By Martin, Tijana on June 28, 2017.
Shakespeare will take over Galt Gardens this summer as the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society hosts the sixth annual Shakespeare in the Park.
This year, they’ll be performing “The Comedy of Errors,” – with a twist.
“Our director Ron Chambers, from the university theatre department, has chosen to place the ‘Comedy of Errors’ in 1880’s Western Canada, in a cowboy town called Heifersus,” said Kate Connolly, producer for Shakespeare in the Park. “It’s one of his most farcical, slapstick comedies – it’s really an all-out riot.”
Connolly noted often in Shakespeare plays, there’s a set of identical twins.
“There’s all kinds of confusion,” she said. “But for this play, we actually have two pairs of identical twins, who have not seen each other since birth, and end up in the same town, on the same day and create a huge amount of confusion for the townspeople.”
This year’s production features a cast of 16, with 10 or so crew members, the majority of which Connolly said are current University of Lethbridge students, with a few graduates and community actors.
“They go into it with great enthusiasm and they learn a lot along the way,” she said. “We always have experienced and interesting directors to direct for us and they all bond together in this whole process.”
Austin Halarewich, a third-year performance major at the U of L, will be playing Antipholus of Syracuse, twin brother to Antipholus of Ephesus.
While he’s worked with Chambers before, this will be the first time he’s taken Shakespeare to a park environment.
“Here you have a lot more freedom, just in the choices you can make, and the fun you can have. Because it’s outside, you can interact with people from the community” said Halarewich, who noted many are curious as to what’s going on.
They’ll ask questions, he said.
“Then I’ll walk up in character, and start talking to them – they just love it.”
That simple interaction attracts interest and he feels many will come see a performance as a result.
The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is a non-profit group, and while the actors get a small honorarium, Connolly feels those in the cast walk away with a far richer learning experience.
“Many of our past actors have gone on to professional, and semi-professional acting jobs in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.”
There will be 12 local performances, each running about an hour and 15 minutes. On average, Connolly estimates they draw in about 4,500 attendees each season.
Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket, or lawn chair, and donations will be graciously accepted but not required.
“We pass the hat around afterwards, and actually, it ends up after a season being a fairly substantial part of our income.”
Shakespeare in the Park will take place starting at 7 p.m. at Galt Gardens Thursdays and Fridays in July, including an indoor matinee at 2 p.m. at Casa on July 29, and the first two weeks of August.
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