If you’re looking for a COVID-19 safe haunted house experience with a literary bent, something wicked this way comes in the form of Pier One Theatre’s “Haunted Shakespeare: His Murdered, Ghosts, and Otherwordly Creatures.”
Done in collaboration with the Pratt Museum, the 40-minute live theater performance walks will take groups to 13 scenes along the forest trail behind the museum, featuring 27 actors doing bits from 10 different William Shakespeare plays. Three guides in the character of Sycorax and Prospero, both from “The Tempest,” and Puck from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will lead the groups along the trail.
“It makes it palatable for everybody,” said Sarah Brewer, who directed and selected the little plays. “… It’s like being able to fly around like a little butterfly to see all this Shakespeare. It’s very lovely.”
The walks begin every 15 minutes and will be held between 5-7 p.m. Friday, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, and 2-4 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are required — you can make one by calling Pier One at 907-226-2287. Tickets are $10. Attend the performance with people in your family or a safe “pod” or bubble, a group who restricts contacts to a family or a small number of people. Masks are required while on the walk, with clear markings to keep a safe distance from one another or the performers.
The actors also will be following COVID-19 safety protocols. Some actors are in the same pod while others are not, like one group of the three witches from “Macbeth.”
Those who are not part of the same social bubble will wear masks that are part of a costume. Other actors might speak from a 20-foot distance from each other and the visitors.
“What I like about having these small units, it’s easy to have these monologues with one or two actors and be safe,” Brewer said.
Pier One Executive Director Jennifer Norton said that with small groups keeping social distance, the performances can be demanding of the actors.
“It’s tough. We can’t often fit 100 people in an audience at a time. It’s a hard thing to juggle,” she said. “Our actors will be performing their bits seven times (a night) in order to accommodate as many as they can without staying in the cold long.”
At the same time, the actors have to be aware of keeping distance from each other or the visitors while also being aware of the terrain of the forest trail.
“It’s a really fun experience, I think,” Norton said. “It’s a unique acting challenge.”
The idea for “Haunted Shakespeare” came about after a trial run of theater in the wild for Mary Epperson Day in June, when Pier One actors performed skits on the Pratt’s forest trail. Following that success, Pier One staff decided to do Shakespeare. Norton said Pier One productions are often director driven when a person puts forth a proposal to direct a specific play.
Brewer took on the task that because of her love of Shakespeare. She moved to Homer in 2019 from Sitka with her husband, Reid Brewer, director of Kachemak Bay Campus. Sarah Brewer helped start Second Sunday Shakespeare, group readings of an entire Shakespeare play. That shifted to Zoom during the pandemic.
Pier One in the past has put on a Shakespeare play sometimes once a season or every other season. Productions have included a still talked-about performance of “Macbeth” where the Scottish characters dressed liked fishermen in Carhartt pants, rubber boots and plaid flannel shirts.
Beyond its endurance as literature, Shakespeare also remains relevant, Brewer said.
“Oh my God, that’s the beauty of Shakespeare,” she said. “Each time (we read) we find that context that makes it applicable to our time. That’s just the incredible beauty of Shakespeare to me.”
The varied themes of Shakespeare also make it easy to pull from plays for things like an October spooky Shakespeare, Brewer said.
“There is this wide breadth of work to pull from,” she said. “It makes it fun to distill down to these themes.”
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5-7 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17; 2-4 p.m. Oct. 18
Tickets are $10 by reservation. Call Pier One Theatre at 907-226-2287.
Performance walks begin every 15 minutes.
Sarah Brewer: Sycorax (guide)
Brian Duffy: Oberon
Owen Duffy: Puck (guide)
Anna Sansom: Witch 2
Marcia Kuszmau:, Witch 1
Kathy Anderson: Witch 3
Sunrise Sjoeberg: Lady Gertrude
Margaret (Maggie) Quarton: Witch 1
Nicole Mckinney: Titania
Curtis Jackson: Cinna the Poet
Ken Landfield: Glouchester/Richard III
Quinn Folkestad: Glouchester/King Lear
Talia Folkestad: Cornwall
Naomi Folkestad: Lavinia
Reese Cowan: Prospero (guide)
Carolyn Norton: Soothsayer
Peter Norton: Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
Stormy Ganton: Cleopatra
Jason Cameron: Cleo’s Clown
Karalee Bechtol: Witch 3
Ginger Bryant:Witch 2
Raiden Skorski-Odonnell: Hamlet
Dayus Geysbeek: Arthur
Judith Kramer: Lady Macbeth
Treijo Kiddos: scene bats and ravens
Bridget Doran: Ariel