Bard on the Beach; Othello

Today we went to see the Bard on the Beach production of Othello and I have to admit, I had very mixed emotions while watching the performance.

Yes, it was a beautiful stage, amazing acting, and an interesting spin on Shakepeare’s classic story by setting it in the American Civil War.

So what was my problem? Well, I was uncomfortable with the outright racism directed at Othello by his new father in law. I just felt myself squirming in my seat a little while watching the other players refer to Othello as “the Moor” and their plotting against him.

However, I did stay for the production and I have no hesitation in telling you it was a beautiful performance that is worth seeing even if it does make you squirm in your seat. I also have no hesitation in advising you to bring at least a couple tissues with you to the performance. No spoiler, it IS a tragedy.

All Bard on the Beach productions are performed in the tent-theatres at Vanier Park in Vancouver. You can call the Bard on the Beach box office at 604-739-0559 or go online to get tickets.

Bard on the Beach 2016

Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival begins its 27th season in Vanier Park on June 3, with an exciting lineup of plays, concerts and special events.

All tickets for Bard on the Beach went on sale April 6 for the 2016 season, which runs from June 3 to September 24.

The Festival’s summer-long celebration of Shakespeare starts with ROMEO AND JULIET on the BMO Mainstage, with Kim Collier (Hamlet, 2013) returning to Bard to direct this timeless romantic tragedy. It alternates with Bard’s Jessie Award-winning 2012 production of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

In Bard on the Beach tradition, This high-spirited comedy and live performance is full of classic 60s popular music with Johnna Wright back to direct, this time on the BMO Mainstage, along with many of the original actors.

On the Howard Family Stage, in the Douglas Campbell Theatre, two of Bard’s best-known and award-winning actors make their Bard directorial debuts.

Bob Frazer directs the tragedy OTHELLO, setting the play’s jealousy and manipulation amidst the racism and violence of the American Civil War.

Lois Anderson directs a mythical and exotic setting of PERICLES, Shakespeare’s adventurous tale of a hero’s quest to find love, family and the meaning of life.

Something new for Bard on the Beach this year is their Family Nights: Lively pre-show activities with family package pricing available on July 6, August 3 and August 31 @ 6pm.

For run dates and ticket pricing, you can check out the Bard on the Beach website.

About Bard on the Beach:

Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. Established in 1990, Bard is an annual summer festival with a mission to perform, explore and celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare, surrounded by the natural beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Play performances run Tuesday through Sunday with matinees on selected weekends and weekdays and some special events on Monday evenings. All evening performances start at 7:30 pm.

Bard On The Beach 2016 Schedule

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has announced a 2016 season that will showcase the genius and popular appeal of the great English playwright, in a year of world-wide celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

The 27th Bard season, sponsored by Goldcorp and running from June 3 to September 24, 2016, will bring two proven audience favourites to the BMO Mainstage.

Opening the Festival is Romeo and Juliet, the timeless story of a pair of young star-crossed lovers whose families are bitterly divided; Bard’s powerful and sensuous new production will be directed by Siminovitch Prize winner and past Bard director Kim Collier (Hamlet, 2013).

Alternating with Romeo and Juliet is the Jessie Award-winning production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, back by popular demand after a sold-out 2012 Bard run and re-imagined this season for the larger BMO Mainstage. The music-filled production is set in 1968 Windsor, Ontario and will be directed again by Johnna Wright; its production sponsor is Polygon Homes.

On the Howard Family Stage, veteran Bard actor Bob Frazer (Macbeth, 2012) will direct a provocative new staging of Othello, with its action unfolding during the American Civil War.

The production sponsor is Lonetree Cider. Othello will alternate with a new production of Pericles, set in an ancient, mythical pagan kingdom and directed by Lois Anderson, another award-winning veteran of Bard’s acting companies (Kate, The Taming of the Shrew, 2012). Pericles’ production sponsor is BlueShore Financial.

“We go into our 27th season while the world is honouring and celebrating Shakespeare, and this set of plays will showcase his genius,” says Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. “We are fortunate to have engaged such an outstanding team of theatre creators who will bring their visions of these great classics to our Vanier Park stages next season, for what I know will be a memorable year for us.”

Tickets for Bard on the Beach’s 2016 Festival on sale in early April and will be available through the Bard website or by calling Bard’s in-house Box Office at 604-739-0559.

Hamlet at Bard on the Beach

Just a quick post here for now…today Sweetheart and I took in the matinee performance of Hamlet at Bard on The Beach. In one word; WOW.

This is an unforgettable show. Jonathan Young plays the part of Hamlet and the other actors on the stage with him, while good, were simply supporting players in this extraordinary one-man show.

The last time I saw a performance of Hamlet (in a previous season of Bard on the Beach) it was Opehlia’s death scene that shook my world. Watching her come apart was breath-taking and shocking.

This season, it is Jonathan Young as Hamlet who steals the show. His non-stop action IS the show.

More later. If you want to go see this extraordinary show, visit the Bard website or call them at 604-739-0559. Either way, do see this show.

Elizabeth Rex ROCKS Bard on the Beach

Elizabeth Rex Photo David Blue
Elizabeth Rex Photo by David Blue

I am a dedicated fan of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and this year’s performance of Elizabeth Rex once again solidifies my support.

And you probably also know that I am not an expert on describing theatre in the sense that I really understand how all that fancy theatre language really works other than the fact that a performance MOVES me or it does not. And, the Bard on the Beach production of Elizabeth Rex MOVED me.

It was also interesting to note that the opening scene of the play and the closing scene were the ones I most vividly recall.

The opening scene was wild with obscenities and I could not help but look around at the rest of the audience, particularly the significant number of white-haired people in the tent and wonder how they were taking the almost over-the-top, jarring use of obscenities. To me, the language absolutely worked.

Elizabeth Rex Photo by David Blue
Elizabeth Rex Photo by David Blue

And then there was the breath-taking closing scene. The best word I can come up with is that the closing scene was cathartic. Although I am grasping for words here, I know that at the end of the play I felt like myself and the rest of the audience had not taken a breath for an eternity.

If you can, get your butt down to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and see Elizabeth Rex. You will not be disappointed.

You can buy tickets to the Bard on the Beach by visiting their website or by phoning them at 604-739-0559. The season typically sells out so call soon. And, they now have reserved seating so there is no more of that lining up business!


Bard on the Beach Becomes … Fight Night?

For one night only, the Vancouver theatre institution known as Bard on the Beach, a theatre company that year after year puts on some of the most fabulous Shakespeare performances is changing direction and becoming a Fight Club.

Bard on the Beach Fight Night
Bard on the Beach Fight Night

Well, okay, it is not exactly an Ed Norton style fight club, but it is a change up for the Bard on the Beach Festival.

The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, in partnership with Academie Duello, presents an evening of words and swordplay to celebrate the Canadian release of Bard alumni C.C. Humphreys’ latest novel, Shakespeare’s Rebel. The event will be held in Bard’s BMO Mainstage Theatre in Vanier Park on Monday, July 22, 2013. All tickets $10 (general admission).

I had the pleasure of attending and filming a few minutes of one of the rehearsals for the Bard’s Fight Night. I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the video, without realizing it at the time, I changed a setting on my camera so some of the video is quite blurry.

During the rehearsal the people from Academie Duello and two actors, Kayla and Camden were “mapping their scene”.

It was interesting to see how the company puts together what the casual observer might see as a “quick sword fight”. The amount of preparation to put on a sword fight that is a just a minute or two long is extraordinary.

After the rehearsal was over I continued watching Kayla and Camden continue their practice out in the Bard on the Beach courtyard. Both actors are certified in the art of sword fighting by Fight Directors Canada. Once again, I have to say that I am very impressed by the methodical and mechanical work that goes into preparing for a sword fighting scene.

I am looking forward to seeing how all the practice and scene mapping comes together into one fluid performance. If you would like to see the Bard on the Beach Fight Night, come on down to Vancouver’s Vanier Park on Monday, July 22nd. The show begins at 7pm.

Special event details for Shakespeare’s Rebel book launch and sword fight event are as follows:

Event date: Monday, July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Ticket pricing: $10 (all fees and taxes included); general admission

Event location: BMO Mainstage, Bard on the Beach

Copies of Shakespeare’s Rebel will be available for purchase at the event, signed by C.C. Humphreys

The performance schedule and information can be found on the Bard website at For more information and tickets, call 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559 or order online through the Bard website.


“As You Like It” for Bard on the Beach

Although you wouldn’t be able to guess as much when looking at the muddy construction site at Vanier Park, Bard on the Beach will soon be open. The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will open their 22nd season with the light-hearted romantic comedy As You Like It.

Bard on the Beach Mainstage
Bard on the Beach Mainstage

The play is staged Tuesdays through Sundays, June 2 to September 24th in the brand spanking new 742 seat custom-built Mainstage Theatre tent in Vanier Park.

And although I was unable to attend the press conference myself, I have it upon good authority that the Bank of Montreal’s (BMO Financial Group) very generous support of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has earned them the right to have the new stage titled the BMO Mainstage.

Ignoring the financial matters for the time being though, it is with great pleasure that I tell you, our dedicated reader, that the director for As You Like It is, drum roll please….David Mckay!!

I don’t know what it is about David Mckay but my Sweetheart and I both adore the work that this guy does. His direction of The Comedy of Errors was exceptional. We are definitely looking forward to seeing what he does with As You Like It.

From what I have heard so far, David Mckay has set the play in 1642, in the midst of England’s Puritan era. The newly-configured thrust stage gave Mainstage Theatre Stage Designer Kevin McAllister the opportunity to showcase the sculptural elements that create the Forest of Arden. Add to that the work of Sound Designer Murray Price’s music and sound…welcome to the Forest or Arden!

However, all this is rather theoretical for me. I will wait for June 2nd when the previews begin for As You Like It. At that point I will be able to tell you what I think of the new thrust-stage and the massive new tent that holds all the Shakespearean drama.

Just for the record, the previews for As You Like It run June 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8th. The real deal begins on June 9th.

To see the entire season schedule and to get your tickets, visit the Bard on the Beach website or order by phone at 604-739-0559. To my mind, Bard on the Beach is the best theatre value our city offers. The best.

Bard on the Beach Stage Prep

I thought I would take a cruise by Vanier Park to see how the site prep is coming for this year’s Bard on the Beach. I was a little surprised to see how little has been done to prep the theatre up to this point.

Bard on the Beach Site Prep
Bard on the Beach Site Prep

However, I also know that the crew who construct and assemble the Bard on the Beach theatre/tents are experts in what they do and will without a doubt have the theatre ready for the opening performance .

I was also wondering how many stagecraft students have ever seen this type of equipment when they are doing their stagecraft stuff.

Bard on the Beach Site Prep Equipment
Bard on the Beach Site Prep Equipment

From what I can see on the Bard on the Beach website their season opens on June 2nd with a performance of As You Like It. I can hardly wait!!

Bard on the Beach to Celebrate Bill Shakespeare’s Birthday

On May 5th the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will celebrate Shakespeare’s 447th birthday with its annual fundraising event: BILL’S BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST. This festive and informative morning will take place from 7:30 to 9:00am at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

While guests enjoy a delicious breakfast, the four directors who will stage this summer’s productions of As You Like It David Mackay, The Merchant of Venice Rachel DitorHenry VI: The Wars of the Roses – Christopher Weddell and Richard III – Kathryn Shaw, will share exclusive insight into their unique visions for the plays. There will be chances to win door prizes and to purchase prize balloons for tickets to cultural events, restaurants, weekend getaways and more. All proceeds will benefit Bard Education programs.

Tickets to this gourmet and artistic feast are $40 per person. To reserve a seat at Bill’s Birthday Breakfast, call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or book online at Bard on the Beach.

Exciting Times for Stacey Robinsmith dot com

These are exciting times in the editorial offices of Stacey Robinsmith dot com. First off, April 30th is opening night of the Vancouver Opera performance of La Traviata and as usual, we will be live-blogging the opera.

La Traviata photo by Richard Termine
La Traviata photo by Richard Termine

You can check-in here on the night of the 30th for a sneak peak behind the stage before the opera opens and you can count on a half time (is that what they call the break between periods in opera?) “review” of the festivities. Of course you can always count on the behind the scenes, back-stage-after party dish.

As exciting as this news is, there is more! Yes, Stacey Robinsmith dot com has been added to the Bard on the Beach blogger team! We are still ironing out the details of what this will look like but at a minimum I will be bringing you up-dates as the Bard on the Beach season draws nigh and near. Hie thee hither for a Bard on the Beach ticket giveaway? We will see how that plays out (excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist).

And…yes, one more super, super exciting piece of business is in the works. As a follow-up to our day aboard the Seen Seas Navigator ultra-luxury cruise ship, we are negotiating with a couple other cruise ship companies to get Stacey Robinsmith dot com aboard for another look around two other cruise ship companies to see how they do the cruise business.

Exciting times indeed. Vancouver Opera, Bard on the Beach, and a cruise? These are most definitely the good old days.