Arts & Culture

‘The Tempest’ to be staged at Port Plaza, where Lady Washington can serve as backdrop

Courtesy photo

Shakespeare in parks is nothing new, but Thursday, South Sound theater-goers can check out something new: Shakespeare at the port.

“The Tempest,” a romance set on an enchanted island, runs through the end of the month at the Port Plaza, where a tall ship will be visible near the stage during the annual Harbor Days tugboat festival.

“The port is a perfect location for this show,” said director Kate Ayers, best known for her work with Olympia Family Theater. “The water is right there, and it’s about a storm on the water.”

The storm (created by magic) shipwrecks newcomers to an unnamed island ruled by the sorcerer Prospero (Brian Tyrrell) with help from the sprite Ariel (Silva Goetz) and monster Caliban (Drew Doyle). The newcomers are the first men, other than her father, that Prospero’s teen daughter Miranda (Kate Anders) has ever seen.

The play, produced by Oly Arts founder Ned Hayes, runs a compact 70 minutes and features many well-known local actors, most notably Tyrrell, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival alum who recently played the bard in Saint Martin’s University’s “Equivocation,” and fellow Equity actor John Serembe, who’ll play boisterous butler Stephano and recently played an irresistibly irascible Scrooge in Olympia Family Theater’s “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.”

During its closing weekend, “The Tempest” also will feature a non-human star — the tall ship Lady Washington, a replica of the first American ship to make landfall on the West Coast. The ship will be visible to the side of the stage.

It’s the first time that Harbor Days, happening Aug. 30-Sept. 1, has been part of a full-scale theatrical production, said Carol Riley, the festival’s executive director. Riley arranged for the Lady Washington, which will offer tours and sails during the festival, to be docked close to the plaza’s outdoor stage.

“It is also the first time the festival will be offering the community an after-hours experience,” she told The Olympian. “This is a perfect fit not just for the setting but also as a way to offer another experience and bring more people to our beautiful waterfront.”

‘The Tempest’

  • What: The waterfront production of the fantastical Shakespearean comedy set on an enchanted island will feature an offshore tall ship during the last two performances, which coincide with Harbor Days.
  • When: 8 p.m. Aug. 15-17, 22, 23 and 29-31, with a preview at 8 p.m. Aug. 14

  • Where: Port Plaza, 701 Columbia St. NW, Olympia
  • Admission: Free
  • More information: