By Janine Marley
Across Canada, 150th Birthday celebrations are already underway, many of them outdoor festivals and parades.
While you’re attending one of these celebrations or maybe just travelling this beautiful country, why not take in some outdoor Shakespeare?
Here are the 6 most interesting outdoor Shakespeare venues from coast to coast. Naturally we connect the dots back to the Stratford Festival!
Shakespeare by the Sea in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Shakespeare by the Sea is an open-air festival right along the Halifax shoreline.
With the sea as a stunning backdrop for its plays, Shakespeare by the Sea is a favourite of tourists and locals alike. Shakespeare by the Sea is an artists’ collective, meaning that it’s run for and by artists, with the art at the heart of their mission.
Co-Artistic director and Co-Founder Elizabeth Murphy spent three seasons with the Stratford Festival.
Their season, which runs from July to September, is comprised of “All’s Well that Ends Well,” “Julius Caesar,” “MacBeth: the Shadow King,” and “Peter Pan.”
Shakespeare in the Park in Montreal, Quebec
Repercussion Theatre brings Shakespeare to parks all over Montreal, and the best part is it’s free! (Donations are always welcome, of course)
Because they choose parks in every part of Montreal’s vast communities, they’re able to make Shakespeare accessible to those who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience it.
This season you can catch their beautiful production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” featuring Stratford Festival alumni Quincy Armorer.
The season runs from July 13 to August 15.
Torchlight Shakespeare Festival in Ottawa, Ontario
Headed to the Capitol for Canada Day?
A Company of Fools is performing Shakespeare in parks all over Ottawa! The innovative troupe creates 90 minute versions of Shakespeare’s works and they are performed by anywhere from 3 to 6 actors (which is not an easy feat!) with a new location every performance.
There’s a preview performance on Canada Day of their upcoming production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Their season starts July 3rd and runs until August 19th.
Shakespeare in High Park in Toronto, Ontario
Celebrating their 35th Season, Canadian Stage is bringing “King Lear” and “Twelfth Night” to Shakespeare in High Park. A beautiful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city, Shakespeare in High Park takes place under the stars in one of Toronto’s most picturesque parks.
Stratford Festival veterans Diane D’Aquila and Robert Persichini are featured in both productions.
Both shows run in repertory from June 29th to September 3rd.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The prairie provinces have many outdoor theatre festivals, but in Saskatchewan you have to check out Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan.
They build a whole village along the Saskatoon River complete with pubs, shopping and medieval feasts!
A unique feature to this festival is the Community Stage; a free space for local emerging artists and creators to showcase their work during the run of the festival.
This year the festival is offering two Shakespearean selections, “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night” with Stratford Festival favourite Carmen Grant joining the cast.
Fellow Stratford alumni Skye Brandon, returns this season. Brandon, a Saskatchewan born actor, director, producer moves from Shakespeare to Miller after the season, performing in Drayton Entertainment’s upcoming production of “Death of a Salesman.”
The season runs through July and August.
Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, British Colombia
And finally, we reach the West Coast!
Bard on the Beach is famous for its exquisite views and stunning theatre.
With the ocean and mountains highlighted through their open-ended tents, any of their offerings would be a breathtaking experience.
The critically acclaimed festival features two stages, both under tents, which feature not only Shakespeare’s works, but works which have been inspired by the Bard
The 2017 season features “Much Ado about Nothing,” “The Winter’s Tale,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” and “Shylock,” a new one man play inspired by “Merchant.”
Nigel Shawn Williams, whose credits include five seasons at the Stratford Festival, directs “The Merchant of Venice.”
Another Stratford Festival connection is designer Mara Gottler. The Vancouver based Gottler is making her mark in both fashion and theatre.
As well as designing for Bard on the Beach Gottler is workshopping “Coriolanus,” a co-production of the Stratford Festival and Robert Lepage’s Ex Machina, set to debut during the 2018 Stratford season.
Bard on the Beach runs in repertory from June to September.
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Janine Marley is an actor, director, and reviewer from Kingsville. Her lifelong passion for theatre and its studies took her through her Masters Degree in English Literature and taken her on many exciting theatrical adventures. When she’s not making theatre, she’s watching it and can be found in the audience at the Stratford Festival any given weekend during the summer.
Follow Janine on Twitter: @thetheatregirl
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