When Shakespeare in Clark Park was casting about for a director to create their upcoming production of “The Tempest,” they were looking for an artist that understood the special freedoms, flexibilities and, well, inflexibilities of working in their beloved West Philly park.
They quickly chose local avant-garde director Adrienne Mackey and presented her with the foremost challenge: SCP has no stage or amphitheater – never has, since their inception in 2005. Their minimal sets utilize the natural hills and trees of the park. Plus any wildlife that happen to stroll through.
“We were [rehearsing] in the park for the first time, and there were people walking through with ferrets on leashes. And I just thought, ‘how can an actor compete with a ferret on a leash?’” says Mackey. “So we have to figure out how that kind of thing can be a part of our world, or no one will be paying attention.”
Mackey should be up to that task: Her experimental company, Swim Pony Performing Arts, specializes in site-specific theater. She plans to uproot the usual SCP setup by staging much of the play within the audience itself.
“We’re not looking to do anything as avant-garde as Adrienne’s [usual work]. But just by the nature of our setup, the Shakespeare in Clark Park esthetic is a little out of the box,” explains SCP artistic director, Marla Burkholder. “Because our audience isn’t just going to the theater to see Shakespeare. Hopefully, it’s an event that has a range of possibilities.”
Shakespeare in Clark Park’s production of “The Tempest” will feature original live music written and performed by Sean Hoots of the local band Hoots and Hellmouth.
Shakespeare in Clark Park’s ‘The Tempest’
July 24-28, 7 p.m.
43rd St. and Chester Ave.