If you can’t get enough Shakespeare and haven’t had enough of Propero so far this summer, “The Tempest” is being offered twice this weekend by the Bay Street Theater, although not at its home base. On Saturday, a free outdoor reading will take place at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. On Sunday, the actors will meet guests and present another reading of the play on Shelter Island. Both performances start at 7.
“The Tempest” also continues at the Mulford Farm in East Hampton, tonight through Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. It is a production of the Hamptons Independent Theater Festival.
John Glover, who won a Tony Award for “Love, Valor, and Compassion” in 1995, will play Prospero in the Bay Street reading. Speaking from his Los Angeles house on Aug. 6, he said he was looking forward to the role even though it has its challenges.
“When you get to a certain age, people start mentioning Prospero to you,” he said. With some recent strong showings, such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2012 with Christopher Plummer in the lead and the Globe Theatre’s production last year, he said, he had “developed some ideas about this man, and thought, ‘Why not do a reading?’ ”
While Mr. Glover is a versatile actor who combines film and television work with his passion for the theater, he has been doing a lot of Shakespeare lately. He was featured in the recently closed Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado About Nothing‚” and was one of the witches in “Macbeth‚” at Lincoln Center this past winter.
Outdoor staging is a departure for Bay Street. It’s part of Scott Schwartz’s new vision for it as artistic director. The idea for doing it outdoors had a long gestation. Mr. Glover became acquainted with Mr. Schwartz a couple of years ago during a workshop of a new play at SPACE on Ryder Farm in Brewster, N.Y.
“We had a great time working together, and I’ve been telling directors I like that I’m interested in working on Prospero,” Mr. Glover said.
Those involved in the reading will have three days to put it together. Presenting a play as a reading isn’t far removed from sitting in a rehearsal hall with just the actors, he said. “It’s how we start.”
The challenge, Mr. Glover said, was to discern how much staging the play needs. “How much music do we need? What about the magic he makes with Ariel and all those sprites? We want to tell the story as much as possible, so we won’t be sitting in a semicircle with scripts in hand, although we will have our scripts in hand.”
For Mr. Glover, it is a story he wants to tell. While working on Macbeth with Anne-Marie Duff, who has a young son with James McAvoy, another actor, he learned that they explained the plays they act in to the boy by telling him they are stories. Since then, he has started thinking about acting in plays as a way for him to tell a story.
The story he wants to tell with “The Tempest” is about a man “betrayed by his brother and stuck on an island with his daughter and a sprite and a fish-like creature who has molested his daughter. He creates a storm to punish those who have wronged him and learns something about existing with people, and it changes him.” Recent versions he had seen didn’t seem to tell the story, he said. “I want to try with Scott to tell the story I think happened.”
This is a kind of homecoming for Mr. Glover, who was a friend of Sybil Christopher, one of Bay Street’s founders. He acted in Bay Street productions in the early 1990s, including “Oblivion Postponed” and an evening of one-act plays. In years of acting credits, the one with the most cult-like following was “Annie Hall,” in which he had the bit part of Jerry, the actor, who asks Annie to “touch my heart, with your foot” in a flashback. “People freak out when they find that out about me. It was a very important film to a lot of people.”
Those attending the free performance in the park have been invited to bring picnics and chairs; seating will also be available on the bleachers. No glassware is allowed. As for the performance on Shelter Island, it is part of a benefit, which will begin with a cocktails. Those interested in attending can get the details at Bay Street’s development office.