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LIVE THEATER by Alexa Chipman - Shakespeare by the River Festivalny

By Alexa Chipman

Hidden within the Foundry Wharf business park, (625 2nd St # 201, Petaluma) is a pristine riverside lawn that becomes the setting for Petaluma Shakespeare Company’s free plays during the summer. Bring a blanket or low folding chair to enjoy the rarely performedAll’s Well That Ends Well and creative celebration “Speechless Shakespeare” with dancing, comedy and exciting stage combat.

Chloe Bronzan is fascinated by the opportunity to directAll’s Well That Ends Well which allows a freedom of expression that can be hampered when working with well-known material. In the story, Helena impresses the king, who offers her the choice of marriage partner, a privilege usually reserved for men. When Bertram discovers he is required to wed Helena, he is horrified and attempts to rid himself of the obligation. She skillfully navigates the obstacles he sets for her, and as the title suggests, they discover mutual regard by the end.

“Shakespeare gives us a female protagonist who uses her intelligence and skill to change her lot in life…it is my belief that Helena and Bertram really are right for each other, but she is more ahead of him when it comes to seeing it…her character flaws are what makes her interesting.”

As an additional layer to the complexity and strength of Helena, she will be portrayed byRiz Gross, who is a “wheelchair-bound actor, which I think will be an interesting take on the story” as Bronzan explains. The moment when Bertram recognizes Helena as a beautiful, courageous woman and falls in love becomes an acknowledgment that romance is possible for everyone and the importance of looking past initial prejudices.

“Speechless Shakespeare” will present dancers such asKatie Baritell, Gregg Geoffroy and David McNaughton, a ballet choreographer and dancer, along with other non-verbal performances referencing nearly fifteen of Shakespeare’s plays.

They are currently raising funds to bring in a portable stage and wheelchair ramps.

Arrive early for All’s Well That Ends Well to enjoy a brief preview, or attend the full production. Director Jacinta Gorringe strives to “create an easy ‘Family’ version of Shakespeare…while entertaining the more advanced audience as well…inspired by his characters, plots, and themes.”

All’s Well That Ends Well ~ Aug. 23 - Sept. 1, Thu/Fri/Sat, 7p Speechless Shakespeare ~Aug. 26 - Sept. 2, Sun., 4p Petaluma Shakespeare Company ~

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