Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lone Fir Cemetery, a fitting setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet

Portland Actors Ensemble presented Hamlet over several days at the historic cemetery, free. I saw it on Friday the 13th and enjoyed the entire evening, although it is Shakespeare's longest play. It is among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language and being in the cemetery on a superstitious date enhanced the experience.

Towards the end of the play, Hamlet confronts his mother.


Hamlet exhorts his father's ghost early on in the play.

According to the program handed out to the audience prior to the beginning of the play, the company, Portland Actors Ensemble, presented Hamlet in their 8th Annual Twilight Tragedie by William Shakespeare series. Around 450 people came on their bicycles, walked from nearby, rode mass transit, or parked their vehicles on the neighorhood streets surrounding the cemetery. They came with blankets and pillows or chairs of varying heights, with simple or extensive picnics suppers, ready to enjoy themselves prior to the beginning of the play, then settling down to be one of the quietest, most attentive audiences I've ever witnessed.

About the site of Friday night's performance, Lone Fir Cemetery, from Wikipedia: Lone Fir Cemetery in the southeast section of Portland is owned and maintained by Metro, a regional government entity. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first burial was in 1846 with the cemetery established in 1855. Lone Fir has over 25,000 burials spread over more than 30 acres.

And from Travel National Geographic in 2011: Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, ranked #9 out on their Top 10 list of cemeteries to visit around the world. "Roaming this natural landscape—one of the few cemeteries that allows the planting of a tree or garden to commemorate the dearly departed—is like turning the pages of a Portland history book. You’ll find graves of pioneers; Block 14, a memorial in the works for the Chinese immigrants who helped build the city; and crypts of captains of industry, like the imposing Gothic-style MacLeay family mausoleum."

Prior to the beginning of the play, I walked the paved road to visit a discreetly positioned port-a-potty. On the way, I took this photo of the MacLeay family mausoleum.


Paul in Powell River said...

Lucky you! - not my favourite Shakespeare, but any is better than none, which is what I get here. And such an appropriate setting!

Randy said...

Interesting venue for a play. Wonderful shots.

Jack said...

Hamlet in a cemetery? Someone thinks outside the box. Outside the coffin also, it appears.