By Jensen, Randy on July 9, 2020.
For almost a decade, every July and August, the Lethbridge Shakespeare Society has put on a weekly production of Shakespeare in the Park, and with COVID-19 reopening plans relaxing, the Shakespeare Society will be back for its first in-person performance.
Since January, the crew has been working to produce a version of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” directed by John Poulsen, to bring one of Shakespeare’s light-hearted plays to the community.
“The play is a lot of fun, it’s very light hearted, it is one of Shakespeare’s farcicle plays. There is no tragedy in it and it just concerns the story of the notorious womanizer John, and his exploits, his attempts to seduce two married women who are married to wealthy men and he is trying to recoup fortunes because he is low on cash,” says Catherine Connolly, producer for Shakespeare in the Park.
Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown and restrictions, the Shakespeare Society found its spot online, trying different methods of performing through Zoom and then onto a live online production.
“This year is very different. When we started out this year, we started by casting as normal in January, we had our time booked in the Galt Gardens and we had our rehearsal space booked, and normally we start rehearsing in May,” says Connolly. “Of course, COVID put a screeching halt to all of that and for quite a while we were tossing around ideas and thinking we could only do online performances via Zoom with actors in their individual homes.
“Things loosened up in June and we were able to book our rehearsal space for a few times, but what our director had done was he adapted a 75-minute version of ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ and it works very well in the animated reader’s theatre version. Our actors do know the lines but they have script in hand that they use as props, but they come up when we are doing the recordings and they do their performance there and it is quite the production.”
With more restrictions beginning to loosen provincially, the Shakespeare Society of Lethbridge is excited to bring its first in-person production of the year, with limited people allowed to follow social distancing protocols.
“What is exciting is that we are going to be doing a real live performance at the Japanese Gardens on Wednesday, July 15, at 8 p.m., and we are going to have our audience seated in their family groups and properly spaced out, and our actors will space out as well,” says Connolly. “The most that we have ever had as an audience was 500 people in Galt Gardens, but we average 200 to 300, but in COVID times, audiences of even 50 seem very exciting at this time and our actors are all very thrilled at the idea of performing in front of real live people.”
The Shakespeare Society of Lethbridge will have its first live performance on July 15, at 8 p.m. at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. They will also be having another online live production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” on Friday on their Facebook and YouTube pages.
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