Bard in the Barracks Open 2019 Season This Week

Category: stage 117

Fredericton’s Shakespeare in the Park series will run two productions, both set in the 20th century, from June 21 to July 7.

Matt Carter
Cast members of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo: Matt Carter

Fredericton is full of summer traditions. From the many concerts and festivals that take place throughout the city’s parks to the recently established Garrison Night Market, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes and interests when the warm weather hits.

Bard in the Barracks has been staging the works of William Shakespeare in the downtown district now for more than 12 seasons. Since its inaugural production of Much Ado About Nothing in 2006, the company has produced numerous Shakespeare plays often running two productions each season with performances split between Barracks Square and Odell Park.

John Ball, a professor of English at the University of New Brunswick, has been involved in the city’s theatre community for several years and holds the record for acting in the most Bard productions. This year he will be acting in one production while directing the other.

“I’ve been in every Bard production but one,” said Ball. “I’ve definitely acted in the most. I missed when we did A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2009 so I’m happy to get to act in it this year.”

An avid actor, director, playwright and supporter of local theatre having performed with numerous companies over the years, Ball will make his Bard in the Barracks directorial debut this season with the company’s production of Measure For Measure.

John Ball in rehearsal.

“I’ve directed this play before but that was with a class at UNB a long time ago. I’ve also acted in the play as an undergrad so I know it really well. It was a natural choice for me and it’s an honour to get to direct it now for Bard,” he said.

Both the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University have strong theatre programs and produce plays throughout the school year. So in addition to being a pillar of the city’s outdoor summer activities, Bard in the Barracks provides a valuable opportunity for many emerging actors to strengthen their craft outside of the school year.

“We have some very, very good actors this year,” said Ball. “Both shows have a lot of talent who have brought new interpretations of characters that I thought I knew from all the productions I have seen or directed. To see new, fresh readings of some of the scenes by certain actors is really exciting to see.”

This season, Bard in the Barracks will perform productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure For Measure, both with a distinctly modern twist. Odell Park will play host to a 50’s Hollywood Glamour take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by festival founder Len Falkenstein, and Ball will direct a 1960s themed adaptation of Measure For Measure.

“The 60s theme was my idea,” said Ball. “I was going to do it as a contemporary play to suggest the contemporariness of the themes but I was also thinking of the 60s as a time when mores around sexuality, justice and gender were all shifting. This allowed room to place some of the characters as being stuck in the 50s ethos and others heading into the 70s, so everything is in transition. The characters can easily be interpreted that way. And I think it will also just be fun for the audience.”

Bard in the Barracks opens its 2019 season this weekend.  Tickets for all performances are now on sale and available by visiting bardinthebarracks.com

Upcoming Performances:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
June 22 (Pay-What-You-Wish preview)
June 25
June 27
June 29
June 30 *Twinbill Shakespeare Sunday
July 2
July 4
July 6
July 7 *Twinbill Shakespeare Sunday

Measure For Measure
June 21 (Pay-What-You-Will preview)
June 23
June 26
June 28
June 30 *Twinbill Shakespeare Sunday
July 3
July 5
July 7 *Twinbill Shakespeare Sunday

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m., but patrons should arrive at the park by 7:15 p.m.

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