By Susan McCabe
For Vashon Repertory Theatre
When Shakespeare wrote “The Tempest,” there were no women in Elizabethan theatre. Vashon Repertory Theatre’s Theatre Fest will change that up this summer.
The Fest will host six performances of “The Tempest” outdoors at Open Space for Arts & Community, with local theater veteran Jeanne Dougherty in the powerful lead role of Prospero, the vengeful Duke of Milan. The play — one of The Bard’s greatest — features political intrigue, sorcery, romance, and a gang of rude clowns.
Shakespeare’s works contain such universal themes that they easily lend themselves to interpretation.
“At its heart, ‘The Tempest’ is about family – family betrayal, family loss, protecting family,” said Dougherty. “Seeing that through a woman’s lens is a seismic shift in perspective.”
The show’s seasoned director, Darragh Kennan, said the power of the play is not gender-specific.
“Like many of Shakespeare’s later plays, redemption and the act of forgiveness have strong currents throughout ‘The Tempest,’ as does the question of revenge,” he said. “The play shows us ourselves and our faults, our demons and our angels, and even lets us question our existence.”
According to Kennan, the play challenges audiences to ask, “what do we do with the time we have? What do we leave behind?”
But above all, “The Tempest” is meant to be entertaining, and with that purpose in mind, Kennan has assembled a notable cast of actors to take the stage. The play’s leads also include Mik Kuhlman as Ariel, an aging sprite, and Meghan Ames and her true-life partner Christopher Kehoe as the romantic leads, Miranda and Ferdinand. Also look for the dynamic duo of Stephen Floyd and Phil Dunn in the cast, and other familiar faces from Vashon’s vibrant theater scene.
Performances of “The Tempest” will take place at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 25; and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and Aug. 1, at Open Space for Arts & Community.
More about Vashon Theatre Fest
During the last two weekends of July, the Vashon Theatre Fest will host 33 performances in four different venues of five distinct productions. In addition to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” patrons can enjoy “Woody Guthrie’s American Song,” a musical that blends theatrical storytelling and bluegrass folk into a one-of-a-kind look at the work, life and legacy of Woody Guthrie. Productions of that show will take place in Ober Park.
“FAIL BETTER – Beckett moves UMO,” will tackle life, death, and the mundane with comedy, metaphor, stillness, – and a giant seesaw, at Open Space for Arts & Community. The only indoor performance, a one-person show taking place at Vashon Center for the Arts, will be “Bo-Nita,” which employs humor, pathos, and a dash of Midwest magical realism to follow a mother and daughter’s journey through a working-class America of dwindling resources. “Plays in a Snap!’ will showcase new theatrical creations with readings on Snapdragon Café’s outdoor patio.
The Theater Fest has been brought to Vashon by Vashon Repertory Theatre.
All the Fest’s performances will be staged with current COVID guidelines in place. Individual tickets, ranging from $15 to $20, are available online at vashonrepertorytheatre.org. Weekend passes, also available online, can turn the Vashon Theatre Fest into an affordable weekend staycation complete with discounts for patrons at select island restaurants and businesses.