Volunteer Park. Free. 1 p.m. Sat., July 21, The Tempest; 4 p.m., Tartuffe; 7 p.m., Troilus & Cressida. 2 p.m. Sun., July 22, Tartuffe; 4 p.m., Troilus & Cressida; 7 p.m., The Tempest.
YOU CAN ENJOY a free show in Volunteer Park year round if you know where to look, but only in the summer does it happen in the open and have anything to do with theater. We'll leave discussion of the park's more gripping environmental romances for another time and move right into the business of more legitimate (well, let's just say more condoned) cheap entertainment.
If you're one of those stingy characters for whom 40 bucks to watch Eartha Kitt play the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella is unseemly, we've got news: You're not alone. Pray for sun, trudge up the Hill, plant yourself on the lawn, then thank the Powers That Be that Shakespeare and Moli貥 are dead and can't be nasty about residuals. For the first time, three different Seattle companies are combining to bring you six performances of classic theater at the low, low price of free.
Whether or not these time-honored tales will offer you anything revelatory remains to be seen, but they're being produced by solid companies, and beggars can't be choosers, tightwad. The play, as we've been told, is the thing, and troupes with budgets the size of our president's I.Q. know that better than anyone else—which is why the Bard and his clever li'l French ami always seem to pop up in situations like this.
So here, finally, is the scoop: GreenStage, Theater Schmeater, and Wooden O Theater—all sturdy outfits that have trod these boards individually for several summers now—are banding together for what they're calling the 2001 Seattle Outdoor Festival of Theater. You get two days of culture without having to iron your pants. Wooden O tackles the religious hypocrisy of Moli貥's biting Tartuffe, while GreenStage presents old Will's darkly fanciful The Tempest, and Schmeater stages his love-in-war-is-hell saga Troilus & Cressida. The productions will take place on the concrete stage in Volunteer Park, deep in that eternal sea of Gentlemen Who've Been Grievously Misinformed About How They Look in Speedos. We're also promised extras on the order of music and stage combat demonstrations, which we can only hope have absolutely no resemblance to anything found in a Renaissance fair.