Credit to: http://enroute.aircanada.com/en/articles/bard-on-the-beachBard on the Beach closed out its 25th Anniversary season last night, with the final, sold-out, performances of Cymbeline and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I worked my final volunteer shift, ushering for Dream. I think that makes five times I saw that particular play this year. The performance was hilarious, with extra hilarity for closing night from pretty much everyone, but especially Puck, Bottom, and the fairies.

This has been a spectacular season in the tents, it’s generally agreed. The summer has been remarkably hot and dry, which has given us some sweaty nights in the tents and in the village (especially behind the concession counters), but it’s also kept the grounds and the indoor environments (dressing rooms, green rooms, theatres, stages, village) remarkably free of the mud that gets tracked about in wetter years. It’s given us very few chilly evenings since the very early part of the season–I was comfortable in t-shirt sleeves last night, even at midnight–and the heat has kept the mosquito population minimal (though moths and butterflies have boomed), which is always pleasant. And the plays have been fantastic, and wonderfully well received. I saw them all — most of them more than once — and there wasn’t a sour note in the whole symphony. Audiences seem to agree.

Volunteering has also been a rewarding experience. I worked 50+ volunteer hours, and got a silver-tone volunteer pin to start my collection of such things. I did a little bit of everything: taking tickets at the entrance, directing traffic into the tents and in the washrooms (you’d be amazed the difference it makes to how quickly the lineup moves at intermission), ushering, selling food, drinks, and merch, answering questions and shmoozing visitors at the “Ask Us!” desk. I quickly learned which jobs I like best, and if I’m able to volunteer again next year, I’ll specialize a little more than I did this year.

I worked with some wonderful people, both staff and volunteers, and got to talk to all kinds of patrons, from first-timers to long-timers, young kids (all of whom were seeing Dream) and great-grandparents, locals, people visiting Vancouver for the first time, and people who travel every year to come to Bard on the Beach. There are a lot of young people at Bard shows, and that’s building a new generation of lovers of Shakespeare, of theatre, of red and white tents in parks. That’s good for Bard’s continued existence and prosperity. Shakespeare is cool. Everyone knows that.

Closing night always includes a candlelight procession of the casts and crews from both tents being joined onstage by the staff, board members, and volunteers, for the announcement of next year’s program and a lights-out farewell. The 2015 plays are:

  • King Lear and Comedy of Errors in the BMO Mainstage tent (big tent)
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost and Shakespeare’s Rebel on the Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre (small tent)

In a new twist, both casts will be working in both theatres, rather than doing both their shows in the same tent. The colours above show which plays share a cast. That’s going to be interesting for them, because each tent has its own dressing room, and they’ll be moving their makeup and whatnot every night, or possibly sharing a makeup table with a member of the other cast. I want to do a behind-the-scenes tour next season, to find out how that’s working out.

Comedy of Errors will have a steampunk influence, and will be directed by this year’s Bottom, Scott Bellis. Love’s Labour’s Lost will be a musical (yay!). And author-actor-swordsman C.C. Humphreys, an old friend of Bard, has adapted his novel Shakespeare’s Rebel for the stage especially for next year’s production. I’ve met Chris Humphreys, and enjoyed his fiction, so I am doubly excited to see that. Must see about getting my paws on a copy of the book before next June.

So farewell for another season, Will et all. See you again in June 2015.

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