2011 Season of Shakespeare in the Park

Cast (and puppets) in Actors' Theatre's 2011 production of Midsummer Night's Dream.(Photo: Shelby Williams)

The 30th season of Shakespeare in the Park opened at the end of May with revolution and fighting.

The Actors’ Theatre of Columbus, the volunteer troupe that hosts Shakespeare in the Park, aims to present free performances of Shakespeare and other classical works with themes that are relevant today, said John S. Kuhn, the Actor’s Theatre creative director.

This summer’s season started with The Scarlet Pimpernel, a play and novel by Baroness Orczy about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that was published in 1905.

Kuhn, who adapted and directed the play, said in his adaptation, the bulk of the text is Orczy’s, but he did add four fight scenes.

“If you’re gonna carry a sword onstage, you’re gonna have to use it,” Kuhn told WOSU theatre critic Joy Reilly. ”Everybody fights.”

Beth Josephsen, who plays the female protagonist, said she has a fight scene.

“The last fight scene has everyone, including all of the females in the cast, which is not outside the realm of possibility, because in the French Revolution, there were women who were fighting,” Josephsen said.

The play is seen through the eyes of Josephsen’s character, Lady Blakeney, who tries to discover the Scarlet Pimpernel’s identity.

Kuhn said a scarlet pimpernel is a small English flower that the hero uses as a symbol of his presence. Whenever the Scarlet Pimpernel rescues a member of the French aristocracy, he sends a note emblazoned with the red flower to the prosecutor in Paris. The group of people that help rescue the French aristocrats become known as the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

“Despite our perhaps modern cynicism, there’s something very appealing about someone who puts themselves out, sacrifices for a noble ideal,” Kuhn said. “It’s a romantic notion, but it’s very appealing still, in a world where we don’t often have opportunities to explore that.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel opened May 26 and will run through June 26. From June 30 – July 31, the Actors’ Theatre will perform Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From August 4 – Sept. 4, it will perform Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. All shows are presented in Schiller Park in German Village on Thursday – Sunday at 8 p.m.

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