Longleaf Lumber again has the privilege of participating in a creative reclaimed wood endeavor with the Apollinaire Theatre Company. This time, the magic is happening in Chelsea’s PORT Park for the 2018 summer production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At the park, massive reclaimed Douglas fir beams from the Hingham Shipyard have been incorporated into the Chelsea River’s iconic road salt storage piles, creating an imposing and unique theatrical set.
Originally felled in West Coast forests, these Douglas fir timbers were shipped east where they were used to construct the frame of a large World War II-era building at the Hingham Shipyard. When the building was razed to make way for a residential development, the fir beams were carefully salvaged, shipped to our mill in Berwick, ME, and prepared for their recycling and re-use. Eventually, the timbers found their way back to the greater Boston area – this time in Chelsea.
Eastern Salt Company, a Lowell, MA, distributor of road salt, has stored towering piles of salt on the Chelsea waterfront for years. After traveling thousands of miles by boat from South American mines, the salt is distributed to communities throughout New England. In 2014, Eastern Salt committed part of their Chelsea facility to public use, opening PORT Park in collaboration with Landing Studios, who incorporated physical elements of the pre-existing oil farm (skeletons of oil tanks, a tugboat wheelhouse, and foam fire-fighting cannons) into the design. Today, visitors to PORT Park enjoy an amphitheater, playground, basketball courts, and running track, as well as views of Boston Harbor and the Tobin Bridge.
The Chelsea-based Apollinaire Theatre Company, headed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques, has produced an outdoor summer production in Boston for the past 14 years. This year, Eastern Salt allowed Danielle to stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream at PORT Park and to incorporate the set into their huge salt piles. The show, which runs through July 29th, is free and open to the public.
The set, which was constructed on-site by Longleaf co-founder and artist Marc Poirier, is a massive crib structure that stands over five feet tall and 60 feet across. The stage reflects nearby marine architecture and takes aesthetic cues from the numerous piers and abutments of Boston Harbor. After completing the structure with the assistance of talented Eastern Salt equipment operators, the crib was filled to overflowing with salt.
Known primarily for its comedy, magic, and romance, Midsummer also has a disturbing, dark side. The play begins in the court of Athens, with an engagement forged in war and a father threatening death to his daughter. The Apollinaire stages these scenes in the PORT Park’s lush green waterfront amphitheater. Later on in the play, more foreboding scenes occur in a forest destroyed by winds and floods produced during a fairy feud. For these performances, the audience moves with the actors to the cribwork of reclaimed timbers, which represents the decimated forest. The salt in the background helps convey a feeling of lifelessness and a shattered natural environment.
At the end of the production’s run, when the fairies return to their forest, the timbers will be shipped back to Longleaf’s yard, the salt will be spread on the highways, children will return to the park, and the magic will be over…until next year!
DETAILS FOR A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Performances: July 11-29, 2018 • Wed.-Sun. • 7:30 PM • Free
PORT Park: 99 Marginal Street, on the Chelsea Waterfront, Chelsea, MA
Information/Directions: www.apollinairetheatre.com or (617) 887-2336.
Other projects Longleaf Lumber has completed with the Apollinaire Theatre include the set for their Everyman production, which also used reclaimed Douglas fir, and a live oak bartop for their BlackBox space.