespeare wrote by himself and one performed by the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival on Sunday at Schiffler Park in central Beaverton.

The play, performed for an audience estimated at 180 under cloudy and threatening skies — but skies that did not spawn a rainstorm (a tempest) on Sunday — was part of Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District's Concerts & Theater in the Park series. “The Tempest” was the only stage performance of the series.

With the Schiffler Park crowd mostly seated on the grass, Original Practice Shakespeare Festival's players roamed the grounds to deliver their lines, oftentimes walking into the crowd itself as characters interacted with each other or delivered Shakespeare's famous soliloquies.

Other OPSF players occasionally joined the action from two small pavilions erected at the head of the performance space, while others entered the fray from behind the crowd or from the sides.

In 'The Tempest,' sorcerer Prospero — the deposed Duke of Milan who has been exiled to a remote island with his daughter Miranda — uses his magic to conjure up the eponymous tempest.

The storm conjured by Prospero — played by Barbara Passolt — causes a shipwreck that lands his usurping brother Antonio (played by Sarah Jane Fridlich) and the complicit King Alonso (John Bruner) of Naples on the island. There, Prospero's machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda (Kaia Maarja Hillier) to Alonso's son, Ferdinand (Will Lippman).

But those are just the facts surrounding this performance. The realities of Original Practice Shakespeare Festival's production are far greater, far more surprising and far more fun.

As to the “Original” in the company's name, here's where it comes from (this from the night's program): the actors get their lines and cues from Shakespeare's First Folio published in 1623; players study the performance techniques in the Original Practice format — as they say, it's “improv-ish;” while the actors have memorized their parts, they never read the full play so the action and narrative may surprise them, too; the actors in the production each carry small scrolls with their lines written on them and those scrolls act as a safety net since players are interacting for the first time; and OPSF encourages the audience to boo — or cheer — depending on their reaction to a player's performance.

Next Up

Original Practice Shakespeare Festival's summer season peaks with 13 shows at the upcoming 2016 Laurelhurst Festival.

The event, set for July 14 to 24 at Laurelhurst Park (at Southeast Ankeny Street and Laurelhurst Place), will see OPSF take over a section of Laurelhurst Park for 13 shows.

The lineup includes: Richard III — 7 p.m. July 14; Hamlet — 7 p.m. July 15; Much Ado About Nothing — 2 p.m. July 16; The Tempest — 7 p.m. July 16; The Comedy of Errors — 10 p.m. July 16; The Taming of the Shrew — 2 p.m. July 17; Romeo and Juliet — 7 p.m. July 17; Henry IV, Part 1 — 7 p.m. July 21; As You Like It — 2 p.m. July 23; Twelfth Night — 7 p.m. July 23; Macbeth — 10 p.m. July 23; The Merry Wives of Windsor — 2 p.m. July 24; A Midsummer Night's Dream — 7 p.m. July 24.

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To address — OK, let's be honest, to have fun with — the players, the audience and Shakespeare's dialogue, OPSF added a new “character” called the Prompter played by Joel Patrick Durham.

On Sunday, Durham was seated at a card table just to the right of the main performance area and clad in a basketball referee's jersey. Why the jersey you might ask? That was Durham's role, to blow his whistle when players struggled with their lines, to remind the players where they left off on their scrolls, and sometimes to take advantage of the situations of the moment.

In another and more prominent example of Durham's role, when a plane flew over Schiffler Park on Sunday, Durham's Prompter encouraged the recently shipwrecked Antonio, Alonso and company to use their bodies to spell out the word “Help,” much to the delight of the evening's audience.

The rest of the production's cast included: Evan Tait as the Shipmaster/Adrian; Jessica Hirschhorn as the Boatswaine/Francisco; Lissie Lewis as Sebastian; Will Lippman as Ferdinand; Mikki Lipsey as Gonzalo; Nikolas Hoback as Ariel; Isabella Buckner as Caliban; Lauren Saville as Trinculo; Brian Allard as Stephano; Kira Marshall as Mariner/Spirit; and Jayde Blackmar as Mariner/Spirit.

Behind the scenes, Allard serves as Founding Artistic Director; he's joined by Company Manager Beth Yocam, Saville as Apprentice Director, Durham as Education Director, and Rachel Saville as accountant.

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