International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

No More Naked Shakespeare in Portland, Maine | August 6, 2009



Posted By: Dwight Merriam, Partner, Robinson & Cole, LLP

Got your attention with that title, right?  We’re in the dog days of August; we need to jazz it up a little.

“Dog days” comes from ancient times when Sirius, the Dog Star, rose around sunrise during mid-summer – it doesn’t anymore because the earth’s axis has shifted.  It is our brightest star, 26 times brighter than the sun and the fifth closest star, just 8.6 light years away. The name comes from the Greek word for searing or scorching. The Romans thought the star contributed to the summer heat. In my beloved Merriam-Webster I find the adjective “canicular” meaning “of or relating to the dog days.”  The word comes from the Latin canicularis, which is itself from Canicula (“Sirius), the diminutive of canis.  And, of course, where do we find Sirius in the heavens?  In the constellation Canis Major.  Then again, school children today might tell us it is satellite radio…

Anyway, enough astronomy.  Back to naked Shakespeare.

No one is actually playing Marcus Antonius in the buff bleating out:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 2, 74–77

It’s only called naked because they are not in costume.

The Portland zoning code prohibits entertainment in a bar if another one within 100 feet already has an entertainment license.  At the Wine Bar & Restaurant on Wharf Street, the Shakespeare Ensemble of Acorn Productions had been performing naked Shakespeare.  Here is their website.  Here is a review from January.

City officials said they didn’t know about it until March. I guess they don’t get out much. It seems that such reading of sonnets and plays is indeed entertainment in the view of the council, and without a license, the plain clothed thespians must be banished, like the good Duke Senior and his men in As You Like It.  Banished from the Wine Bar…



They are banished, but maybe not forever – on Monday the Council granted the renewal of the liquor license, but would not approve the entertainment license.  They voted unanimously to have the Public Safety Committee and the Planning Board take another look at the 100-foot separation requirement enacted just three years ago. 

So, there may be an Act II.

Leave a Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

About author

This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.







%d bloggers like this: