Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Just when you thought that the curtain was beginning to fall on Aspen’s summer cultural activities, the Hudson Reed Ensemble kicks things up a notch once again this Wednesday evening as they debut their Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Richard III.”

This is the fifth year that Kent Hudson has staged a Shakespeare penned play in the Galena Plaza and they are great fun. Beyond that, in these days of the GEC (Global Economic Crises) they are a great value as well, as they are free to attend. Though I encourage all to participate generously when the proverbial hat is passed.

There will be six performances of the play with the first being Wednesday, Aug. 18, then on Friday and Saturday next, and finally Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27-29. The “curtain” as it were, goes up at 6 p.m. and if you make a 7:30 dinner reservation your timing will be perfect as the final encores and standing ovations should end by 7:15.

While the play is surely the thing, part of the fun of a Shakespeare in the Park performance is spending a summer’s eve outside with a group of like-minded arts lovers. The Galena Plaza, between the library and the jail, has spectacular views of Red Mountain and is the perfect stage for the actors. The Don Quixote statue sits regally adjacent to the park and brings drama to the proceedings. One hint: bring a sweater as the evening can chill quickly when the sun sets behind Shadow Mountain.

William Shakespeare wrote 38 plays in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Today, four centuries later, they still resonate with theatergoers who can relate to the universal human characteristics and foibles that the “bard of Avon” captures so viscerally. Though technology and the global condition has changed so dramatically, the themes of the plays still stand up.

“Richard III” is one Shakespeare’s earliest plays and it details the ascension to the throne of the murderous Richard. While there are comedic elements, it is considered a tragedy as opposed to some of his other work like “A Midsummer Nights Dream” and Much Ado About Nothing.”

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The lead for this performance will be the provenance of an Aspen-raised but world stage seasoned actor, David Ledingham. He helms a cast of nine local actors who come from throughout the valley and a pair of women in the chorus who have been rehearsing for the last month between raindrops and lightning strikes. For the first time ever, all of the actors will be wearing wireless microphones for their performances so every word should be easily heard.

Summer is indeed in its final days so be sure to take part before the advent of “the winter of our discontent,” to coin a phrase from the opening line.

It will be fun.

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