ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” the lovelorn Juliet types into her smartphone from her balcony. The object of her affections smiles as the message appears on his laptop screen…
So it’s Shakespeare, but with a little twist here and there, as Young Company Productions brings ‘Shakespeare by the Shore’ to the Oqwa'titek Amphitheatre at Annapolis Royal on Canada Day.
Rather than tackling one complete play from the quill of the Bard, the youngsters are bringing scenes and excerpts from several – Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, and Henry the Sixth Part 1.
And although the Elizabethan language and sentence structure of the scripts may at times be quite different from modern speech, the troupe of budding actors have enthusiastically accepted the challenge of bringing fresh meaning and insight to the immortal scribblings of the world’s most renowned play-wright.
Following on from Young Company’s excellent and thought-provoking MindShift presentation on and around Earth Day earlier this spring, the group’s committee was very happy to endorse a change of gear – from the challenges of addressing global climate change to comedy, history, and tragedy in iambic pentameter.
Flora Hall, Young Company’s chair, is delighted.
"William Shakespeare's plays have been performed on London, New York, and Stratford stages,” she said. “I am thrilled that Linda and Simon are bringing a cast of young actors to perform snippets of the Bard's well-known and loved plays to the Annapolis Royal amphitheatre on July 1 to celebrate Canada Day.”
It’s 'Shakespeare By The Shore.’
The production is co-directed by Shakespearean scholar and enthusiast Linda Hulme-Leahy, and Simon Bonnington, an experienced stage director with the Annapolis Drama Group. They bring a veritable meld of styles and wealth of knowledge to the production.
"As a die-hard Shakespeare nerd, being able to work with Young Company Productions' group of talented young actors is a slice of literary and theatrical heaven for me,” said Hulme-Leahy. “What's great about Shakespeare is his universality, and even though the language is 400 years old, it is thrilling and very impressive to see how these young people tackle it and unpack it with enthusiasm and commitment. His comedic and tragic themes are still alive and kicking, and to see these young people ranging in age anywhere from nine to 15 perform these vignettes with a refreshing, relatable modern take ... well, that's what Shakespeare's all about!"
The tag-team of directors has also received invaluable support from parents of the actors: in particular from Bleu Rae with her artwork skills and indomitable enthusiasm; Rion Microys for her assistance with crowns and donkey’s head; and county Warden Timothy Habinski, who has hand crafted an amazing array of wooden replica medieval weaponry – halberds and swords used in the martial clash between Joan of Arc and Charles, Dauphin of France.
“Linda and I are honoured to have this opportunity to help make Shakespeare accessible to these young actors … and the added bonus of sharing the Bard’s amazing word-craft with our community like this,” co-director Bonnington said. “An open air amphitheatre with a minimalist set – just as it would have been back in Shakespeare’s day. And with the breathtaking natural glory of the Annapolis Basin as the backdrop – it couldn’t be better.”
There will be performances at the Amphitheatre on Sunday, July 1, Canada Day, at 10.30 a.m. (prior to the civic gathering outside the Town Hall) and again at 2 p.m.