Staff photo/Heather Spaulding

Shades of “Hamlet” found in Island Stage Left’s “Humble Boy”

The county housing crunch’s long arms have reached the arts. A lack of homes for additional actors, eliminating any Shakespeare play for Island Stage Left in 2017. Co-founder Helen Machin-Smith was forced to choose a play with only a handful of actors when she discovered “Humble Boy.”

“I only have four off-island actors with ‘Humble Boy,’ whereas, in a Shakespeare play, I need closer to seven or eight,” Machin-Smith explained.

The play opened May 25 and runs Thursday through Sunday at the Mary Boe building at the fairgrounds until June 18. Performances begin at 8 p.m., except Sundays, when the shows open at 4 p.m. “Humble Boy” will pick back up again June 23 through July 9, at 1062 Wold Road. Shows run Friday through Sunday at 8:15 p.m.

“Humble Boy,” written by Charlotte Jones, is the story of an astrophysicist, Felix Humble, who returns home after his father, a beekeeper, passes away. Taking cues from “Hamlet,” Felix returns to find his mother is already getting engaged to the man she had an affair with.

Throughout the performance, “Humble Boy” poses questions large and small, ranging from the universe, to family dynamics.

“It does come up with an answer,” Machin-Smith said. “It will be interesting to see what people think that answer is. I’ll give you a hint, it is not provable by mathematical equations or scientific experiments.”

Machin-Smith explained that she chose the play because it was funny, sad and multilayered. It also met the parameters she needed to work with. Those parameters were one, something that could be played indoors and outdoors, so people could watch at the popular Wold Road location, and two, having a smaller cast.

“I loved the play when I read it,” Machin-Smith said. “It’s both realistic and then magical. Just let the play wash over you.”

According to Machin-Smith housing has become a big issue for many nonprofits who rely on summer help, not just commercial businesses.

“We can not do a Shakespeare play without finding more housing,” she said, noting that Stage Left had lost five places last year and the Spring Street dorms were already filled up with summer students. Not wanting to impose on anyone by creating a situation where a host family would have to have to endure roommates for over two months, they are looking for either one house with several bedrooms, or a series of studios or guest cabins, allowing people their privacy. “We need housing for the off-season shows too,” Machin-Smith added. Anyone who has a suitable space that they would be willing to house an actor in, email Island Stage Left at or call 360-378-5649.

Machin-Smith also gave a big thank you to those who responded to their fundraising campaign. They do not have a final tally yet, as to the amount raised, donations are still coming in.

“Island Stage Left lives to fight another day!” she said.

For more information about Island Stage Left, visit


Staff photo/Heather Spaulding