Founded by Damond Morris, the Western Washington Shakespeare Festival began performing at Mount Vernon’s Edgewater Park in 2001. Its motto: “Outdoors and under the stars, the way it was meant to be.”
Indeed, it can be magical to create and experience Shakespeare outdoors. The Bard set numerous scenes from several of his plays in private gardens, wooded thickets, and forest glades. These were places of unpredictable possibilities and the haunt of fairies. However, magic and reality can often collide for an itinerant theater company. Being seasonal tenants entailed essentially building a theater from scratch each summer, requiring the rental and installation of lighting and sound equipment and demanding hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, much of which came from the actors and crew, who simultaneously committed enormous time and energy to the individual productions.
In 2008, Shakespeare Northwest shifted its main stage productions to local indoor venues such as the Phillip Tarro Theater and McIntyre Hall at Skagit Valley College. The vagabond company continued to bring high-quality productions and Shakespeare’s stories to audiences and continued to long for and seek a home.
In the fall of 2009, representatives of Shakespeare Northwest were guided into an overgrown and secluded rock-walled space on the property of the Rexville Grange. The old, former quarry had once provided material for dikes along the Skagit River but had long been reclaimed by nature. Despite the brambles, tall grasses, and the soggy, rock-strewn ground, its soaring rock walls surrounded by trees immediately sang of fantastic potential. Several months of systematic hacking, pruning, raking, leveling, and clearing only reinforced that impression.
The Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre is now a one-of-a-kind outdoor performance venue!
Featured Website: Shakespeare Northwest