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Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

Bard Village at Bard on the Beach

Bard on the Beach is a world-famous Shakespearean theatre festival in Vancouver. It normally takes place at Vanier Park from May until October.

The 33rd annual Bard on the Beach festival takes place from June 8th until September 24th in 2022. The plays include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Harlem Duet and Romeo & Juliet. For tickets and full details about the 2022 season, visit the bardonthebeach.org website.

On the evenings of July 23rd, 27th and 30th it’s Fireworks Night at Bard Village. That means that in addition to seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream you can enjoy a delicious dinner and watch the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks after the show. For tickets and details about these events, click Bard Fireworks Nights.

 


The information in this article includes the following topics:

Bard on the Beach Venue | Summer Lineup Program | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Harlem Duet | Romeo and Juliet | Admission Details | Special Events | Tips & Recommendations | About Bard on the BeachOther Information

Click on any of the above links to jump to details on a specific topic, or see below for all information.


 

Bard on the Beach at Vancouver’s Vanier Park

The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival takes place in an outdoor tent theatre every year from early June to mid-September. It’s a world-class series of Shakespearean productions that has been going on for over 30 years.

If you like Shakespeare, then it’s a festival you won’t want to miss!

 

Bard on the Beach

 

Bard on the Beach Venue

Bard on the Beach performances take place in the Bard Festival Site at Vanier Park in Kitsilano in two separate tent theatres – the 733-seat BMO Mainstage Theatre and the smaller 240-seat Howard Family Theatre. Two productions take place in each theatre over the course of the summer, with the four shows alternating over different evenings.

Parking for the Bard can be found at the nearby H.R. MacMillan Space Centre at 1100 Chestnut Street. The cost there is about $7 for the evening after 6 pm.

 


Click Bard on the Beach for the festival’s official website.


 

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Bard Festival Site

 

2022 Bard Summer Program Lineup

The 2022 Bard on the Beach program is set to include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Harlem Duet and Romeo and Juliet. Details about each of the plays for 2022 are provided below.

 


A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM


 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a Shakespearean comedy about a group of lovers and actors in the woods that are manipulated by a band of fairies. The Vancouver version is set in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution and combines the natural and supernatural worlds.

Directed by Scott Bellis, this play is set to be performed in the BMO Mainstage Theatre on select dates between June 8th and September 24th in 2022.

We went to see this show on opening night, and it was a great time! The set and costume design were fantastic and the show really leaned into the comedic aspects of the play. It was quite funny and the audience was very engaged with the show.

 

StayVancouverHotels.com

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Synopsis

The play begins with the tangled love story of Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena. Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, but she loves Lysander. Demetrius meanwhile is in love with Hermia. Helena, however, loves Demetrius. All four lovers escape into the forest to begin their journeys to discover who they are and who they love.

Within the forest the four main characters encounter two other groups. The first is a group of fairies who are very mischievous. The fairies’ magic juice is the central item that causes trouble within the plot. Also in the forest is a group of actors practicing their play about Pyramus and Thisbe.

There are many twists and turns in the plot, including the spell of the magic juice being added to and removed from almost all of the characters. In the end the characters manage to escape from the forest and their journeys of discovery are complete.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bard
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

(* The above photo is of actress Sarah Roa as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bard on the Beach. The photo is by Emily Cooper.)

 


HARLEM DUET


 

Harlem Duet is not a play written by Shakespeare. In fact, it’s a modern one as it was written by award-winning Canadian playwright Djanet Sears in 1997. This show uses the characters of the Shakespeare play Othello, imagining them in different situations across time with an emphasis on racial tensions.

Directed by Cherissa Richards, opening night for Harlem Duet in 2022 is June 15th. Last day of the run is scheduled for July 17th.

 

Harlem Duet Synopsis

The play centres around Othello and his marriage to a woman named Billie before he meets another woman who he falls in love with. The first act of the play is set in the United States in the 1860s before the Emancipation Proclamation. The second is in New York’s Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, and the third is in the 1990s and the modern age.

All of the settings explore the relationship between Othello and Desdemona, putting the characters in situations far different to the ones Shakespeare did. The story does not follow the narrative of Othello as while it’s using the names of some famous characters the story is its own unique tale. It’s a story of race relations, romance and tragedy.

 


ROMEO AND JULIET


 

Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, a tragedy about a pair of young lovers who are caught up in the bloody feud between their two families. This version of the play sets it in the classical Elizabethan setting, although it aims to provide more focus on Juliet’s side of the story.

The first performance of the year for this production is going to be on August 3rd. The play then continues until the last day of the Bard on the Beach season which is September 24th.

 

Romeo and Juliet Synopsis

Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona, Italy, and begins with yet another fight between members of the Montague and Capulet families who have been feuding for years. In the midst of this bad blood, Romeo of the Montague family and Juliet of the Capulet family meet at a masked ball at the Capulet’s mansion and they fall in love.

Despite the fact that neither of their families would approve of their relationship, the two teenagers decide to get married in secret but they are forced to be separated when Romeo is exiled from Verona and Juliet is ordered to marry another man who her parents approve of.

Instead, Juliet concocts a plan to fake her own death and then escape Verona to be with Romeo. However, the story ends in tragedy as Romeo believes she is truly dead so he kills himself, and when Juliet awakens from her self-induced coma and discovers this she does the same. The play ends with the two warring families reconciling through the losses of their children.

 

Bard on the Beach Entrance Gate
Bard Entrance Gate (Photo by Maxine Bulloch)

 

Bard Admission Details

Tickets can be purchased online. In 2022 single-ticket prices for youth (ages 6 to 22, with ID required for the older ones), start at about $13 each. Children under 6 are not permitted to most performances (and they probably wouldn’t appreciate Shakespeare anyway). Single-ticket prices for adults in 2022 start at $27.

For more information, check out the official Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival website.

 

Bard Village Plaza
Inside the Bard Village

 

Bard Special Events

In addition to its usual Shakespearean plays, Bard on the Beach also offers a number of special events each season. These include extra evening choir and opera performances, as well as exclusive fireworks viewing nights.

 

Concerts at the Bard Village

The Bard on the Beach venue hosts a number of special events that don’t involve Shakespeare or theatre.

In 2022 the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs on June 28th at 7:30 pm. The Opera & Arias celebration is on September 12th and 13th this year, with 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm showtimes on both days.

Tickets start at $27 for all ages.

 

Family Days & Relaxed Performances

Another special event in 2022 provides a way for all ages to enjoy the Bard experience. Family Days and Relaxed Performances are when families can attend and enjoy various activities, including a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Dates for the special offering in 2022 are July 17th and August 14th. On these days, the environment is more casual. Folks in the audience can make noise or move around without worrying too much. This is perfect for families with young children.

Tickets start at $27 for adults and youth. Special pricing is available for infants and toddlers as well.

 

Bard on the Beach

 

Bard-B-Q & Fireworks Nights

Most years, the Bard-B-Q & Fireworks event takes place during the Celebration of Light Festival on the last two Saturdays and last Wednesday prior to the BC Day Long Weekend. Tickets cost between around $100 and $150 or so. The Bard-B-Q includes a play, barbecue dinner, live entertainment and views of the fireworks in English Bay.

2021 celebrations were scheduled for July 24th, 28th and 31st. These dates, however, were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2022 dates are July 23rd, 27th and 30th.

 

Bard Village on Fireworks Night
Bard on the Beach on Fireworks Night

 

Bard Tips & Recommendations

Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Shakespearean experience.

TIP #1: Especially if seeing a show in the evening in early June, late August or September, dress warmly, and maybe even take a blanket with you. Vancouver can get cool at night, even in the summer.

TIP #2: Consider combining your trip to see a Shakespearean show with other activities in the area. The Vancouver Maritime MuseumH.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Museum of Vancouver are all right next door, also in Vanier Park. Kitsilano Beach is also just down the way in one direction and Granville Island is not far in the other. The whole area is connected by the False Creek Seawall, which is a perfect place for a pre-show stroll or cycle.

TIP #3: Unless you’re already a fan of Shakespeare and familiar with his works, consider reading up on the story before attending your show. Bard on the Beach is Shakespeare, with the original script written in Elizabethan English close to 400 years ago. If you read a synopsis in advance it can enhance your Bard on the Beach experience and understanding of the plot and script.

TIP #4: If you have problems sitting comfortably for long periods, take a blanket or cushion to sit on. The seats are good and typical for a theatre, but some folk will appreciate the extra padding.

 


Click Bard on the Beach for the festival’s official website.


 

About Bard on the Beach

Bard on the Beach was founded in 1990 by its present Artistic Director, Christopher Gaze. It has been entertaining Vancouver audiences ever since.

As a not-for-profit theatre, Bard on the Beach employs about thirty talented actors each year, plus a large team of theatrical wizards working behind the scenes. The staff are supported by an army of over 200 dedicated volunteers.

Since its beginning, over 1.5 million people have enjoyed the Bard on the Beach shows, including over 90,000 spectators per season in recent years.

 

Other Information

For more information and to buy tickets closer to the time, check out the official Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival website.

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