PORT ANGELES — Earlier this decade, two women walked into Webster’s Woods and foresaw comedy, romance, sword fights, weddings — in other words, Shakespeare.
With actors, costumes and energy from the local theater community, they made it happen.
Now Jessica Elliott, executive director of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, and Anna Andersen, artistic director of Shakespeare in the Woods, are celebrating that summer festival’s fifth anniversary.
This Saturday brings A “Shrew” To-Do, a party in honor of the summer 2019 Shakespeare in the Woods production of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
With Blackbird Coffeehouse appetizers, prizes, dramatic monologues and merriment, the event is a 3 p.m. matinee at Studio Bob, upstairs at 118½ E. Front St.
As this is a fundraiser to keep all “Taming” performances free to the public, tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.
To purchase and find out more, see www.pafac.org and click on the “A Shrew To-Do” link on the left side of the home page.
Actor and director Josh Sutcliffe, who has appeared in Shakespeare in the Woods’ “Much Ado about Nothing,” “As You Like It” and “The Tempest,” is directing a variety of Shakespeare excerpts for Saturday’s party.
Richard Stephens, Emma Easton, Andersen and Sutcliffe all will do brief speeches from the bard’s works, and then talk a bit about the impact the festival has had on them as creative people.
Andersen will perform Catherine of Aragon’s monologue from “Henry VIII,” one of her all-time favorites, while Sutcliffe will do the so-called “push-up monologue” from “Much Ado about Nothing.” And for the finale, he will offer a sonnet — a love poem as only Shakespeare could write.
“It says a lot that a town this size has a Shakespeare festival,” Sutcliffe said, adding that Saturday is a chance for him to say thank you to the people who’ve supported Shakespeare in the Woods. They have, the actor said, given him a priceless chance to bring the bard’s masterpieces to life.
“The Taming of the Shrew” was chosen at last year’s Shakespeare in the Woods fundraiser, a sold-out event at Camaraderie Cellars. The guests were invited to vote for which play they wanted to see next, and “Taming” won by a landslide.
It’s “a perfect fit for our fifth year,” said Andersen, who’s giving the story a modern — still comedic — treatment in light of the #MeToo movement. Kate and Petruchio’s story sparked her love affair with Shakespeare back when she was an 11-year-old girl, and she’s been exploring the works ever since.
The subtext of “Taming,” Andersen believes, “is, as always, keep up the good fight! We shall overcome — with style, romance and a healthy dose of laughter.”
She and Peninsula College professor Janet Lucas will expand on this in their “Women and Shakespeare” dessert talk at the fine arts center July 12; details are to be announced.
Along with the performances, Saturday afternoon’s event will include prize drawings and opportunities to further bolster the 2019 Shakespeare in the Woods festival. Personalized shout-outs from the stage will be available to supporters, and attendees will have a chance to fund specific needs of the production.
This summer’s “Taming” will take place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 19 to Aug. 4 in the meadow of the Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park, where a new stage has been erected. Show time will be 6 p.m. and as ever, admission will be free to the public.
For more information, call the fine arts center at 360-457-3532 or stop by the center at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Its indoor gallery, which features the free “pARTicipation” show through June 30, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The 5-acre Webster’s Woods, with its walking trails and view of Port Angeles, is open — also free — from dawn till dusk 365 days a year.