A New Season of Shakespeare Begins

Category: stage 271

Bard in the Barracks Theatre Company start a new season of outdoor theatre this week with shows in Barracks Square and Odell Park. 

Richard III and his army prepare for battle in Odell Park. Photo: Matt Carter

Bard in the Barracks Theatre Company begin a new season of performances this week as public spaces become public stages hosting two of Shakespeare’s most recognized stories. This year’s program will see downtown Fredericton’s Barracks Square casemates transformed into a busy streetscape as the company presents The Comedy of Errors, June 22 – July 2. And Odell Park will once again be the stage for another epic outdoor adventure as Richard III plays out amidst the park’s many pathways and hidden spaces.

“Rehearsals have been going fast and furious, and the plays are taking shape remarkably well,” said director Len Falkenstein, who has been at the helm of Fredericton’s annual Shakespeare in the park productions from the get-go. This year’s shows involve more than 20 actors delivering everything from slapstick comedy to epic fight scenes. “It’s definitely a challenge working with such large casts but with this particular group of actors the tradeoff is that they are all very smart and very talented. They don’t need a lot of helping understanding what’s going on, and they have a great ability to intuit what the scenes need and who their characters are and bring those elements to what we’re working on without my even needing to ask. It makes for a great collaborative process.”

The cast for both productions have been in rehearsal for the past month meeting multiple nights each week for sectional rehearsals, reviewing fight scene choreography, costume fittings and getting a feel for the on-site locations for both these productions.

The Comedy of Errors involves a cast of 16 actors with an approximate running time of 90 minutes. Richard III will be told by more than 20 actors over a 2.5 hour performance as cast and audience move throughout the park together as the story unfolds.

“I think The Comedy of Errors is going to be an incredibly fun, funny, fast-paced, breezy style of show that will be great to just sit back and take in,” said Falkenstein. “The visuals of it, with our colourful costumes and set, are going to look fantastic, and our setting in Barracks Square is going to work perfectly for the show.  

“Richard III, on the other hand, will be a complete contrast, a show in which the audience will be actively engaged as the action happens all around them in surprising ways. They are going to be quite sucked into the vortex of the whirlwind that is Richard, his plots and schemes, the crazy place that is his mind. Denise Richard’s costumes are going to be amazing, and I’m especially looking forward to the play’s finale, when we recreate the battle of Bosworth Field with a cast of 20 sword fighting on the field by Odell Park Lodge after dark. It’s going to be spectacular,” he said.

After more than ten years of outdoor Shakespeare performances, Falkenstein continues to find each new season as exciting as the last.

“I’m obviously biased, but I think that every year Bard in the Barracks offers the most exciting and unique theatrical experience in Fredericton,” he said. “Nowhere else do you get to experience theatre outdoors, unprotected from the elements, immersed in the show and amid the sights, smells, and sounds of the city at night. And this year, staging two brand new shows of such different styles happening in two completely different locations, that’s something we’ve never done before. It really is a season that has something for everyone, and we hope many people join us for both productions.”

As with all Bard in the Barracks shows, audiences are encouraged to bring a cushion or blanket, pack a snack (and maybe some bug spray) and enjoy the experience.

The Comedy of Errors: June 22 – July 2 in Barracks Square

Richard III: June 25 – July 9 in Odell Park.

Check out www.bardinthebarracks.com for complete details including show times, ticket info and FAQ.

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