Island Shakespeare Festival founder will be missed


I have heard that Rose Woods is leaving the Island Shakespeare Festival, the theater company she founded here seven years ago. On behalf of myself and the community, I want to express my sadness.

From the beginning, the Island Shakespeare Festival was something special. With very little budget, the productions were often wondrous. Having been part of a professional theater family since childhood, I felt fortunate to find the Island Shakespeare Festival on South Whidbey. It was at a different level entirely than most other theater offerings here. Community theater, of course, has its place, but Island Shakespeare from the start was at a much higher level and achieved professional quality. It could move its viewer as well as entertain.

In its first year on the grounds of the Whidbey Institute, I heard rumblings about how good it was. When i found out for myself, I discovered I could always be sure I would see a professional-level production. In particular, the plays directed by Rose herself were especially good. Also, I want to mention, the ritual of not charging for tickets, but of passing a basket through the audience, a tradition in Shakespeare’s day, that seemed especially fitting for this island, as an invitation to inclusion for everyone, not just those that could afford the price of a theater ticket.

Rose Woods is a talented, intelligent, passionate, experienced and creative theater person. She is also an organizational whiz. They don’t often come in one package. We are lucky she came to us. Her founding of the Island Shakespeare Festival was a tremendous gift to South Whidbey Island. I know the community joins me in appreciation for her gift and for the magic gems she created. To say we will miss her is putting it mildly.