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Ninepipe Arts Group brings Shakespeare to Charlo

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CHARLO – Shakespeare’s dialect can be a bit difficult for some folks to understand, but that didn’t stop them from spreading out blankets and setting up chairs in Palmer Park to hear a performance of “As You Like It.” 

Ahni Umphrey, 10, said she “kinda” understood the 400-year-old play. The singing and boxing were her favorite parts. But words like hither, prithee and herein left a few people scratching their heads as in “Herein I see thou lov’st me not with the full weight that I love thee,” said the character Celia.

Bernadette Bigley explained that the words get easier to understand after listening to a few plays. This is her second year attending a Montana Shakespeare in the Parks production. Moving to the area from New York, she’s had the opportunity to experience many plays, giving her some authority on the subject.

“The actors did a wonderful job. I do like Phebe and her suitor,” she said of the characters. “The play was wonderful.”

Actor Casey Hoekstra, who played Oliver, spent a lot of time memorizing the lines before he set out on the summer tour of the state with fellow actors. He explained that some of the words are different and the lines are longer in comparison to modern plays, and practice was the only trick to remembering them. 

“We work on it for a long time before we perform,” he said. “We do two plays 75 times over the summer.”

Large willow trees with draping branches, lush green grass and even a small waterfall surround the portable stage brought in by the players.

“This is a gorgeous location,” Hoekstra said. “The characters run away to the forest so this is a perfect location for this play.”

It took work to bring the play to Charlo including the portable toilets, parking attendants and beverage bar. Ninepipe Arts Group organized the event and nudged sponsors for funding. The non-profit group works to bring art and culture to the area.

“We had so many little donations that it feels like everyone had something to do with this,” said October Moynahan, Arts Group treasurer. 

This is the 20th year for the event.

“This is an important Montana tradition, and this is the most beautiful spot in all of Montana for this play,” said Caroline Myhre, Arts Group member. “We need people to continue donating to keep this going.”


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