When I walked to Schiller Park on Sunday during one of the dry interludes between the spring rainstorms, work was underway at the amphitheater. Part of the deck of a pirate ship was being constructed, with the wheel and yardarm yet to be added. Come Thursday we’ll hear the clash of steel echoing across the parkland as the new season of Actors’ Theatre of Columbus opens with the rollicking pirate swashbuckler Captain Blood.
Actors’ Theatre is one of those institutions that helps to enrich the culture in our fair city. For decades the group has put on performances of Shakespeare and other plays during the summer at Schiller Park. The performances are open to all, with a blanket section down front and a lawn chair section behind, and guests are encouraged to pack a picnic dinner and bring the beverage of their choice to enjoy during the shows. Schiller Park, a great older park with mature trees, is a beautiful setting for outdoor theater on a summer evening.
Amazingly, all of the performances are on a “pay what you will” basis, with audience members putting their contributions into a basket at intermission — although the Actors’ Theatre guys I met on Sunday noted that this year the group will supplement the contributions by offering some reserved chairs and blankets. The FAQ section of the Actors’ Theatre website notes that each performance costs the group precisely $10.24 per audience member — so everyone should aim to exceed that amount.
This season begins with Captain Blood, running from May 21 through June 21, followed by William Shakespeare’s epic Richard III from June 25 through August 2, then Moliere’s The Miser from August 6 through September 6. All of those performances run from Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. The season ends with All The Great Books (Abridged), which will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday September 11 through 20 at the Bicentennial Stage at the Columbus Commons. Kish and I can’t wait.