Bard on the Beach sees record attendance in 25th year

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      Bard on the Beach attendance set an all-time record in its 25th anniversary season, according to festival organizers.

      Nearly 101,000 people took in the lineup this year, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival announced today (September 22).

      “There’s so much to hope for next year, having had these swelling crowds for our 25th,” Bard’s founder and artistic director Christopher Gaze told the Straight by phone.

      “It’s a number that we’ve had our eye on for seven or eight years, to hit 100,000 patrons. And I think it’s a triumph for the city, let alone our Shakespeare festival. And it says a lot about what we’ve accomplished.”

      Despite the B.C. teachers strike, the festival still managed to draw thousands of students.

      “We had to rejig the whole end of our season to fit with the teachers strike, because we put all these shows in in September to embrace the schools,” Gaze explained.

      “It’s the audience of the future, it’s part of the mandate of our company definitely to invite as many young people in as possible…And so it worked out for some who were able to get here at the different times, obviously without their teachers.”

      This year, the festival also saw a 25-percent increase in volunteer hours compared to last year, Gaze noted.

      “Our volunteers are perfectly extraordinary,” he said. “They are so dedicated to Bard. We had 260 of them who gave all the hours—19,000. I mean that’s astonishing.”

      Next year’s season will include what Gaze describes as a “steampunk” version of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Scott Bellis. The production will alternate with the tragedy King Lear, featuring Ben Campbell and directed by Theatre Calgary’s artistic director Dennis Garnhum.

      Audiences can anticipate a music-filled production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Western Canada Theatre artistic director Daryl Cloran, set in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties.

      Also on the bill is the world premiere of a new play based on C.C. Humphreys’ historical novel Shakespeare’s Rebel.

      “It’s a rollicking adventure story that one, and I think the audiences will really embrace it,” said Gaze.

      “It’s entirely in Shakespeare’s time, in fact it’s at the time when Shakespeare’s writing Hamlet...I think it’ll be a crackerjack show."

      Bard’s 2015 season will run from June 4 to September 26.




      Sep 22, 2014 at 8:06pm

      I liked it better when they did four classic plays. Equivocation was one of the worst pieces of theatre I've ever seen.


      Sep 23, 2014 at 11:17am

      Hazlit; NOT TO BE.