One of my absolute favourite things in the world is Shakespeare-in-the-Park.
As a part of Repercussion Theatre, a non-profit organization that tours Canada and the U.S., Shakespeare-in-the-Park is a troupe of actors who perform (you guessed it) exclusively Shakespearean plays in outdoor public spaces. It’s because of them that I love the Bard as much as I do.
Over the years, I’ve seen countless plays by them – probably my favourites being The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In fact, I’ve never seen a better performance of the latter. With what must have been an absurd stroke of genius, they managed to adapt the setting into 19th century fur trading Canada wherein the main characters were French vs British, and the fairy king and queen were First Nations peoples. It was already my favourite play, and that my friend is what they call a cherry on top.
Anyway this year was the never-before-done (by them at least) Julius Caesar – with a twist: an all women’s cast.
I’ve never seen Julius Caesar performed before so I was quite eager. I always find that plays need to be seen rather than read – especially Shakespeare.
There’s something ethereal about watching a play outdoors as the sun sets behind the stage, shrouding the players with dusk, the wind shifting through the trees. Especially a play revolving around treachery and ghosts.
While it might not have been my favourites I’ve seen, the actress playing Brutus was truly phenomenal. Her performance was underlined by the eerie and continued presence of the spirit of Caesar after the murder.
As always, it was a memorable night.
If you do decide to ever drop by one of these shows (as I wholeheartedly recommend), they’re around the Montreal area during the summer. Here’s a list of where the play toured this year to give an idea of a place that might be nearby you.
In terms of cost, it’s free! But, like I mentioned above, they are a non-profit organization and registered charity: their mandate is to provide low-income communities access to quality theatre. So although you don’t need to pay, donations are very warmly accepted on a give-what-you-can basis.
Otherwise all you need to do is bring a blanket or folding chair with a picnic dinner, and you’re set! And if you forgot food, there’s plenty of nibbles to keep you going at the snack shack.
Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do a post before the performances are done so there’s a chance for you still to go, but I send the word out into the ether regardless: go see Shakespeare-in-the-Park.
You won’t regret it.