To celebrate its 35-year history, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival this year will present a series of free, short, site-specific performances called “35 Famous Speeches in 35 Famous Places.” From this month to August, culminating in the SF Shakes' opening performances of Hamlet, the Festival’s professional actors and students will present free public performances of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches surrounded by iconic San Francisco landmarks.
The series was inspired by the Festival’s popular “Free Shakespeare in the Parklet” performances five years ago, in which Festival actors presented flash mob-style scenes for crowds in parklets across the City. This year’s “35 Famous Speeches in 35 Famous Places” will present the speeches in clusters each month, each cluster anchored by one of Hamlet’s seven soliloquies. Festival leaders hope the series will give audiences a chance to engage in shorter Shakespeare experiences, ideal for children, hearing words that they recognize in a setting that they love.
The first speech, Hamlet's "O that this too too solid flesh would melt," is set for Saturday, February 11, 11 a.m., at the Boardwalk at Crissy Field (with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge). It will be directed by Stephen Muterspaugh and performed by Davern Wright.
"These are the forgeries of jealousy" from A Midsummer Night's Dream is set for Sunday, February 12, 1 p.m., outside the Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park. Directed by Sharon Huff and performed by Sarah Shoshana David, it will also feature members of the Seven Ages Troupe homeschool program.
Romeo and Juliet's "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks" follows on Tuesday, February 14, 12:30 p.m., at the Yerba Buena Gardens, directed by Rebecca J. Ennals and performed by Carl Holvick and Lauren Spencer.
The festival will stage a kick-off event for the series on February 16 at 6 p.m., at the Presidio Officers’ Club, during which Artistic Director Rebecca J. Ennals and resident artists of SF Shakes will present a repeat performance of the first four speeches, announce plans for the rest of the series, and look back on 35 years of performing Shakespeare free in the parks. Audience members will be encouraged to suggest their favorite speeches and places and invited to take part in a group speech at the end of the evening.
To register for the kick-off event, click here.
February 9, 2017