Time to Get Away (Again): Late Summer Destinations in Dance & Theatre

You know who needs a break? You do. And this weekend is bursting with dance on Whidbey Island, puppets in Chimacum, and theatre in Port Townsend, with more to come later this month. Your destination stage is just a scenic daytrip away. 

List will be updated throughout the summer as needed.


Spotlight: Dance on Whidbey 

It’s just a short boat ride, but it feels a world away: people are actually friendly (gasp) on this island with a small-town feel. It also happens to have some world-class performance happening this summer, with dance taking the top honors this week.


August 19
StoneDance: Wander/Wonder: a sculptured dance happening @ Price Sculpture Forest  

Eva Stone has been making new dance works all over Seattle and the Eastside, creating for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s mainstage season (including 2019’s F O I L in the Locally Sourced triple-bill), leading up-and-coming choreographers and dancers in PNB’s Next Step cohort, and launching the Bellevue festival Chop Shop: Bodies of Work. This month, she’s doing things a little differently: heading out to the trees with a troupe of accomplished dancers, including some from her Next Step cohort, and creating dance installations for a second year throughout the trails of the expansive sculpture forest in Coupeville.

For Wander/Wonder, Stone’s original inspiration came from a serendipitous invitation she took to heart: an archway leading into the sculpture forest — which itself was a serendipitous discovery for her — that reads “Wander in the Wonder.” Wandering through the art and the trees, she remembers, “all I can see is DANCE.” From there flowed a project to bring dance in harmony with the art and nature, and to connect the community with dance: “an art form that I desperately love, and yet am well aware that most people don’t care about. … I am always looking for space and opportunity to make dance happen, and this place was magical.” Stone observes the unique benefit to the dancers as well: bringing them out of the usual studio confines to perform “in a living environment does something special to them. They change because they inhabit the material in a totally different way.”

Performances feature Leah Terada,Mary Sigward, Zsilas Michael Hughes, Julia James, Kaelyn Lefferts, Audrey Rachelle, Una Ludviksen, James Kirby Rogers, Kyrin Grey, Carol Davis, and Lorraine Constantine, with guest artist Talia Toni Marcus.

The show runs from 1-3pm. Admission is by donation ($20 suggested). Info here.


August 23
Parmida Ziaei & Helen Roundhill: The Radical Act of Dance 
@ Whidbey Island Center for the Arts 

If you’ve seen a lot of theatre in Seattle over the past several years, there’s a good chance you’ve “scene” a lot of Parmida Ziaei: she’s one of the top scenic designers around town, crafting compelling visual worlds on stages tiny and vast alike. But the many-talented Ziaei is also gaining traction as an arts leader (after a wildly successful short run with Macha Theatre Works, her Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble has co-productions lined up this season with ArtsWest and Seattle Public Theater), dance artist (showing works at Velocity Dance Center’s Firelight, among other stages), and artist-activist. It’s those pursuits she’ll bring to the forefront in Dance as Protest: Woman, Life, Freedom and Beyond on the Whidbey Island Center stage next week, speaking to the importance of dance movement as resistance movement. With context derived from historical and current political conflict, the discussion foregrounds Ziaei’s original dance work, Journey, which she’ll perform with Nakisa Dehpanah and Stephanie Su.

Joining Ziaei is Helen Roundhill, whose comedic acting was a hit in last year’s The Mystery of Irma Vep (Intiman Theatre). In A Night of Burlesque, Roundhill presents the evolution of burlesque as an art and an act of defiance.

Co-presented with Island Shakespeare Festival. Includes pay-what-you-choose admission options (available to all). Tickets here.



Theatre on Whidbey   


August 30
The Last Babushka (reading) @ Whidbey Island Center for the Arts   

Langley’s resident stage brings a variety of programming, including summer musical acts and happy hour bites at its intimate outdoor stage, and plays at its indoor mainstage. This one-night reading, which closes out its August Wednesdays at WICA (presented with Island Shakespeare Festival), visits the Chernobyl radioactive zone in a musical by playwright Amy Wheeler and Ukrainian-American composer Natalie Nowytski, weaving together traditional Ukrainian village music with contemporary folk-rock, acoustic and electric. Inspired by the documentary film, The Babushkas of Chernobyl. Admission is sliding scale (or pay-what-you-choose at the door); tickets and info here.


Through September 10
Island Shakespreare Festival  

Langley’s summer theatre festival this year presents a Shakespeare classic (Romeo & Juliet) alongside a modern Shakespeare-inspired work (Bold Stroke for a Husband) that brings strong female characters to the forefront. Schedule and reservations (or pay-what-you-choose at the door) here.



Peninsula Puppets, Theatre & More   

Find gorgeous views, plenty to do, and some great stages (both outdoor and indoor) way up the peninsula in Chimacum and Port Townsend.


August 18 & 19
String & Shadow Puppet Theater: Ship of Fools – A Giant Puppet Odyssey @ Finnriver Cidery 

The Olympia-based puppet theatre company, which stages works featuring giant puppets made of mixed media and upcycled materials, heads to Finnriver’s heralded cider orchard in Chimacum, just south of Port Townsend. Make sure to drop by the taproom for some cider and snacks on your way there or after the 6pm shows. Admission $15-$25 (sliding scale) at the door; show info here.


Through August 20
Saltfire Theatre: The Taming of the Shrew @ Fort Worden State Park   

This Port Townsend-based theatre company presents its second-ever show, with a new take on Shakespeare performed at the vast grounds of Fort Worden. Shows are at 6pm, with pay-what-you-choose tickets. Info and tickets here.


August 19 & 20
Key City Public Theatre: Sips & Scripts    

Port Townsend’s resident stage mixes drinks with new works in this series, featuring three food-centric short plays by Kat Agudo, Doug Given, and Judith Glass Collins. Shows are at 7pm, with pay-what-you-choose tickets. Info and tickets here.


August 25-27
Thing: Music & Arts & Other Things (festival) @ Fort Worden State Park   

A three-day all-ages music and arts festival, Thing brings together international musical acts, comedians, podcasts, food, community workshops, and more. Co-presented by Seattle Theatre Group. Tickets and info here.


Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of