Shakespeare in the Park


All the park’s a stage, but remember to bring bug spray. Animal Fire Theatre returns for its eighth summer production, The Winter’s Tale. Hipster thespians know it as one of the bard’s more obscure plays, memorable mostly for the greatest stage direction there ever was: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Detailing a story of dramatic betrayal and the power of young love, The Winter’s Tale will be directed by Animal Fire leader Brian Hatcher. “It’s a story that my husband Scott and I love very much,” said Hatcher. “The magic, tragedy, comedy, complex storyline, all of it, we just love. And after reading a few plays with our troupe, we all decided that this is the story best suited for the times.

Every single woman in the show is a powerful character. The men are idiots, playing homage to either ego or self-interest.” Animal Fire Theatre operates as an outdoor-theatre Shakespeare troupe, with productions of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Two Gentlemen of Verona and others under its belt. So far the troupe has performed in the Capitol Water Garden, Priest Point Park and Tumwater. Plans for a possible touring show are in the works, but for this year Animal Fire is returning to Priest Point. The landscape of the park serves as a natural amphitheater. “I’ve come to enjoy performing outside,” said actor Amanda Kemp. “There’s a freedom and an extra level of creativity that comes with park shows — and I’m not an outside person. To me the only drawback is the mosquitoes.”

“[Outdoor theatre] forces you as an actor and director to truly stretch yourself,” said Hatcher. “You have to create every piece of the show to fill your environment. You have to project even the most subtle bits out to the far reaches of your audience, with love, character and commitment. For our audience, it’s a matter of accessibility.”

Hatcher stated Animal Fire Theatre is committed to the Olympia community, bringing the highest quality of accessible theatre possible. “Oh, yeah,” he added, “a guy gets chased by a bear. That’s the real reason we’re doing this show.”

The Winter’s Tale

Priest Point Park,
2600 East Bay Dr. NE, Olympia

7 p.m. Friday – Sunday, July 13 – Aug. 5



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