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Theatre group putting off three shows this season
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Well, in St. John’s, a summer's day can be bright and welcoming, but more often than not days end up being rainy and foggy, especially from what we’ve seen this summer.
Summertime events, like Shakespeare by the Sea, are planning for the expected.
The 27th season of Shakespeare by the Sea will open its metaphorical curtains this Saturday, and it’s good to know that the plays, which have normally taken place outdoors, will not stop for the scattered rainy day that this city is so often graced with. Instead, The Rooms has offered to give shelter if the weather does not co-operate.
Sandra Mills, general manager of Shakespeare by the Sea, says this season's three productions are “Comedy of Errors,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” and “Tunes and Tales with Kelly Russell.”
“Every weekend people are guaranteed a Shakespearean play,” Mills said.
The plays are Elizabethan treats with a dollop of Newfoundland lore, perfect for locals and tourists alike.
This season is tagged “Tragical Comical” and will begin with “Comedy of Errors,” one of Shakespeare’s early plays. The original play is known for slapstick comedy, mistaken identities and plenty of puns.
Puns and punts
Paul Rowe, artistic director for Shakespeare by the Sea, is directing “Comedy of Errors” and has put Newfoundland history into the family-friendly comedy.
The cast will bring the audience back to the days when fishing admirals and merchants walked quite possibly the exact area the play will be performed — the Fortis Courtyard and Amphitheatre at The Rooms.
“I think it’s great that we are using this important new cultural space for Shakespeare and it is to our advantage that the play is designed to appeal to family audiences,” Rowe said. “It’s very inviting.”
“The idea that we had using the amphitheatre is that it would be a great choice for a historical Newfoundland piece,” Mills said. “And as using The Rooms as a backdrop, we hope it will influence people to go in afterwards and learn about Newfoundland history.”
"Comedy of Errors" will play from July 6 until Aug. 11, every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m in the Fortis Courtyard and Amphitheatre at The Rooms.
Tragedy in Tattoo Field
The second play that the cast are putting off is “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Chances are you read “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare in your high school English class, and possibly dozed off into dreamland listening to your teacher pick apart the metaphors of the Bard, but expect something you’ve never seen before, Mills says.
“Macbeth” is directed by Nicole Rousseau and will be performed at Signal Hill Tattoo Fields on Fridays and Saturdays from July 12 to Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
“I think they are going to see something that I have not seen on Signal Hill in a long time. Traditionally when people go up in Tattoo Field, it’s kind of condensed,” Mills said.
The audience will have the whole of Tattoo Field as a backdrop.
“I think it’s everything you know about ‘Macbeth’ but told in a really down to earth way. It’s just very epic. Simple but epic,” Mills said.
The final production of Shakespeare by the Sea’s season is "Tunes and Tales with Kelly Russell," taking place at The Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club from July 8 to Aug. 19.
“Kelly has been a keeper of so many Newfoundland stories,” Mills said.
"For tourists, it’s the perfect show, to sit in the (Crow’s Nest) Officers’ Club, that’s been there since the war days and listen to the music and storytelling of Russell,” Mills said. “It’s also really interesting for anyone living in the city who maybe hasn’t experienced the outport culture and the old stories.”
Admission for the two Shakespeare plays will be by donation, and donations cover production costs for the season. "Tales and Tunes by Kelly Russell" is a 19+ show with an admission price of $25 — $20 for students, seniors and unwaged.
More information about Shakespeare by the Sea and the GoFundMe campaign can be found online at www.shakespearebytheseafestival.com.
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