Original Practice Shakespeare Festival to take the virtual stage

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It's as true to the real act as they can make it

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Live outdoor theater is one of many things missing this summer. Portland-area parks are accustomed to seeing live performances — and now some of those performances have gone online.      

With the sharing of Shakespeare in parks deemed too risky to public health, the actors are performing cutting edge live performances online for this 12th season of the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival.

It’s as true to the real act as they can make it. The online presentation of it is the workaround organizers of the theater group have come up with to put on its summer series of live performances. You can now enjoy this company’s Shakespeare work from the comfort of your own mobile device. 

“There were so many things to discover about how to make this work for our audience who at this point was just so starved for live performance,” said Artistic Director Jennifer Lanier.

Lanier said transmitting their work on zoom has involved lots of experimentation. She illustrated the intimate one-on-one secret with the audience that’s now possible, along with other ways characters interact in the Brady Bunch-like series of boxes they’re all playing from.

They’ve added Romeo and Juliet this year, which is familiar — but fraught with possibilities of going awry.

“We thought ‘How is a tragedy going to translate on this? Are we going to run into problems? Are we going to be inadvertently funny when we don’t want to be?’ and it turned out it worked so well, that having this closeness meant that our audience had a proximity they’ve never had before,” Lanier explained.

Actor Tish Maskell agreed, saying, “It’s been really amazing to me how invested you can still get.”

This new season of performing some of the classics is in ways you’ve never seen it before. OPS Fest is steamed via Facebook and Youtube on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, each night starting at 6 p.m. No purchase is necessary.

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