Bard on the Beach
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” -William Shakespeare
Bard on the Beach is Western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare Festival. It has an annual attendance of more than 90,000 patrons, and is held in the Bard Village in Vanier Park from mid June to mid September in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Festival celebrates its 25th season in 2013.
The Bard Village is a lively gathering space for patrons to socialize prior to the performances. The Village has a concession, bar services, a gift shop and box office. The Village is open one hour prior to curtain. Performances are held in two tents in a unique setting on the waterfront. The 742-seat main stage tent is open-ended giving the audience a spectacular backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. The Douglas Campbell Studio Stage tent seats 240 and its two repertory productions run from the end of June through September.
Bard on the Beach offers a range of educational opportunities through performances, workshops, downloadable resources and special events. The Society’s aim is to promote an enthusiasm and passion for Shakespeare’s characters, language and stories. Bard on the Beach provides opportunities for students, teachers and lifelong learners to enhance their experience of Shakespeare’s plays through:
- Bard in the Classroom (Workshops for Students)
- Bard Explored Lecture Series
- Bard Unbound (Workshops for Teachers)
- Student Matinees
- Young Shakespeareans Workshops
Bard on the Beach is my favourite summer festival. The popular Bard-B-Q & Fireworks Celebration and the Celebrating Red & White wine tasting event sell out every year. I have attended numerous performances, and recommend tickets be purchased early in the season before they sell out.
Two other well attended events are the Chor Leoni Men’s Choir and Opera & Arias. The Chor Leoni Men’s Choir will entertain you with song from James Bond epics to the Full Monty, from Bollywood to La Cage au Folles and South Pacific. In a concert full of humour and fun, be prepared for a madcap ride as Chor Leoni takes you to the movies.
Opera & Arias features an assortment of scenes from Bizet’s Carmen and The Pearl Fishers, Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Delibes’ Lakmé, Gounod’s Faust and Romeo and Juliet, and Thomas’s Hamlet. This costumed concert series on the BMO main stage showcases gifted young stars of the UBC Opera Ensemble with instrumental accompaniment by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.
Bard on the Beach began as an Equity Co-op in the summer of 1990. The Festival was funded primarily by a Canada Council Explorations grant that was awarded to Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. With this funding and support from patrons, Christopher and a company of actors whom he had directed in Under Milk Wood at the 1989 Vancouver Fringe Festival, staged A Midsummer Night’s Dream as an Equity Co-op production in a rented tent in Vanier Park. More than 6,000 people attended. Following the success of the Festival, the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society was founded in the fall of 1990.
Picnic at Bard
Bard’s official caterer, Emelle’s Catering Ltd, offers pre-ordered picnic services to theatre patrons. From simple bagged snacks with sandwiches, veggies and cookies to dramatic gourmet picnics. You can enjoy your very own feast in Bard Village. Order your picnic directly through Emelle’s 48 hours in advance and you can pick up your picnic in the Village one hour prior to showtime. Bring a blanket, it can get chilly in the evening, and you will want to use the blanket for your picnic.