Fredericton’s outdoor Shakespeare theatre company will stage productions of As You Like It and Julius Caesar this summer.
After having its 2020 season wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, and staging a slightly scaled down and COVID-cautious production of The Tempest in 2021, Bard in the Barracks theatre company is coming back in a big way, staging an ambitious season with two new productions of Shakespeare’s best-known works. Staged in two starkly different locations in Fredericton, but both employing the company’s signature site-specific promenade style through which the audience follows the action between different locations rather than watching from one fixed spot, the plays will run the gamut of Shakespearean styles, from dark tragedy to romantic comedy.
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s famous tragedy of political intrigue, conspiracy, and revolution, will be performed on the streets surrounding the provincial legislature in a production inspired by recent world politics, the war in Ukraine, and the anti-COVID mandates convoy protests.
“Unfortunately, authoritarianism and populism have been having quite a moment on the world stage in the last while,” says Bard Artistic Director Len Falkenstein, who will also direct the production. “Nothing is ever new in politics, and in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare depicted the clash between authoritarianism and a form of democracy with an accuracy that is eerily relevant to the times we’re living in now.”
With the company’s traditional downtown home in Barracks Square under construction this year, the production will be a highly immersive one that will travel through and turn into surprisingly theatrical stages some of the nooks and crannies of the downtown core that Frederictonians typically take for granted.
Meanwhile, the much-loved pastoral romantic comedy As You Like It, about a group of nomads who flee oppression in the city and find freedom and love in the country, will be staged amid the wild and pleasant greenery of sprawling Odell Park and directed by Tilly Jackson, a long-time Bard in the Barracks actor.
The play might make audiences think, says Falkenstein, about one of the pandemic’s most notable demographic side effects: the flight of many urbanites to the country, including the Maritimes.
“That, or the recent vogue for anything homespun,” he said. “Or Hallmark Christmas movies?”
Bard in the Barracks has benefitted from that very phenomenon, he notes, as this year’s productions will feature some performers from the company’s past who have moved back to the province from larger centres.
Julius Caesar and As You Like It will run in repertory from June 17-July 3, with a performance schedule and ticket information coming soon.
For more information on the productions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.