Outdoor theater. Theater that is outdoors. Teatro al aire libre. Al fresco. En plein aire. This summer brings another year of Shakespeare on grassy knolls and child-oriented plays beneath leafy trees and beside bodies of water (Lake Washington, the Seattle waterfront).
You know, or can infer, the drill: blankets and/or folding chairs are comfortable, as are snacks (grapes! cheese! chips!). Beer, wine and mojito-filled thermoses are technically forbidden, but that never seems to stop anybody as long as they’re discreet and polite. Smoking is frowned upon.
If you want to make a day of it, consider a jauntier mode of transportation: bikes, horseback, broom. If you can locate a friendly theater aficionado with access to a sailboat, perhaps you’ll ride the breeze to some locations, including the public dock at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island.
Here are some of the outdoor theater productions happening this summer (check websites for details and updates):
SEATTLE SHAKESPEARE COMPANY/WOODEN O
“Romeo and Juliet” (July 11-Aug. 11): “Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books, but love from love, toward school with heavy looks.” Directed by Leah Adcock-Starr, this “Romeo and Juliet” will pop up at Puget Sound-area parks this summer, including Volunteer Park, Luther Burbank Park, Seattle Center, Lynndale Park and the Issaquah Community Center Open Space. See seattleshakespeare.org for details.
“Twelfth Night” (July 11-Aug. 11): “I’m sure care’s an enemy to life.” Mary Machala directs this Shakespeare mistaken-identity play that begins when a shipwreck separates the twins Viola and Sebastian. People fall in love with people they’re not supposed to. See seattleshakespeare.org for details.
“Henry IV, part 2” (July 12-Aug. 17): “A good wit will make use of anything; I will turn diseases to commodity.” Directed by Chris Shea, the second part of the Henry plays features Prince Hal vanquishing his enemy Hotspur but continuing to run with Falstaff and the Elizabethan bad boys. The King, Hal, and Falstaff will be played by women as women. See greenstage.org for details.
“The Taming of the Shrew” (July 12-Aug. 17): “Do as adversaries do in law — strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” Jennifer Crooks directs an all-female-identifying cast as a suffragette-era staging of Shakespeare’s early comedy about a man “taming” a woman who doesn’t want to get married. See greenstage.org for details.
Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival (July 13-14): For one weekend, 10 theater companies take over Volunteer Park with lots of Shakespeare (“As You Like It,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Henry VIII,” more) and other stuff. Dacha Theatre will perform its kiddie fable “The Bee-Man of Orn”; 14/48, “the world’s quickest theater festival,” will stage a kid-friendly experiment in theater on the fly; and Theater Schmeater has another child-friendly production titled “The Fabulous Fable Factory.” See greenstage.org/sotf for details.
“Metamorphoses” (July 19-Aug. 4): Dacha Theatre produces Mary Zimmerman’s loose, 11-vignette adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphosis,” with familiar Greek characters: King Midas, Eros and Psyche, Orpheus and Eurydice, and the gang. Zimmerman’s play calls for a pool of water onstage and Dacha has a big pool to play with — this production comes to Magnuson Park on the shores of Lake Washington. See dachatheatre.com for details.
“The Odyssey” (July 21-Aug. 4): Book-It stages “The Odyssey: An Exploration of Myth, Magic, and Monsters,” its 45-minute adaptation of the Homeric poem, recommended for K-6 students. Written and directed by Annie DiMartino and performed at a pier along the Seattle waterfront, exact location TBA. See book-it.org for details.
“The Fabulous Fable Factory” (July 13-Aug. 15): Joseph Robinette’s kid-friendly play about a kid who stumbles into Mr. Aesop’s old factory and his “assembly line of fablemakers,” directed by D.R. Amromin and coming to local parks. See schmee.org for details.