WALLA WALLA -- What do a tragedy, a comedy and friendship have in common?
The Shakespeare Walla Walla organization will blend Macbeth (that would be the tragedy), A Comedy of Errors (the comedy, of course), and Swansong (a tale about Shakespeare, friendship and rivalry) into a 10-day festival of fun.
Macbeth opens the Shakespeare Walla Walla Summer Festival on Aug. 3 and runs through Aug. 7. For those unfamiliar with the tale, it's the angst-ridden journey of a good man seduced by witchcraft, ambition and a deviously persuasive wife.
Next up will be A Comedy of Errors from Aug. 10-14. Both plays will be held at the outdoor Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater, 755 Myra Road. This is one of Shakespeare's first plays, and it's packed with all sorts of slapstick, catchy humor and clever word play.
The story centers around two sets of identical twins who were separated at birth. When the four run into each other as young men, all sorts of chaos follows, mostly due to mistaken identities.
The third featured play, Swansong , will be an indoor production Aug. 4-6 and 9-14 at the Power House Theatre, 111 Sixth St., in downtown Walla Walla.
Swansong isn't one of Shakespeare's plays, but it involves him.
It was written by Patrick Page, a New York playwright, who was born in Spokane but grew up in Monmouth, Ore. He also earned his bachelor's degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla.
Page tells the fictitious tale of real life playwright Ben Jonson who had a rivalrous love/hate relationship with his friend William Shakespeare.
When Will dies, Jonson is asked to write a dedication for the first compilation of Shakespeare's plays to be published.
But jealousy causes Jonson to struggle with the request.
There's a bit of comedy threaded through the story, but as one critic with The Seattlest online publication explains, "It's really the same old story of one man with a bitter past, forever trapped in the shadow of his more talented and famous friend."
Swansong's director Stephanie Shine, from Seattle, said Page won't be able to attend the debut of his play at the festival because he is currently appearing on Broadway as the Green Goblin in Spiderman.
"But he is thrilled the play is being performed in Walla Walla," Shine said.
Shine describes the play as an intimate production performed by just three actors, which makes an indoor setting at the Power House Theatre a better venue.
"We also wanted to create a real festival, which to me means having more than one play happening at a time," she said. "We have that opportunity with the Power House now being open.
"We hope to eventually have a couple plays in rotating repertory performing in both theaters simulataneously during the festival. Imagine coming to Walla Walla for two days and being able to see four plays! It's very exciting to dream about the possibilities."
All shows will be performed by actors with the Seattle Shakespeare Company.
For a complete list of performances with dates and times and ticket prices, go to www.shakespearewallawalla.org or call 509-742-0739.
* Dori O'Neal: 509-582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org