A literary rock star is descending on Orcas.
The work of the Bard will be performed on the streets of Eastsound and the Seattle Shakespeare Company is presenting “Julius Caesar” during the second annual Shakespeare Festival.
Sponsored by the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, the event is designed to bring visitors to the island during the off-season. This year will feature workshops, dinner with the actors, a parade, appearances from Shakespeare himself and performances in the school.
“This helps lodging, restaurants and businesses,” said Chamber Board President Michell Marshall. “People who come here for the festival may come back and tell friends about it.”
Board member Susan Gudgell says it’s important to recognize that these kinds of events contribute to a regional image of Orcas Island.
Chimayo and Sazio restaurant owner Bill Patterson gave Marshall the initial idea, after connecting her with the Seattle Shakespeare Company.
“It is something that benefits the entire community in the long-run,” he said. “We had an uptick in business, but that’s not the point. It was well received, people participated, the shows were sold out. Michell is the perfect person to run this. We are looking forward to year two.”
Actress and life-long Shakespeare aficionado Jane Alden is once again at the creative helm. She feels strongly about the community connection to the event.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come out onto the streets, after being inside all winter, and play with others,” Alden said. “There is such a camaraderie and spirit among the performers … a great thing this year is that kids who grew up here are returning to direct and act during the festival. It’s community-affirming.”
Sponsors of the event are Cherie Lindholm Real Estate, Jonathan White, Kenmore Air, Gudgell Properties, Lower Tavern, Office Cupboard, Orcas Lodging Association, Islanders Bank, Island Market, Orcas Net, Sazio di Notte and Turtleback Farm Inn. The chamber is looking for more sponsors to help pay for the event.
Sazio di Notte is hosting a fundraising dinner with the Seattle Shakespeare Company actors from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $125 per person and includes wine. Contact the chamber at 376-2273, Sazio at 376-6394 or the Office Cupboard at 376-2378 for reservations.
Casey Brown of the Seattle Shakespeare Company will teach a one-hour adult actors combat class at 4 p.m. in the Victorian Room at The Outlook Inn. The cost is $30 per person. All proceeds will go towards the festival.
Earlier in the day, Orcas High School students will be treated to a performance of “Julius Caesar” and a combat class.
The festival will kick off at 11 a.m. with a parade through Eastsound. Community members are highly encouraged to participate; sign up at the chamber office. Shakespeare (played by Paul Freedman) will be bopping around town in a horse-drawn cart with his entourage until 4 p.m. First he will go the Village Green stage, where he will be presented with a key to city, made by Deborah Sparks, while the Orcas School band performs. Shakespeare will then journey to the Orcas Library to chat with kids and then over to Darvill’s, where he will sign any book in the store that is related to Shakespeare. Town criers, fairies, actors and jugglers will be mingling in town as well. Businesses are encouraged to participate with decorations and special promotions.
In addition, there will be performances on the stage throughout the afternoon, including silks dancing and vignettes from plays. Watch for a full schedule in an upcoming edition of the Sounder. Alden is also renaming all of the streets in Eastsound after Shakespeare plays. A flyer with a schedule of events as well as a map of the “new” town will be available soon.
The festival will culminate with the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s performance of “Julius Caesar” at Orcas Center, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. A wine reception will be held at 7 p.m. in the lobby.