June 18th, 2024

Shakespeare in the Park is back this summer

By Al Beeber on July 10, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Chris Kyle Peterson, Megan Fennell and Cole Fetting rehearse a scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Thursday at Kinsmen Park. The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is staging the play, directed by Andrew Legg, tonight at Casa and throughout July at other venues.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Shakespeare in the Park is back! With COVID restrictions lifted, the organizers of the popular event opened a new show Friday night at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.
The show had a limited capacity and was sold-out well before performance times but fans of live theatre and The Bard don’t need to fret because another performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is being staged tonight at Casa downtown in the community room starting at 7 p.m.
Kate Connolly, producer of the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society, said Thursday during dress rehearsals the lifting of COVID restrictions “is such a relief. We’ve been trying and trying to do performances.”
The society has 12 performances of the Shakespeare classic, directed by Andrew Legg, scheduled this summer in the city as well as Nanton and High River. This number is comparable to the society’s average of 15, she said.
In 2020, the society was the only performing arts group in Lethbridge that staged live shows, Connelly said, those being “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” directed by John Poulsen, which were also staged at Nikka Yuko with limited audience numbers who were kept socially distanced.
2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the society which also has shows this month slated July 15-16 at 7 p.m. in Legacy Park, July 18 at 2 p.m. at the Coutts Centre near Nanton, July 23 at Nikka Yuko and July 30 at 7 p.m. in Galt Gardens.
Director Legg said “it’s just so cool seeing people acting together” before he ran his cast through a dress rehearsal of a couple of scenes for media at Kinsmen Park.
That park has been the home of rehearsals this spring, which actually began on Zoom, said the director.
“We kind of went through the play online on Zoom,” said the director, who wanted to make sure his cast understood the meaning of the words they were reciting. Those Zoom meetings gave a chance for cast and director to consider among other things what the characters were thinking about in various scenes.
“Especially with Shakespeare, you know the words are pretty but you may not be sure what the words mean,” said Legg.
“If I don’t know what the words mean, far be it for the audience to know.”
As restrictions eased, the troupe felt comfortable going to Kinsmen Park where rehearsals have gone on outdoors without a hitch thanks to good weather.
The play being mounted is “the perfect play for summer and it’s the perfect play for Shakespeare in the Park,” said Legg.
A comedy written around 1595, it’s set in Athens and revolves around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta with various subplots. One involves amateur actors rehearsing a play they are to perform before the wedding, said Legg.
“These are real working dudes and it’s written into the play they’re going to put on a play for the big wedding,” he said, calling this Shakespeare classic “the superhero movie of it’s day.”
“Shakespeare had a real contemporary sensibility in his time; he was the Michael Bay of his day,” said Legg.
The play also features stunning handmade costumes sewn by Amanda Epp.

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pursuit diver

I am happy to see they found a new venue where we can actually take our kids and grandkids to. Nothing like trying to explain to the grandkids why 100 feet from where we are seated watching the show, EMS were performing life saving measures on an addict who overdosed in Galt Gardens.
This became a regular event during the shows, while the SCS was still operating!
I actually will be taking in the shows once again, now they have found a better venue!