Bard on the Beach celebrates 30 years under its iconic red and white tents with mainstage productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare in Love. Photo and image design by Emily Cooper.
Bard on the Beach celebrates 30 years under its iconic red and white tents with mainstage productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare in Love. Photo and image design by Emily Cooper.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will feature a new interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s more controversial works, and a stage adaptation of an Oscar-winning movie as its two mainstage productions.

Opening this year’s festival is a production of the comedy, The Taming of the Shrew.

Inspired by the festival’s 2007 Wild West production, it will feature long-time Bard actors Jennifer Lines and Andrew McNee in the roles of Kate and Petruchio. It will be directed by Lois Anderson who was at the helm of Lysistrata last year, and Pericles in 2016.

For this sometimes-controversial play, Anderson has revamped the script by having some of Petruchio’s lines spoken by Kate. It is a move she believes honours Shakespeare’s original vision for his characters.

“When the playbill went up for The Taming of the Shrew in Elizabethan times, everyone would have thought they were going to see the comical tale of a marriage in the vein of ‘Punch and Judy’ – but Shakespeare challenged that old trope by staging a profound love story between a husband and wife,” says Anderson in a media release. “He tells a story of two kindred spirits; two soul mates who are equally matched: mentally and physically. There is no taming in this story.  We’re just watching two people encounter each other, trying to comprehend each other, while they are falling in love.”

In its second mainstage show this summer, Bard on the Beach will present the stage adaptation of the 1999 Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love.

It is the fictional story of Will Shakespeare who, suffering from temporary writer’s block, meets Viola de Lesseps. Becoming his creative muse, she will stop at nothing, including breaking the law, to perform in his next play. Their relationship blossoms amid the rivalry between London’s competing theatre companies.

Featuring Ghazal Azarbad as Viola and Charlie Gallant as Will, Shakespeare in Love will be directed by Daryl Cloran, who returns to Bard on the Beach following last year’s Beatles-infused summer hit, As You Like It.

“Viola has a line where she says, ‘I will have love… Love like there has never been in a play’, and I think we accomplish that with this production,” says Cloran. “We get to see a profound love between her and Will, which they find through their love of words and their love of theatre. And for me, that’s what’s at the heart of this play. It’s a love of theatre. It’s a celebration of the ephemeral magic of theatre, of those moments that can never be recreated.”

Under the festival’s other tent will be a new staging of All’s Well That Ends Well set in India during the waning days of British occupation, and a gender-bend production of Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus.

The 2019 Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival runs June 5 through September 23 under the festival’s iconic red and white tents at Vancouver’s Vanier Park. Visit bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information.