Free Shakespeare in the Park - 2021

Sponsor logos: Hitz Fndn & PlayOn

This summer’s 39th Free Shakespeare in the Park production features a four-episode production of Shakespeare’s epic tale, Pericles, Prince of Tyre in a new verse translation by playwright Ellen McLaughlin. The season begins with virtual performances of Episodes 1 through 3 on YouTube Live. Episode 4 ushers San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s return to in-person outdoor performances in Bay Area parks.

Be sure to get tickets to all four episodes. Find episode performance dates and summaries below.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean adventure set in the classical past. The play spans many years in the life of the hero and his family. The action ricochets all over the Eastern Mediterranean moving from one ancient city to the next with travel animated by peril and punctuated by near-death experiences, tempests, and pirate kidnapping. These elements make Pericles an ideal play to perform episodically in miniseries fashion with cliffhangers bringing you back to for each new installment. Episodes 1 through 3 will be performed virtually on YouTube Live. As each new episode is performed, the prior episode will be made available as an on-demand recording. Episode 4 will be performed outdoors and in-person throughout the Bay Area.

Episode 1: July 2 - July 11 on YouTube Live

“The sails are filled, the seas are met” begins in Antioch where a young Prince Pericles has arrived to woo the daughter of King Antiochus; but, when Pericles discovers Antiochus’s secret evil, he flees for his life returning home to Tyre where his loyal counselor urges him back to sea again to elude the wrath of Antiochus. Pericles anchors at Tarsus where he earns the love of the people for saving them from drought and famine. Pericles puts to sea again where his ship and crew are destroyed by storm. / Directed by Rebecca J. Ennals

Episode 2: July 16 - July 25 on YouTube Live

 “In you lives my hope” Pericles washes up on the shores of Pentapolis and is restored by fisherfolk who inform him of a nearby tournament for the hand of Thaisa, daughter of the local king Simonides. Pericles competes and wins the competition and the love of Thaisa. / Directed by Carla Pantoja

Episode 3: July 30 - August 8 on YouTube Live

 “The storm without, the storm within” The couple set out for Tyre, but Thaisa dies at sea while giving birth to a baby girl, Marina. Pericles survives the storm and sails to Tarsus where he entrusts his newborn to his old allies, the rulers of Tarsus before returning to the sea. In the court of Tarsus, Marina grows into a paragon of beauty and grace. Jealous for her biological daughter, Marina’s foster mother seeks her death, but before Marina can be assassinated she is kidnapped by pirates and carried off to sea. / Directed by Elizabeth Carter

Episode 4: outdoors, in-person park performances; title and synopsis follows dates and locations below (note: each show is approximately 90 minutes long and there is no intermission)

Redwood City: Grounds of Sequoia High School, 1201 Brewster (at Broadway)
- (Preview*) September 4, Saturday at 4:00 pm
- (Preview*) September 5, Sunday at 4:00 pm
- (Opening) September 6, Labor Day Monday at 4:00 pm
- September 11, Saturday at 4:00 pm
- September 12, Sunday at 4:00 pm
(*Preview performances allow the cast and crew to perfect the show before the 'opening'. All are welcome to attend these complete performances.)

San Fracisco: McLaren Park’s Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
- September 18, Saturday at 2:00 pm
- September 19, Sunday at 2:00 pm
- September 24, Friday at 2:00 pm
- September 25, Saturday at 2:00 pm
- September 26, Sunday at 2:00 pm

Cupertino: Memorial Park Amphitheater, Stevens Creek Blvd & Mary Ave
- October 2, Saturday at 4:00 pm
- October 3, Sunday at 4:00 pm
- October 8, Friday at 4:00 pm
- October 9, Saturday at 4:00 pm
- October 10, Sunday at 4:00 pm

 “This great miracle”  Marina is sold to a bawdy house in Mytilene. Marina’s virtue disrupts the disreputable business and so is removed to an honorable house on the island where she earns a living as a teacher. Wracked by grief, a despondent Pericles drifts into Mytilene after learning in Tarsus that his daughter is dead. Lysimachus, the local governor, summons Marina thinking her grace might comfort the depressed prince. Thus begins a mounting exchange between father and daughter that ends in joyous recognition when Marina utters the name of her dead mother, Thaisa. But the gods are not yet done with Pericles. Diana descends and orders him to visit her temple in Ephesus. There he must recount the tale of all his hardships in full, for in Ephesus, another reunion awaits. / Directed by Carla Pantoja

Directors of Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles Directors
L to R: Elizabeth Carter, Director of Episode 3; Carla Pantoja, Director of Vision and Director of Episodes 2 and 4; Carolina Morones, Pre-Show Director and Creator; Rebecca J. Ennals, Director of Episode 1

The responsibility for direction is shared by four directors. Carla Pantoja, who serves as the Director of Vision ensuring artistic continuity of the entire production, directs Episodes 2 and 4. Pantoja is a long-time associate of the Festival having served as actor, director, teaching artist, resident artist and fight director. She has worked with theaters throughout the Bay Area and with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In taking on this project Pantoja comments that “Pericles is an epic tale that holds so much of what this last year has been like. It is a journey that will forever change the traveler. When we take Pericles’ journey, we transform with him as he goes from a young cavalier suitor, to a man weighed down with grief, finally emerging to rediscover the family he longed for the entire time.”

The Festival’s Artistic Director Rebecca J Ennals directs Episode 1. Ennals directed the Festival’s musical version of As You Like It (2019). Episode 3 is directed by Elizabeth Carter, whose virtual King Lear received wide acclaim. Carter is the recent recipient of the Lloyd Richards New Futures Residency award at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The pre-show Creator/Director is Carolina Morones whose task is to thoughtfully guide the audience through this episodic journey, Morones will create and direct interactive pre-show material summarizing the story so far and engaging audience members in a game they can play from home.

Pericles was co-authored by Shakespeare and George Wilkins. The script for this production is a modern verse translation of the play by Ellen McLaughlin in partnership with PlayOn Shakespeare. Of the play, McLaughlin says, “This is Shakespeare at his most sublime, and it was a lovely challenge to meet him in the beauty of his language and try to do right by him. Once I got inside it, I was humbled and moved by it, even beyond what I anticipated.”

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