For Canadian theatre-goers, summer means Shakespeare! Across Canada, festivals will perform the Bard’s plays for audiences in venues from Stratford’s Festival Theatre to your local park. Whether you prefer the fall of the tragic hero or a light-hearted bit of mistaken identity and cross-dressing, here’s where to get your Shakespeare fix this summer.
Shakespeare by the Sea (St. John’s, NL)
The Taming of The Shrew, All’s Well that Ends Well, and plays by other playwrights
If you want to bring the kids to appreciate the Bard, check out the free Shake it Up! at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market. Billed as “short and snappy Shakespeare for all,” the production includes “quick and quirky performances” of Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Romeo & Juliet, twice each Saturday.
July 5 to August 18. Many shows free, some $25. www.shakespearebytheseafestival.com, 709-722-7287
Shakespeare in the Park (Montreal, QC)
Each summer, Repercussion Theatre tours the parks of the Montreal area with a single free Shakespeare play. This year, they’re trying something different: Harry the King: Famous Victories of Henry V is adapted from Henry IV pt. 1, pt. 2 and Henry V.
July 4 to August 2, pay wha you can. www.repercussiontheatre.com, 514-931-2644
St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival (Prescott, ON)
The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Hamlet
On August 2, this festival hosts Shakespeare’s Globe in its Canadian premiere as part of their two-year round-the-world tour of Hamlet. Unfortunately, tickets sold out in less than an hour. But you can still catch one of the four Sunday Series for an afternoon of music, comedy, and theatre, in addition to the two regular productions.
July 12 to August 16, $20 to $28 with pay-what-you-can previews. 613-925-5788, www.stlawrenceshakespeare.ca
Shakespeare in High Park (Toronto, ON)
As You Like It and Titus Andronicus
The Canadian Stage offers both light-hearted and lurid fare at the High Park Amphitheatre this summer. You can show up the night of the performance and pay what you can at the gate, but you may want to pay the $25 donation to reserve a premium spot – shows have already started selling out.
June 26 to August 31, pay what you can. www.canadianstage.com, 416-368-3110
The Stratford Festival (Stratford, ON)
King Lear, Antony & Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King John, as well as plays by other playwrights
Inaugurated in 1952, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival remains Canada’s top destination for Shakespeare, even as it has expanded into other theatre. This year, actors include Colm Feore and Geraint Wyn Davies in both Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean roles.
May 26 to October 12, $25 to $123 (many deals available). www.stratfordfestival.ca, 1-800-567-1600
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK)
Romeo & Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew
On the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, this festival and its “Billy Tent” host pre-show chats, post-show talkbacks, and even dinner theatre packages including medieval feasts and pizza nights with its Shakespeare.
July 9 to August 24, $10 to $34 (more for meals). www.shakespeareonthesaskatchewan.com, 306-652-9100
Shakespeare by the Bow (Calgary, AB)
The Comedy of Errors
This outdoor Shakespeare festival was nearly washed away in last year’s floods, but the show still went on! As a mentorship program for actors at the beginning of their careers, all donations from performances go towards supporting this tenacious endeavour.
June 25 to August 9, pay what you can. www.theatrecalgary.com
Freewill Shakespeare Festival (Edmonton, AB)
The Taming of the Shrew
This year, Freewill hosts its festival at the University of Alberta while its usual outdoor venue undergoes repairs. Though that means a smaller festival this year, it will be back in 2015 with two productions and resumed Camp Shakespeare.
July 9 to 27, $20 to $30 with pay what you can previews. www.freewillshakespeare.com, 780-425-8086
Bard on the Beach (Vancouver, BC)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Cymbeline, and plays by other playwrights
In addition to the Bard’s plays, this festival has a host of events including (but not limited to!) beer and wine tastings, talks and lectures, sword fighting demonstrations, musical events with the UBC Opera Ensemble, EnChor Choir, Grand Theft Impro, and the VSO, and the popular Bard-B-Q and fireworks.
June 11 to September 20, $27 to $47 for plays; multi-show discounts available. www.bardonthebeach.org, 1-877-739-0559