The Bard on the Beach

Dear Liza,

The Burrard Bridge after dark

Did you know they perform Shakespeare here in Canada? It makes sense, really. Canada was part of England (in the same way America used to be) for a long time, and Shakespeare himself was English.

So, of course, we went to see it! To get there, we walked across the Burrard Bridge. This bridge was built in 1932 and dedicated to an English Military hero. It is beautiful for walking, and nicely lit by large, bonfire-colored lamps, which were designed to honor the World War One soldiers who kept warm by bonfires.

Lovely, flickering lanterns

Across the bridge we found Vanier Park, which has a small astronomical observatory and, for the summer, giant tents! The Bard in the Beach is really a Shakespeare performance in these tents. The play we were there to see was The Taming of the Shrew.

Where the magic happens

Many directors will set Shakespeare plays in different times and places, and this time, Katarina and Petruccio were battling it out in the old American West of 1870….yep, Padua City, West of the Pecos.

Poster gives you the idea….

You know I didn’t take pictures during the performance, because that is rude, but the sets and costumes were delightfully rustic, and the dialogue changed just enough to give it a western flair. For example, when Bianca’s suitors were bragging about their wealth, Lucentio said his father owned three railroads that went straight from Pisa to San Francisco!

But the changes that made it fabulous were mostly what wasn’t said… the gestures and personalities of even the smallest bit player. One of the characters, who was a musician, hid behind his tuba during a gunfight.

The set of Padua City, 1870

But for me, the best bit of re-interpretation was that Kate’s “taming” was a ruse, a trick agreed upon by her and Petruccio. It was well played and hysterical, with our two newlyweds collecting the money from Petruccio’s bet about whose wife would be most obedient, and rode off like bandits. It was laugh-out-loud funny.

When the play was over and we had clapped ourselves silly, we walked back across the bridge and enjoyed the lights of the city under the cloudy skies.

Vancouver skyline at night


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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