In case you hadn’t noticed, the big red-and-white tents are going up again at Vanier Park.
Bard on the Beach, Vancouver’s waterfront Shakespeare festival, kicks off its 25th season on June 11. Since 1990, the festival has been staging Shakespeare’s classics in dramatic, open-ended tents that look out on English Bay, attracting nearly 100,000 Shakespeare fans every year. And for its silver anniversary, Bard is bringing back some old favourites.
The 733-seat BMO Mainstage tent features two of Shakespeare’s best known works. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – first presented during Bard’s inaugural season – is back. The magical comedy offers up a familiar Shakespearian mix of meddling fairies, star-crossed lovers, royal engagements and general confusion, all set in a world of sprites, elves and nymphs. Alternating on the Mainstage is another fantastical classic, The Tempest. Exiled on an enchanted island, the Duke of Milan conjures up a storm to shipwreck some of his old enemies. Magic, secret alliances, murder and romance ensue in a world where the real and supernatural collide. The Tempest also features an original score for string quartet, on stage at every performance.
Meanwhile, more envelope-pushing productions are on offer in the smaller Studio Stage tent. Shakespeare’s Cymbeline – the story of love and betrayal centred around Imogen, the fiery daughter of King Cymbeline – is performed by a cast of just six actors. Playing on alternate nights is Equivocation, an original 2009 farcical production in which Shakespeare himself is a character, tasked by his government with writing the definitive history of a national crisis.
Of course, half the fun of Bard on the Beach is what happens off-stage. The two tents – which are equipped with state-of-the-art, stadium-style seating – form the heart of Bard Village, a mini Thespian complex on the edge of False Creek. There’s an even-popular bar that gets long lines before curtain and during intermission and even a Bard Boutique with Shakespeare-themed books, scripts and clothing.
The 25th season of Bard on the Beach runs June 11 to Sept. 20. Performances are Tuesday-Sunday with all evening performances starting at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are presented on selected weekends and weekdays. Tickets (adults) are $47 (evenings) and $33-$35 (previews, matinees and long weekend evenings), with a $27 youth rate (6-25 years old). Early bird regular adult tickets are priced at $43 to May 30.
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Waterfront Shakespeare in Vancouver is back http://www.insidevancouver.ca/?p=45157 via @RemyScalza and @myVancouver
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