Lauren Weedman in Bust
(Photo © Chris Bennion)
Lauren Weedman in Bust
(Photo © Chris Bennion)
Confronted with weeks of unaccustomed sunshine, temperatures hovering in the mid-70s, and languid summer evenings that stretch until 10pm, Seattleites could be forgiven for abandoning the theater scene in July. But theater fans maintain a remarkable appetite for substantial fare throughout the warm summer months.

The Empty Space Theatre, which almost succumbed to financial pressures last year, resurfaces on the campus of Seattle University with a new one-woman show by powerhouse performer Lauren Weedman. Bust (Lee Center for the Arts, through August 5) draws on Weedman's experiences as a volunteer in a Los Angeles prison for women. Weedman's relationship with Empty Space stretches back many years to her days as a young intern there, and she's wowed audiences with a remarkable string of hits over the years.

The Hansberry Project, a new company that focuses on African-American life, history, and culture, serves up its inaugural production, Alice Childress' Wine in the Wilderness (ACT, through July 9). Theater Schmeater premieres Kuwait (through July 22), a drama about an embedded reporter who steps off the trail in search of her own truth. Devotees of Schmeater's locally famous late-night productions will want to catch Crescendo Falls, Episode 3 (through July 22), a soap opera parody running at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The company also sends Robin Hood (July 15-August 26) romping through Volunteer Park.

Around the corner on Capitol Hill, Repertory Actors Theatre has John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation (July 6-30). The trend toward serious-minded productions also continues with Elizabeth Heffron's Mitzi's Abortion (July 27-August 30), which was the first recipient of the ACT New Play Award in 2003.

Sun-seekers can choose from a wealth of free outdoor productions opening this month. The reliable Wooden O Productions rotates the Bard's As You Like It (July 6-30) and Hamlet (July 7-August 2) in various outdoor venues around the region, including Mercer Island's spiffy Luther Burbank Park. Meanwhile, Greenstage offers Henry VI (July 27-August 27) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (July 14-August 26), touring to Volunteer Park and many others. Paper Trail Productions gets in on the act with Romeo & Juliet (through July 9), situated under the unblinking gaze of the Fremont Troll.

Shakespeare is in heavy rotation indoors as well. The Intiman Theater's production of Richard III (through July 15) is directed by Tony award nominee Bartlett Sher. At the Bathhouse Theatre, Travelling Buddha puts a 1950s America spin on Julius Caesar (through July 9).

On the lighter side, the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society presents the crowd-pleasing The Pirates of Penzance (July 14-29) at the Bagley Wright Theatre, while those with more down-home tastes will want to check out Taproot Theatre Company's Smoke on the Mountain (July 12-August 12), a bluegrass gospel musical.