Iowa City – After taking their summer festival indoors last year, Riverside Theatre is returning to the Festival Stage in Lower City Park to present two shows in repertory this month: Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre and The Fair Maid of the West by Thomas Heywood. Pericles opens June 17 and Fair Maid opens June 24. Flooding has canceled the annual Shakespeare festival in past years, which lead to the indoor festival last year. However, nothing compares to experiencing a show outdoors with the crickets chirping and sun setting in the distance. Audience feedback was overwhelming – they wanted a return to the park and Riverside was happy to acquiesce. However, they are prepared in case the rains come again.
“The city has been a great source of support as we’ve been troubleshooting and weighing our options,” Executive Director Jennifer Holan said. “We’re hoping that the community will be reassured by the proactive contingency plan that’s in the works, and excited about all that’s ahead for summer 2016.”
Both plays follow epic journeys and battles by their main characters. Pericles is the epic tale of the prince of Tyre, who finds himself first fighting for the hand of his wife, and then searching for his lost daughter at sea.
“It’s a lesser-known Shakespeare play, but it’s got great action and moments of beautiful emotion balanced with humor,” Artistic Director Sam Osheroff says. “It’s structured a bit like The Odyssey, in that our hero travels to many different lands, meeting a variety of friends and enemies. It gives us a lot of possibility for really inventive staging.”
The Fair Maid of the West is an adventure romp set during the Anglo-Spanish War, featuring plenty of comedy and mistaken identities as it follows the exploits of maiden Bess Bridges. Osheroff notes that, like Pericles, it features sword fights and naval battles, but “in a completely different style.”
“Also, it’s got a female hero who’s not just fair,” he says. “She also knows a thing or two about kicking butt.”
Check out this video for a look behind the scenes of sword fighting rehearsal. Fight choreographer Paul Kalina takes the actors through the challenging choreography.
For additional information, visit Riverside Theatre at their website.