It wouldn’t be summer in Vancouver without Bard on the Beach

This season Vanier Park will be home to four Shakespeare favourites and a contemporary spinoff

(Photo courtesy of Bard on the Beach)

By: Tessa Perkins

There’s nothing quite like taking in a classic Shakespeare play while enjoying the beautiful scenery that is visible through the back of the Bard tent. The festival is a magical combination made of thrilling theatre, stunning location, and unique events. The twenty-eighth season runs from June 1 to September 23.   

     In the mainstage tent, Much Ado About Nothing will take audiences on a journey to 1959 Italy where Beatrice and Benedick are movie stars who resist their mutual attraction. Directed by Bard regular John Murphy, this classic Shakespeare comedy is sure to be a treat as we see if love can prevail amidst chaos and confusion.

     The Winter’s Tale runs in repertory on the mainstage and is directed by Bard’s associate artistic director Dean Paul Gibson. Set in Sicily and Bohemia, this is one of those Shakespeare plays that isn’t quite a tragedy, nor is it a comedy. It’s a bit of both: with family drama, jealousy, mistrust, and banishment, but everything works out in the end. With a mythical atmosphere, talented cast, and veteran director, this is set to be a highlight of the summer.

     In the smaller Bard tent, the Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a story of friendship and loyalty that features clowns, a dog, and plenty of laughs. Directed by Bard artistic associate Scott Bellis, this romantic comedy is perfect for those looking for something light-hearted and fun.

     Also in the Douglas Campbell tent is a modern-day version of The Merchant of Venice directed by Nigel Shawn Williams. This drama focuses on the treatment of outsiders and the dangers of prejudice and revenge. Protagonist Shylock also gets his own play this year with local playwright Mark Leiren-Young’s Shylock. The play has been produced at Bard once before, in 1996, and sees a modern-day actor grapple with this complex character and issues of censorship and political correctness. Shylock, directed by Sherry J. Yoon and starring Warren Kimmel runs September 6–15.    

     Among the special events that take place at Bard is the fireworks night “Bard-B-Q” that includes tickets to Much Ado About Nothing or The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a salmon barbeque, and a prime view of the Celebration of Light. There are also many lectures, forums, talkbacks, family nights, and wine tastings each Wednesday.

Tickets start at only $21, so spend your summer nights at Bard and let the magic of Shakespeare and the majesty of the Vancouver skyline transport you to new places and open your mind to new ideas.