With the weather finally taking a turn for the better, we thought we’d help get you started thinking about summer with a look at one of that season’s biggest Vancouver attractions, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
Since its rather humble beginnings in 1990, Bard on the Beach has welcomed more than a million people to its tents at Vanier Park and now engages some thirty actors each season as well as directors, designers, and technicians, all supported by more than 200 volunteers.
Performances are staged in the Festival’s trademark red and white open-ended tents on the waterfront of Vanier Park, providing a beautiful backdrop of the water, city and mountains to each of the plays.
New in 2011 is a purpose-built, 760-seat main stage tent with its larger seating capacity, redesigned stage and more comfortable seating for patrons, which can be welcome relief for some of Shakespeare’s longer plays. Another welcome addition this year is a reserved seating system designed to eliminate line-ups and the need to “claim” your seats before anyone else.
This year’s Festival opens June 2 with a performance of As You Like It in the main stage tent and will play in repertory with The Merchant of Venice when it opens June 15. In the smaller studio tent, the Festival concludes its three year The Kings History Cycle with Henry V: The Wars of the Roses which plays in repertory with Richard III.
Special performances and special events through the season, which lasts through September 24, include Bard-B-Q & Fireworks which includes a salmon barbecue, the annual Celebration of Lights fireworks display and, of course, one of the plays. The UBC Opera Ensemble and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra return with the Marriage of Figaro.
To help patrons get the most out of their Festival experience this year, Bard on the Beach is also hosting a pair of free lectures in April and May featuring the Festival’s Director of Education Mary Hartman and Simon Fraser University’s Dr. Paul Budra.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
2 June – 24 September 2011
Visit http://www.bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information.