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Kick the Bucket: A visit to Clark Island for Shakespeare in the park

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 1:07 p.m. CDT
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(Instagramed photo by Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)
Shakespeare on Clark is currently presenting the "Comedy of Errors" on Clark Island in Batavia.
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(Instagramed photo by Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)
A view of Shakespeare on Clark at dusk.
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(Instagramed photo by Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)
A bridge leads from the Clark Island parking lot to the island.
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(Instagramed photo by Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)
A view of Clark Island from the Wilson Street Bridge in Batavia
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(Instagramed photo by Kara Silva - ksilva@shawmedia.com)
A view of Shakespeare on Clark at dusk.

1. Clark Island

BATAVIA – Looking through a pair of aviators to combat the blinding rays of the setting sun, I see a handful of costumed actors reciting Shakespearean lines from "Comedy of Errors," one of the earliest plays written by the 16th Century English dramatist. The flowing Fox River mere steps behind my lawn chair emits a gentle hum as it encircles Clark Island and continues on its way. As a first-timer to the island, Shakespeare on Clark's circus-like set made me feel like I had entered a private encampment cut off from the rest of the world.

As a near two-year resident of St. Charles, I had only heard about Batavia's Clark Island, but never had a reason to visit. Shakespeare on Clark finally gave me a reason.

So, with blankets, lawn chairs and a picnic basket in tow, my husband and I hunkered down in the back row as Shakespeare's farcical tale of mistaken identity was brought to life. The landscape created a perfect setting for the theatrics afoot. The river resembled a moat and the island, an arena for Renaissance-inspired antics.

Throughout the show, the characters intermingled with audience members by using guests as props, sitting on laps, stealing snacks and snagging a swill of a mysterious crimson liquid from a man in the front row.

For the past 13 years, various Shakespearean plays, such as "The Taming of the Shrew," "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Romeo and Juliet" have all been performed on the Clark Island stage. This summer's "The Comedy of Errors" takes place at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays. The show runs through Aug. 11.

If zombies are more your speed, the world premiere of the "Twelfth Night of the Living Dead," also will be performed beginning Aug. 1. "The Twelfth Night of the Living Dead," which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursdays and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 11, combines Shakespearean text with others to present the story of what happens when a zombie apocalypse plagues a production.

To bypass Shakespeare altogether – in its third year – Batavia MainStreet will host Cocktails on Clark, a tasting event on Clark Island dedicated to showcasing local restaurants. And, of course, there will be cocktails as well as live musical entertainment and an auction. As of now, the event is scheduled for May 17. Plenty of time to plan ahead.

Overall, Shakespeare in the park served as a unique way to spend an hour on the peacefully subdued Clark Island, which is the first of many more bucket list conquests to come in Kane County.
• Kara Silva is a writer, photographer and the features editor for the Kane County Chronicle. She tackles coverage of the arts, entertainment and dining scene. As a two-year Kane County resident, she is exploring the place she calls home, one bucket-list conquest at a time.

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If you go

Quick Tip: Unless you have a firm grasp of Shakespearean verbiage and the style with which he used to write, I recommend brushing up on your knowledge of the story or plot before attending.

Fun Fact:Clark Island was a Works Progress administration project dating back to the 1930s.

Where: Clark Island parking is located off of Route 25 in downtown Batavia.

Website: www.shakespeareonclark.com

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