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Tragic 'Richard III' dark, funny

Bag&Baggage stages work by the Bard in Hillsboro's downtown plaza


COURTESY PHOTO: CASEY CAMPBELL PHOTOGRAPHY - Peter Schuyler plays the comedic Richard III in Bag&Baggage Productions version of the Shakespearean play, opening Wednesday, July 22.Nothing says summer like watching a little theater outside on a warm evening with one of Shakespeare’s most famous villains.

Opening day for Bag&Baggage Productions’ “Richard III” is Wednesday, July 22, in downtown Hillsboro’s Civic Center Plaza.

Traditionally a historical tragedy and one of the Bard’s longest plays, Bag&Baggage Artistic Director Scott Palmer’s adaption of “Richard III” is unlike any production of the play put on in the county before. Palmer is giving the audience the chance to see the world through Richard’s wicked eyes. The result is a look at characters that is both dark and decidedly comedic.

The audience will also see Richard as he sees himself, at least initially. Also — unlike more traditional depictions of the play’s namesake character — this Richard will not carry the physical deformities written into the original work.

Despite his murderous, treacherous ways, Palmer calls Richard one of Shakespeare’s most likeable scoundrels.

Richard is well crafted, well rounded, nuanced and complete, Palmer said. “He’s the villain people love to hate. He’s funny, witty and smart.”

Bag&Baggage resident actor Peter Schuyler — who Palmer describes as incredibly funny with a regal quality — will play Richard. It’ll be a chance for him to release his comedic side, Palmer said, as he’s traditionally played more somber roles such as Lenny in “Of Mice and Men” and John Proctor in “The Crucible.”

“When Scott asked me to play Richard, I jumped at the chance,” Schuyler said. “To shed the hunchback, drop the crutches and play the character as he sees himself is a once in a lifetime opportunity and really is something I could only do at Bag&Baggage.”

The play will include a lot of physical comedy and slapstick humor, but in the end, justice prevails along with a moral to the story traditional “Richard III” lovers will appreciate.

The show will run Wednesday through Saturday through Aug. 1. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza is located at 150 E. Main St. There is no seating provided, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own.

Money matters

“A Feast for Oberon,” Bag&Baggage Productions’ fundraiser for its PASSPORT program, raised more than $60,000 last Saturday, July 11.

PASSPORT funds internships for high school students and free theater tickets to Bag&Baggage shows for high school students in Washington, Yamhill, Tillamook and Columbia counties.

The annual event was held at Oakwood Gardens in Hillsboro. This year’s gala was the production company’s most successful fundraiser yet.

Bag&Baggage plans to hire one of its resident directors, Cassie Greer, for a part-time, year-round position coordinating outreach for the program in hopes of offering more internships and learning opportunities to more students.

Each year at the gala, the opportunity to choose next summer’s outdoor play goes to one lucky attendee. Pacific University professor Karl Citek chose Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.”

Bag&Baggage has also launched its capital campaign in attempts to raise $1.2 million to renovate the old Wells Fargo Bank Building on Main Street in downtown Hillsboro into a theater.

The nonprofit theater troupe has already raised $360,000. Visit bnbevolution.org for more information about donor opportunities.