Shakespeare in the Park is New York City’s most revered theater festival, created in 1954 by legendary producer and director Joseph Papp. The goal was to bring free workshops to actors and playwrights and free performances to the people. Just a year shy of the 60th anniversary, it’s safe to say he succeeded.
Helman is directing this year’s installment of Bard in the Quad at OSU. Now in its eighth season, the Corvallis answer to Shakespeare in the Park is back with its genre playfulness for one more weekend. There are four shows this weekend, every night at 7:30 p.m. starting on Thursday, Aug. 15. The performances are held in the Memorial Union Quad and tickets are still available for all showings.
Bard in the Quad was started by visiting instructor Scott Palmer in 2006. The first show was Romeo and Juliet; over 3,000 people came to see its short run. The university immediately knew it had a hit on its hands and made it an annual event.
Last year’s performance was Taming of the Shrew, and two years ago Seattle director and OSU alum Sheila Daniels directed a groovy ’60s version of As You Like It. The ability to take Shakespeare’s work and put it in crazy settings is half the fun.
This is Helman’s third time directing the show.
“This is my favorite thing to do! It’s great for the students, too,” says Helman, who also directed in 2009 and 2010.
This year’s production is Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. The twist in this performance is that it’s set in contemporary times on the Jersey Shore. Would a Snooki by any other name be as obnoxious?
The cast is made up mostly of OSU theater majors, however all performances have open casting calls to the community, and there are four non-student community members in the cast.
“We love to do Comedy of Errors, and we haven’t done it before. It’s this ludicrous story of two sets of twins with the same names,” Helman continues. “There’s mistaken identity, fights breaking out for no reason, people having sex… So clearly we thought, Jersey Shore.”
General admission is $15 ($10 for seniors and $5 for students), and you can reserve tickets online or buy them at the box office.
By Ygal Kaufman