It’s hard to believe, but Kelly Kitchens, even with her deep love of Shakespeare, wasn’t all that drawn to The Tempest. Yet, it ‘s a play that kept coming back to her and asking her to explore it. “It’s a play that’s not done with me yet,” she said. Kelly’s directing The Tempest for Wooden O this summer. Take 5 minutes and listen to what she thinks about the play now.
Wooden O celebrates its 20th Anniversary season this summer with productions of Henry V (the company’s namesake play) and The Tempest. We spoke with some Wooden O alums about their fondest memories of performing in the parks.
If you have a favorite Wooden O memory, please share it with us in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
Wooden O Dramatis Personae
Louise Butler: One Wooden O show in 2011 (Macbeth); returning this summer to stage manage Henry V.
Jim Gall: Two Wooden O shows, first in 2008 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream); returning this summer in The Tempest
David S. Hogan: Five Wooden O shows, first in 2002 (The Two Gentlemen of Verona); returning this summer in Henry V.
Kelly Kitchens: Five Wooden O shows, first in 2002 (The Winter’s Tale); returning this summer to direct The Tempest.
Michael Patten: Three Wooden O shows, first in 2006 (Hamlet); returning this summer in Henry V.
David Quicksall: (Four Wooden O shows, first in 2005 (Twelfth Night); returning this summer in Henry V.
Amy Thone: (Seven Wooden O shows, first in 1996 (Henry V); returning this summer in The Tempest.
Smiles on a Summer Night
Kelly Kitchens Shrew, I have to say, is always going to have a special place in my heart. Getting to throw a beer can across the stage, who doesn’t love that? It’s hard to pick! I’d do it every summer. I would load up the van anytime they asked me to.
David Quicksall When we did The Taming of the Shrew at Steel Lake in Federal Way, this kid brought her pet bunny. At very inopportune moments, the bunny kept running onto the stage and was part of the action, and the little kid had to run up on stage to corral her bunny.
David S. Hogan I have a pretty big spot in my heart for The Taming of the Shrew, because there were so many of my friends in that show, along with my wife, Angela DiMarco. I just love working with the family. To me this really feels like a family. I think this is my sixth show, and just being outdoors, you feel such a palpable connection to the audience. I can’t compare it to any other theatrical community experience. It’s just terrific.
Amy Thone My favorite memory is from a long time ago. In fact, it’s so long ago and I’m so old that it’s a little bit foggy. We did Henry V and Todd Jamieson, may he rest in peace, directed it. In fact, his wife was in it and his kid, Harry, was an intern, and I played the Chorus. My daughter, who was then three, wandered around and usually had somebody taking care of her…thank God! But at one point the Chorus says this beautiful line about a “little vessel having a great heart.” And when I said the line, I watched my daughter wander around in the park, and I got to think of her as this great heart in a little body.
Kelly Kitchens The Winter’s Tale was special for me. That moment when Leontes says “Oh, she’s warm” and that statue comes back to life…I remember being down in SeaTac at Angle Lake Park and hearing that collective gasp from the audience when she moves. It’s a story that I really love to tell and the opportunity to live inside that world and create that character, it was an act of grace. Hermione is a woman who’s fighting passionately for her family. Playing her changed me a little bit. Also it was my first Wooden O show, so it’s always going to have such a special place in my heart.
Louise Butler My favorite Wooden O memory is swimming off of Mercer Island two summers ago for Macbeth. It was great. Everybody in the cast of Mackers brought their trunks or their swimsuits and we hung out. It was an idyllic summer day.
Michael Patten My favorite Wooden O moment…it’s almost impossible to pick just one, but the very first show I did with Wooden O playing Claudius with George as Hamlet. Also getting to be the first show that went to Vashon Island last year with The Winter’s Tale. It was pretty magical.
David Quicksall My favorite Wooden O moment was last year in The Winter’s Tale as Autolycus. When I made my entrance, I would eat people’s food and drink their wine or whatever they had available. I went up to this one couple that had a big bottle of Mountain Dew. I cracked open the top of it and took a huge swallow, and by the time it got into my mouth and halfway into my stomach, I realized it was almost all vodka. So I had to make a decision whether to swallow all this alcohol that was in my mouth…remember I still had a whole show to do…or spit it out. So I swallowed it.
Kelly Kitchens But then, there’s the Bull Pen…There’s a place near SeaTac called the Bull Pen. It’s epic. It’s a Wooden O tradition that if you’re down there performing you gotta make a pit stop at the Bull Pen. They do karaoke. Not college karaoke…these people are serious about their karaoke. And you can get a lot of fried brown at this place, so that’s a lot of fun.
Jim Gall My favorite memory happened last year. I was playing Sir Toby Belch, and I had a gag where I had a water bottle around my waist and I used it urinate my name on the backdrop. But at once performance, I forgot to get the top back on and it soaked my pants, so I spent the rest of the show like a skid row bum with a big stain on my shorts. Everyone enjoyed it except for me.
Kelly Kitchens It’s such a family, that’s why it’s hard to pick a favorite memory. George Mount has such a gift for creating family, building a company, and telling these stories. The family of Wooden O that he has created, it’s arms are open wide and they enfold every member…and so a favorite memory, it’s hard because it’s like which favorite Christmas did you have growing up? It’s hard to choose. What I do love about it is that no matter where you go or whether you’re performing that summer or not, you’re part of the Wooden O family.
This summer Seattle Shakespeare Company will celebrate 20 years of free Shakespeare in the parks with productions of the Henry V and The Tempest. Performances of both productions will begin on Thursday, July 11 and will run through Sunday, August 11, 2013.
“When I started Wooden O in 1994, I was fueled by that youthful exuberance to dream big without really knowing where it will end up or how far it could go,” said Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director George Mount. “In order to make it to this milestone, it took a number of heroes helping out along the way to create the theatrical magic each summer. And so for this anniversary we have a little bit of both; Shakespeare’s heroic and ambitious Henry V and the magical, melancholy The Tempest.”
Mount will direct Henry V assisted by fellow founding Wooden O company member Vanessa Miller. In Henry V a young, untried king tests his mettle in battle against overwhelming odds. His army dispirited and outnumbered, his conscience unsure of his cause or his abilities, the young King Henry learns that leadership is far more than just being the one with the crown.
Actress and director Kelly Kitchens, who will appear as Kate in our upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew, will direct The Tempest, Shakespeare’s magical tale where revenge yields to forgiveness. Exiled by his younger brother and marooned on an enchanted island with his daughter, the aging sorcerer Prospero discovers the human heart wields a greater power than all the spells at his command.
Seattle Shakespeare Company’s free Wooden O shows will be performed in parks at Mercer Island, Sammamish, Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds, SeaTac, Issaquah, and Shoreline. All performances are free and open to the public with donations encouraged at the site. Specific dates for venues as well as additional performance venues will be announced at a later date.
A ship bearing the king of Naples, his son Ferdinand, the duke of Milan, and their retinues is caught in a storm. On a nearby island, Prospero and his daughter Miranda watch as the ship is wrecked on the rocky coast. Miranda knows that her father has magic powers and begs him to use them to save the ship. He tells her that it is he who has created the storm and explains to her how they came to live on the island. He was once the duke of Milan, who was deposed by his brother Antonio with the help of the king of Naples. He was set adrift in a small boat with his baby daughter with the intention that both would drown. All of the perpetrators of this crime are on board the presently sinking ship.
Prospero is a powerful magician, and has freed Ariel and other spirits of the island from enslavement to a witch. He as in turn enslaved the witch’s monstrous son Caliban as punishment for attempting to rape his daughter.
At Prospero’s bidding, Ariel saves the young prince Ferdinand from the shipwreck and introduces him to Miranda. The two fall in love.
The rest of the royals find themselves on another part of the island, where the king of Naples fears that his son is dead and Ariel uncovers a plot against his life by his brother, Sebastian.
Caliban has been found by two of the king’s servants, who get him drunk and together they plot to kill Prospero. Ariel warns Prospero and leads the would-be assassins astray.
Ariel brings the bewildered royals to Prospero’s cell, where they are confined in a magic circle. Duke Antonio and the king of Naples confess their sins against him. He reveals to them Miranda and Ferdinand playing together. Father and son are joyously reunited. Prospero frees Ariel before renouncing his magic powers. Everyone prepares to return to Italy, where Prospero will be restored to his dukedom.
From Shakespeare Genealogies by Vanessa James