Hamlet in Schiller Park

{alexis}

I feel like this has been the most beautiful summer already. It must be the hideous winter we just escaped, but I swear, every sunny day makes me happier than the sunny day before. I take walks around my building at lunch, just to remind myself that, yes, Ohio can be lovely. We need to stockpile these days; who knows what we’re in store for come January.

With summer comes one of my favorite traditions: Shakespeare in Schiller Park by the Actors’ Theater. Every year, husband and I unearth the fold up chairs we bought for a performance years ago, chill a bottle of white wine (screw top if you don’t have a traveling bottle opener), and toss together a bag with Tervis tumblers, snacks, and a blanket for the second act. This year, we added a new parcel to the mix, and packed up this little guy.

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Yes, you know Indy. He’s a great lover of the bard, and begged us not to leave him at home. Plus, he wanted to show off his new haircut! The thing about Indy, though, is that he’s not very good. Big crowds are tough for him: so many plants to sniff! So many people to growl at!

While husband focused on wrangling the beast, I focused on enjoying the evening. Schiller Park is a relaxing, bucolic setting for the play. It’s so nice to sit back in the grass, the very grass that six months ago was covered in FEET of snow, and take in a show.

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Did I mention that this is free? Well, I should have! The Actors’ Theater is a troupe that performs a few shows throughout the summer in various outdoor venues. They do accept donations, and we also try to pitch in. You should, too! This year, they’re doing promotions with the local eateries. If you eat at the designated restaurant on the designated evening and mention that you’re headed to the show, the restaurant will donate a portion of your bill. Thursday, the night we were there, they were partnered with Schmidt’s Restaurant. (Which I have recommended before and will HEARTILY recommend again.)

And so Hamlet began. Though I’d read it in college (I swear!), I have never seen the show performed live (though, you should ask me about that time I saw The Tempest in Stratford-upon-Avon starring Patrick Stewart as Prospero — TRUE STORY). This version did something a little different, and cast a female actress in the titular role. I love it! The best actor for the job should absolutely be the one that’s cast, and, after all, Shakespeare did all his shows with male actors. Why not do a little gender swapping of our own?

Indy wasn’t quite as entranced, however, and seemed more interested with the other theater-goers and their snacks.

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Husband had to abandon his seat in the interest of preventing a canine meltdown. Indy has this charming habit of crying often, for no clear reason. Just a pointed whine, here, there, and all over Hamlet’s monologue (though that’s no reflection on the actress!). Eventually, we decided to move our little party to the way, way back, where we wouldn’t disturb anyone else. Lucky for me, it was gorgeous there, too.

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As the sun set, we found ourselves in the middle of a constellation of fireflies. Honestly, there must have been twenty of them, popping up all around us. Indy was thoroughly entertained, chasing after the lights before they blinked out. I took the opportunity to admire dusk in the park.

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Before long, we were both tired of restraining the monster and decided to call it a night (plus the wine was gone). We didn’t get to see the ending, but I know what happens. Even with a bad dog, it was a lovely evening, and I’m grateful for a neighborhood that welcomes such an event, and for the actors and crews that put the show on. We’ll be back for The Barber of Seville! This time, though, we may leave poor Indy at home.

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One thought on “Hamlet in Schiller Park

  1. Theatre (and performance generally) is wonderful outdoors – in good weather. I have fond memories of taking students to see Shakespeare plays in Regent’s Park, London. I am glad you enjoyed the experience.

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