The Twin Cities has a renowned theater scene, but we’ve come to the warm season, finally, and sometimes a person just wants to spread a blanket on the grass and feel the breeze. If a play should break out, so much the better.
That’s the loose premise of the Cromulent Shakespeare Company, which is putting on a series of casual (but scheduled) performances of “The Tempest” this month in parks in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Richfield and Prior Lake. Two of the locations have a bandshell, but generally the company will find a spot in the park that feels right and plant a flag so people can find it.
“Cromulent”? It’s a term coined when writers of “The Simpsons” were tasked in a 1996 episode with including two words that merely sounded real. “Embiggen” has since made the dictionary. “Cromulent” has yet to. It means ironically legitimate, which it is, so it should.
The theater company itself aims to “embiggen the Bard,” bringing Shakespeare’s work “to audiences that might not otherwise seek it.” It performs outdoors (in safe weather conditions) throughout June, when the mosquitoes have yet to work up a full offensive.
“The Tempest” originally was listed as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, which means it’s full of meaning for those who want it. One of the themes is the nature of power — who should wield it, on what basis, with what restraint.
Peppered through the play are lines you’ll know regardless of your overall familiarity. Hear them here in their original contexts.
If you attend, be prepared for a mixed experience. There may be airplanes, motorcycles, the aforementioned breeze — you won’t catch every word. It ain’t the Guthrie. But it is Shakespeare.
For a schedule of remaining opportunities, see tinyurl.com/cromulent-shakespeare. Performances are free but donations are cheerfully accepted.
By the way, Shakespeare made up a lot of words.