The stage is set for Victoria’s Shakespeare by the Sea and organizers are hoping their new location at Fisherman’s Wharf Park will stick for several years to come.
Now in its fifth year, the festival has moved to five different locations for a variety of reasons. The first year it kicked off at Holland Point, which was soon labelled an ecologically sensitive area. The festival then moved to Clover Point, where it continued for two-and-a-half years before strong winds blew some of the tents over.
Last year was spent on the barge at Ogden Point, but organizers couldn’t afford to stay there. Now, Steve Duck, executive director of the Vancouver Island Shakespeare Arts Society, believes they may have found a winner.
“We think it will be a fortuitous move for presentation and access to the community,” said Duck. “Even those five years of moving the production, we continue to grow our audience.”
Victoria’s Shakespeare by the Sea features three performances — Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and a locally-written Shakespeare-inspired play, Richard the Lionhearted. Othello is a tragedy that revolves around two themes — envy and jealousy. Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play that combines elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honour, shame and court politics.
The festival involves 50 local performers who’ve been honing their craft in a number of other productions throughout the community. All plays are performed in Shakespearean English, but due to the quality of the writing, Duck said you don’t have to understand every word to comprehend what’s going on.
Running an event management company, Duck admits he’s not a theatre expert, but seeing the festival evolve over the years has been a wonder to watch.
“There is a dedication and a passion for the craft that’s been exhibited by both the art director and the cast, many of whom have been with us for five years,” said Duck, adding the festival’s artistic director showcases the quality of Shakespeare’s writing.
“The audience that hasn’t experienced Shakespeare, they are surprised because they get a new interpretation of it. It’s not set in what people perceive would be an old writing, but more because of the uniqueness of his writing quality, they walk away with an impression of uniqueness in what he presented.”
The festival runs June 28 to Aug. 7 with shows every evening at 7 p.m., except Monday. Matinees will take place Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at VictoriaTicket.ca or in person at the visitor centre at 812 Wharf Street.
For more information on specific shows visit the VIShakespeareArts page on Facebook.