PORT ANGELES — For the first time since William Shakespeare first appeared in the woods beside the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, a party is being thrown for him and his fans.
“As You Love It” is the name of the affair — to include food, wine and Shakespearean vignettes — from 5:30 to 7:30 this Friday evening, July 6, at Camaraderie Cellars. The winery, at 334 Benson Road, is collaborating with the fine arts center to host this fundraiser in support of the annual Shakespeare in the Woods production.
Actors and crew from Sequim and across Clallam County will stage the romantic comedy “As You Like It,” July 20-Aug. 5, with performances at 6:30 Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Admission is free, as always — which is where Friday’s Camaraderie Cellars event comes in.
“We want to keep it free. We want everybody in the community to be able to come,” said Jessica Elliott, executive director of the fine arts center.
Friday’s event is aimed at giving Shakespeare in the Woods an infusion of funding for its expenses, which range from costuming, props and makeup to stipends for the small production crew.
Tickets, which include food, Camaraderie wines, nonalcoholic beverages and entertainment, are $30 in advance via the fine arts center website, www.PAFAC.org. If any remain Friday, they will be sold at the door for $35. Elliott added that the center also seeks local business sponsors for Shakespeare in the Woods, presented annually since 2015.
The only way to keep it free, she said, is with community support.
The first play was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream;” then came “The Tempest” in 2016 and “Much Ado about Nothing” last summer. Each year, Elliott said, the Port Angeles Community Players and Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim have been generous in their sharing of resources — wardrobe, promotion, expertise, enthusiasm — and together, the community theater groups have watched audiences grow.
“On our first year for Shakespeare in the Woods, we started off with a total of 300 guests throughout the three weeks of production,” Elliott noted.
“Last year we had more than 1,000 guests attend ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”
Shakespeare can be challenging, she acknowledged, “but just like anything, the more you practice or see something, the easier it gets. Because Shakespeare in the Woods is free, we see families return multiple times over the three weekends. Each time, they pick up on things they missed before. And they leave with a better understanding of what the play was about” — not just the plot, but also its innuendoes and ideas.
The Camaraderie event will be festive, with a quartet of scenes from Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Macbeth” and, to tantalize the audience, “As You Like It.” Performers include Pat Owens and Anna Andersen in “Merry Wives,” Josh McLean and Andersen in “Macbeth” and Josh Sutcliffe and Sharah Truett in “Taming.”
Andersen, artistic director of Shakespeare in the Woods, will pair with Cheryl Koenig, director of this summer’s play, for the comic scene from “As You Like It.”
The menu, along with Camaraderie’s varietals, features Self’s Catering of Forks’ “mushrooms to die for,” balsamic meatballs, blackberry mousse in wineglasses, caramel macchiato cake, creme brûlée and “over-the-top brownies.”
To find out more about Shakespeare in the Woods and other Port Angeles Fine Arts Center activities, visit the website or the Shakespeare in the Woods Facebook page or phone 360-457-3532. The center, showing local artist Michael Paul Miller’s “Wild Olympia” exhibition of paintings and sculpture through this Sunday, is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.