10th annual Piknik Theatre Festival’s outdoor performances to kick off Friday | SteamboatToday.com
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10th annual Piknik Theatre Festival’s outdoor performances to kick off Friday

Mike Lion plays his part in the annual PiknIk Theatre 's presentation of a "Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare.
John F. Russell
2018 schedule: A Midsummer Night’s Dream  
• 
July 27: Steamboat Springs High School outdoor theater • July 29: Steamboat Springs High School outdoor theater • Aug. 2: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 4: Steamboat Springs High School outdoor theater • Aug. 8: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 10: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 12: Bud Werner Memorial Library 
Bee Man of Orn: 
 • July 28: Steamboat Spring High School outdoor theater • Aug. 1: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 3: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 5: Bud Werner Memorial Library • Aug. 9: Yampa River Botanic Park • Aug. 11: Steamboat Springs High School outdoor theater Start time of 6 p.m. for all performances.        

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When planning an outdoor theatre performance, thinking like an 8-year-old is key.

“If I was an 8-year old, would I get this?” said Stuart Handloff, founder and artistic director of the annual Piknik Theatre Festival performances. “If that happens, then I know we’re on the right track. But, if I have to listen for the words, I know we’re missing some visual elements that we should put in.”

At this summer’s 10th annual Piknik Theatre Festival, Shakespeare’s prose will transcend the script for a season of performances that kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs High School outdoor theater with a performance of “Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The performance will be repeated at 6 p.m. Sunday.

An original musical fairy tale comedy, “The Bee Man of Orn,” will take the outdoor theater stage at 6 p.m. Saturday. That production is directed by the Dacha Theatre ensemble from Seattle, Washington, who will be joining the returning professional actors from New York and Chicago.

The free, outdoor theater series runs through Aug. 12, with performances taking place at 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays at Yampa River Botanic Park, the high school outdoor stage or Bud Werner Memorial Library.

The annual Piknik Theatre Festival offers 13 free outdoor performances performed by local and visiting actors involved in the Great American Laughing Stock Company. GALSCO is a nonprofit summer repertory theater company with a mission to enhance and diversify performing arts in the area.

At rehearsals, games of tag, tug-of-war or not it are often played to get the actors to play with the text rather than just speak the words.

“We really want to make sure we can tell that story and create this picture of the scene that a young person could understand,” Handloff said. “This is done by using more body language and movement elements throughout the performance.

“Shakespeare’s text is so strong, you don’t really need to emphasize it, because it takes care of itself so it’s important to make the visual presentation and physical context of those words come to life,” Handloff said.

When a performance is created in a fun and engaging way, audiences still have the ability to understand what’s going on even if they don’t hear or understand every word.

“It allows you to feel how it affects you emotionally,” Handloff said. “It’s not important to understand each word or phrase, but how it’s told and the flow and how that’s transpiring through the actor’s prose and their bodies.

“What we want people to come away with is that they were able to have a new understanding and accessibility to pieces of text that they might typically shy away from,” Handloff said. “Shakespeare was never intended to be just an intellectual thing. It was meant to be a performance for the masses.”

When creating outdoor theatre, another key element is engaging the audience. Which is why Mike Lion, co-director of “The Bee Man of Orn,” explores four fairy tales that share similar themes of transformation.

“These themes resonate,” Lion said. “But rather than present one clear message. the message is, there’s options. And both options can play out in a positive way.”

Bring a picnic basket and a blanket for the free outdoor Shakespeare and musical comedy. Donations are accepted.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.


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