Canada

bard on beachCreativecommons.org/Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

The Stratford Festival has a simple goal: To set the standard for classical theatre – and they achieve that on a yearly basis.

The company has been built by searching for the finest talent available and cultivating skill and passion. In this way they have been producing amazing theatre for more than half a century. April through September the company puts on 12 productions, most of them classic works by Shakespeare. This season the themes of the plays revolve around situations that push characters to the edge such as war and family.

As expected from a high-quality theatre group, the Stratford Festival also has several educational opportunities. Resources for educators and theatre professionals are extraordinary, as is the classical theatre training program.

The Freewill Shakespeare Festival runs for four weeks in June and July, normally presenting two classic plays during this time.

In addition to the yearly festival, the Free Will Players offer classes and camps that focus on Shakespearean themes and theatrical techniques such as stage fighting.

The Free Will Players strive to create accessible and memorable productions of Shakespeare’s works in an outdoor setting. They employ artistic interpretations to relate the universal themes of the bard to modern audiences that may not easily see the connection between Elizabethan England and the world today.

Most years the productions take place in the Heritage Amphitheatre at William Hawrelek Park in Edmonton, Alberta.

Dedicated to exploring the brilliance of Shakespeare, Bard on the Beach puts on a summer festival that runs through September and allows you to see four separate plays in one week. Along with great theatre, guests can enjoy fireworks, in-depth lectures about Shakespeare, arias inspired by the bard’s greatest works and wine tasting events. See the lighter side of classical theatre at Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical and find out what Shakespeare’s Broadway musical might have sounded like. Check out the swordplay at Fight Night if you’re craving a little excitement or the EnChor Choir for some participatory singing.

Bard on the Beach takes place in Vanier Park in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

United States

oregonCreativecommons.org/ Clyde Adams III

Almost every state has one or two festivals each year, but the summer-long event in Ashland, Oregon is one of the best in the country. From February to November the Oregon Shakespeare Festival puts on 11 plays and numerous other activities. Theatre lovers can schedule as many as nine plays in a single week if they choose.

In addition to three or four plays by Shakespeare, the professional company of 500 members puts on productions by other classic playwrights and includes a few modern pieces too. Popular shows sell out a few days before the performance, but rarely is every performance sold out in all three theatres. Classes, backstage tours and play readings also take place during the festival.

Ashland is midway between Medford Oregon and the California/Oregon border.

Devoted entirely to works by the Bard, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival opens in April with a single, special performance followed by the three main plays shown throughout July. Summer educational camps for students and young adults take place in June and cover many aspects of drama and acting.

To see what real artistry is all about, attend one of the “Improvised Shakespeare Company” productions. Nothing is planned, described or rehearsed before the players walk on stage and start performing. The entire show is created on the spot – sometimes with hilarious results.

The Festival takes place in Normal, Illinois, south of Chicago.

New York’s Central Park provides the venue for Free Shakespeare in the Park. The Delacorte theatre presents two plays a year through June, July and August, playing to a full house every night. Tens of thousands of tickets are given away during the summer and are only available the day of the performance. People line up as early as 6am, hoping to get two of the available tickets for the show - and Shakespeare in the Park limits each individual to only two shows a season.

Shakespeare in the Park is a summer production of the Public Theater, an organization dedicated to providing accessible theatre to as large and diverse an audience as possible.

Hot, sunny southern Utah isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about Shakespeare, but for four months in summer, the Utah Shakespeare Festival shows us that Elizabethan England is alive and well. Two theatres with three stages show two performances a day, often with additional events scheduled around them. Seminars, tours, classes and other events ensure that that no one will be bored and the fast schedule of performances lets you see every play in just three days.

The theatre is on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, located in the southwest corner of the state.

United Kingdom

stratfordCreativecommons.org/Julia Hiltscher

The Open Air Theatre at London’s Reagent’s Park puts on an innovative adaptation of a Shakespeare classic every summer in the open air theatre. The unpredictability of the weather and the large yet intimate auditorium work together to create a unique performance every night. Thousands of visitors every year can attest to the charm and talent on display for one month every summer.

The Royal Shakespeare Company puts on a yearly summer event at Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic hometown of William Shakespeare. Four classic plays by the Bard are presented along with more modern productions. The company use their passion and creativity to present the plays in a novel, yet authentic way, so that they speak to a modern audience.

As you watch the performances there, take note of the gauntlets and weaponry – the RSC has its own on-site armory and creates these by hand, honouring the history of the performance in the design of the prop.

Stratford-upon-Avon is in the heart of England.

Stamford Shakespeare has perhaps the best setting for capturing the era of the Bard’s works. The Rutland Open Air Theatre is on the grounds of the historic Tolethorpe Hall, an 11th century manor house.

Three plays are being presented this season; two classical works by Shakespeare and a more modern piece. One play is performed each week from June through the end of August with productions alternating among weeks.

Tolethorpe hall is north of Stamford, just off the A1.

Australia

Stratford plays host to the annual Shakespeare on the River Festival that has grown from presenting a single play to over 20 events performed over three weeks. The event opens with madrigal singers and lots of food followed by five Shakespearean plays by five different companies. Exhibitions, buskers, children’s games and musical groups also contribute to the festival.

Productions take place in several venues around town and street musicians can be found almost anywhere. Stratford is east of Melbourne on the A1.

Europe

A theatre on a racecourse seems a bit unconventional, but the little Globe theatre at Neuss in Germany has been home to a Shakespeare Festival for more than 20 years. The festival runs for a full four weeks beginning in late July, and five Shakespearean plays are presented in English. A number of other events take place in German and are interspersed throughout the performances.

Neuss is north of Cologne and southwest of Dusseldorf and is easily reached by public transportation.

Eastern Europe

The Czech-Slovak Summer Shakespeare Festival crosses cultures to bring the bard to life. From late June to early September performances take place in the Prague Castle, Lesser Town Square (Prague), Špilberk Castle (Brno), Slezskoostravský Castle (Ostrava) and Bratislava Castle. More than 85,000 visitors attend every year making this the largest Shakespeare festival in Eastern Europe.

 

 

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