Three theater groups stage Shakespeare plays outdoors

Shakespeare in the Park — referred to as such since the early 1960s when Shakespeare’s plays began to be staged each summer in New York’s Central Park — has inspired many free outdoor productions of works by the Bard.

Regionally, a number of Shakespeare companies have plans to perform free shows this summer. Among them are Seattle Shakespeare Co., Last Leaf Productions from Monroe and Shakespeare Northwest’s Skagit River Festival near La Conner.

This summer, Last Leaf performs abridged versions of “Much Ado About Nothing,” featuring the comedic bickering between Beatrice and Benedict. and “Richard III,” the most reviled of villains in Shakespeare’s work.

“Richard III” will be performed at 5 p.m. July 13 at Paula’s Wine Knot, 19829 168th St. SE, Monroe; “Much Ado About Nothing” at 6 p.m. July 19 in Terrace Park, 809 E. Fifth, Arlington; “Much Ado” at noon July 20 at Rosehill Community Center, Mukilteo; and “Richard III” at 2 p.m. July 27 in the 92nd Street Park in Mukilteo.

Seattle Shakespeare Co. presents “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” in which Valentine and Proteus fight over Silvia while Julia tries to win Proteus back, and “Julius Caesar,” the political thriller set in Rome.

Locally, “Julius Caesar” will be staged at 7 p.m. July 16 and 17 at Lynndale Park Amphitheater, 18927 72nd Ave. W., Lynnwood; “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at 3 p.m. July 20 at Edmonds City Park, Third Avenue and Pine Street, Edmonds; and the comedy plays again at 7 p.m. July 23 and 24 at Lynndale Park in Lynnwood.

Shakespeare Northwest has already performed the company’s free shows this summer, but if you are inclined to take a little road trip, the Skagit River Shakespeare Festival at the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre southeast of La Conner has numerous performances scheduled.

This summer, the company is doing “Macbeth” and “Much Ado” in rotation. Check the schedule and ticket information at www.shakesnw.org.

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