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Summertime means Shakespeare in the Park

If you are ever in New York City in the summertime, you can wait in line for the better part of a day to attend a free performance of a Shakespeare in Central Park. Or, if you are lucky enough to reside in or near Marshall, this summer, you can attend up to three free productions of Shakespeare in the Liberty Park Bandshell with no waiting at all.

This weekend the traveling Starling Shakespeare Company will perform two ninety minute performances with 5 actors playing multiple roles. First, they will show “As You Like It” on Saturday at 6 p.m. This romantic comedy features the perils of noblewomen Rosalind and Celia as they flee to the Forest of Arden after a court upset, accompanied by court Jester, Touchstone. Disguised and freed from social constraints, Rosalind and Celia encounter colorful characters and confused suitors in a delightful romp. This play includes the famous Shakespearian monologue by the character Melancholic Jacques: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely Players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His Acts being seven ages.”

If political intrigue is more to your liking, join the Starling Shakespeare Company again on Sunday at 6 p.m. for their production of “Julius Caesar”. This historical drama depicts the conspiracy leading to the fall of Caesar, the ambitious Roman dictator who ruled from 49 to 44 B.C. before being assassinated by his closest allies. Exploring themes of unbridled political power, loyalty, and the makings of political betrayals, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a tale with ongoing relevance, famous for the line: “Et tu Brutus? (You, too, Brutus?”) Then fall, Caesar”.

Finally, in August the Marshall Area Stage Company offers 3 performances of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” on Aug. 18, 19, and 20. “The Winter’s Tale” combines paranoia with psychological drama and romantic comedy. The action unfolds as King Leontes of Sicily wrongly suspects his queen, Hermione, of having an affair with the king of Bohemia. Leontes instructs his nobleman, Lord Antigonus, to abandon the newborn princess in a desolate place to die from exposure. While intending to help her, Lord Antigonus abandons Princess Perdita on the coast of Bohemia after suffering a dangerous storm and bear attack. This scene contains one of Shakespeare’s more amusing stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear”. Perdita is rescued by a Bohemian shepherd and his son, and 16 years later is unknowingly a princess living as a peasant, being wooed by the prince of Bohemia. This play features more of Shakespeare’s iconic themes of double identity and the caprices of human follies, fates, and fortunes.

So if you are in the mood for some Shakespeare in the park, grab your picnic basket and join these casts for some intriguing drama and beautiful words by the Bard this summer.

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