The St. Tammany Commission of Cultural Affairs, along with Mandeville-based 30 by Ninety Theatre, will present “Shake and Stroll — Shakespeare in the Park” on July 11-12 at Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell.
The inaugural event will consist of four different vignettes from some of Shakespeare’s most famous works: “Macbeth,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Each presentation will be staged outdoors and take approximately 10 minutes. Between the vignettes, visitors will take short walks along the park’s scenic nature trails, with each walk lasting about five minutes.
Groups of 20 to 30 people are expected to begin the Shake and Stroll at 5:30 p.m. each day, with the last tour expected to begin at 6:30 p.m. The entire tour will last approximately one hour. The event is free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to bring snacks and cold beverages and to wear comfortable shoes for walking the non-paved trails.
“This is classical theater in a nontraditional setting,” said Jennifer Bushnell, spokeswoman with the St. Tammany Parish government. “It’s our first attempt at something like this, so I’m not particularly sure what to expect as far as (public) response. But it’s an experiment and it’s an interesting format.”
Shake and Stroll tours will leave the Camp Salmen pavilion every 15 minutes; giving the actors enough time to perform their portion of the plays, while allowing the next group to make the short trek along the nature trails to the next theater stop. The final scene will be played out at the park’s amphitheater on the banks of Bayou Liberty.
Jason Leader, founder and marketing director of 30 by Ninety Theatre, said 25 actors will take part in the production as well as serve as tour guides. The thespians of all ages hail from across St. Tammany Parish, as well as a handful coming from Mississippi, he said. The stage selections were set by the company’s artistic director, Adolfo Rodriguez.
Leader said rehearsals have been ongoing and he expects smooth performances from the actors.
“It’s been pretty easy (getting prepared),” he said. “Each group can work separately in their own space. The difficult part will be being outdoors in the woods. How do voices carry or echo? It also has to be timely so there is enough space between scenes so groups don’t stack up on one another.”
Then, there is the July heat with which to contend.
“We thought we would go all out with the costumes,” Leader said. “But it’s going to be hot. So we will be wearing period pieces, but it will be much lighter fare.”
Jackie Schneider, of the Commission on Cultural Affairs, said she expects a good turnout for Shake and Stroll.
“Our vision is to bring all kinds of art to St. Tammany Parish, especially to our families,” she said. “The scenery is beautiful at Camp Salmen and it’s a short enough event that children and adults should be interested. … The New Orleans Museum of Art did something very similar and it was successful. We think this will be, too.”
Camp Salmen Nature Park is located at 35122 Parish Parkway in Slidell, just off U.S. 190 and just east of Northshore Square Mall. No pets or alcoholic beverages are allowed on site.