The theater has been a form of entertainment for ages, and one revolutionary of the celebrated art is of course, William Shakespeare. Even if you haven’t seen one of his plays or read one of his stories, Shakespeare has influenced so much of pop culture today… So, it’s safe to say you just might be a fan.
Just look at Disney’s hit classic and one of the highest grossing films of its time, ‘The Lion King,’ and you find parallels to ‘Hamlet’ (as an adaptation), or, more recently, Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ or ‘The Twelfth Night’ can be found to be the antithesis for other popular stories such as films like ‘She’s the Man’ or ’10 Things I Hate About You.’ Music fans will even find notes of one of The Bard’s most famous works from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Taylor Swift songs or in the wildly popular musical ‘West Side Story.’ It’s obvious that his influence reigns on, and that is what sparked one of Philly’s most celebrated outdoor performances every year.
Shakespeare in the Clark Park has been a seasonal staple for the City of Brotherly Love and is back this year after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, from July 28 to Aug. 1, the performers for Shakespeare in Clark Park will be presenting ‘Pericles: Prince of Tyre’ at 7 p.m. nightly. This outdoor presentation is free and open to the public.
The official description of the show from the release reads: “The story starts with an innocent riddle. But when clever Pericles uncovers the horrifying truth, he flees the land of Antioch and sets in motion an adventure full of love, peril and perseverance that reverberates across three nations. With a troupe of tumbling and swirling circus performers, SCP brings to life Pericles’ windswept tale of shipwrecks, chivalry and family finally found.”
The production kicking off this week is directed by Carly L. Bodnar, with costumes by Asaki Kuruma, lighting by Sydney Norris, and scenic design by Marie Laster.
That’s not all the troupe of Shakespearian performers will be offering this summer. For the first time, Shakespeare in Clark Park is also producing in two other locations. Both projects are community-created original pieces (community is a huge part of the organization) led by professional artists that use ‘Pericles’ as a launching point—much like what has been done with The Bard’s work in the past through pop culture.
According to a release, from Aug. 13-15, the Kensington team (directed by Sam Tower with lead writer Alexandra Espinoza) will present ‘Peril’s Island’ in Harrowgate Park. Then later on in the summer from Aug. 27-29, the Germantown crew (directed by Seema Sueko with lead writer Angela Bey) will present ‘Germantown Plays Pericles’ in Vernon Park. All three projects include sound design by Tony Award Winner, Robert Kaplowitz.
The first spin-off in Harrowgate Park is described as an immersive and original experience and will also be completely free, due to the support of the William Penn Foundation. The second show taking place in Vernon Park is also immersive but adds a bit more to the event. Before the show, audience members of all ages will be able to explore a fair with interactive art installations, games, music, mutual aid and resources with the show following soon after. Those who head out to watch the show are encouraged to bring their own blanket or chair as well. This show, like the first two, will also be performed for audience members free of charge.
All three shows are also presented by PNC Arts Alive. “Through PNC Arts Alive, we continue to help invigorate local arts organizations while bringing new and exciting programs to our community,” said Joe Meterchick, PNC regional president for Philadelphia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey in a statement. “The creativity and collaboration demonstrated by the local arts community is evident in the programs that will be introduced, while enabling new visitors and residents alike to experience a diverse range of exhibits and performances.”
For more information on Shakespeare in Clark Park, visit shakespeareinclarkpark.org