Shakespeare in Love

Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard
Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall | Music by Paddy Cunneen

June 12 – September 18 · BMO Mainstage

Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block. The deadline for his new play is looming and he’s in desperate need of inspiration. And then he finds his muse – Viola. She’s Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his next play. Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms but their road to romance runs into plenty of complications, from nefarious schemers to overheated backstage theatrics. And then there’s the dog…

Directed by Citadel Theatre Artistic Director Daryl Cloran, returning to Bard after directing our 2018 Season’s record-breaking Beatles-music-filled As You Like It.

Cory Sincennes, Set & Costume Designer; Gerald King, Lighting Designer; Mishelle Cuttler, Sound Designer/Music Director; Julie Tomaino, Choreographer; Jonathan Hawley Purvis, Fight Director; Alison Matthews, Head Voice & Text Coach

This production was originally conceived at the Citadel Theatre, Edmonton. It is written in contemporary English, with occasional text excerpts from Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Production Sponsor

Photo Credit: Charlie Gallant as Will Shakespeare & Ghazal Azarbad as Viola Photo & Image Design: Emily Cooper

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12June Wednesday 7:30PM
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13June Thursday 1:00PM
Student Matinee
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18June Tuesday 7:30PM
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19June Wednesday 7:30PM
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20June Thursday 7:30PM
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21June Friday 7:30PM
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22June Saturday 2:00PM
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22June Saturday 7:30PM
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27June Thursday 7:30PM
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28June Friday 7:30PM
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4July Thursday 7:30PM
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5July Friday 7:30PM
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7July Sunday 2:00PM
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7July Sunday 7:30PM
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10July Wednesday 7:30PM
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16July Tuesday 7:30PM
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17July Wednesday 7:30PM
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20July Saturday 2:00PM
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20July Saturday 7:30PM
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25July Thursday 7:30PM
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26July Friday 7:30PM
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27July Saturday 5:00PM
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30July Tuesday 7:30PM
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6August Tuesday 7:30PM
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7August Wednesday 7:30PM
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11August Sunday 2:00PM
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11August Sunday 7:30PM
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13August Tuesday 7:30PM
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14August Wednesday 7:30PM
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17August Saturday 2:00PM
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17August Saturday 7:30PM
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21August Wednesday 7:30PM
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22August Thursday 7:30PM
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23August Friday 7:30PM
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27August Tuesday 7:30PM
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28August Wednesday 7:30PM
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31August Saturday 2:00PM
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31August Saturday 7:30PM
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5September Thursday 7:30PM
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6September Friday 7:30PM
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13September Friday 1:00PM
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13September Friday 7:30PM
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14September Saturday 7:30PM
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18September Wednesday 1:00PM
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18September Wednesday 7:30PM
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The Story

WRITER’S BLOCK
Will Shakespeare, an emerging playwright, has writer’s block. He is struggling to complete his new work, Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter, before the Rose Theatre’s deadline. He needs inspiration and is desperate to rival the success of his friend and fellow playwright, Kit Marlowe. Meanwhile, another acting company steals and performs one of Will’s plays, adding a dog and gaining the attention of Queen Elizabeth I. The Rose’s owner, Philip Henslowe, needs Will’s new production to settle his debts to Hugh Fennyman. Henslowe pressures Will to hold auditions to get the process moving.

A WOMAN IN DISGUISE
Viola de Lesseps is a young gentlewoman from a wealthy family. She longs to be on stage, but only men are allowed to act. She disguises herself as Thomas Kent and auditions for the part of Romeo in Will’s new play.

A LOVE AFFAIR
Mesmerized by Viola/Kent’s audition, Will follows her home. He leaves a letter with her nurse offering Kent the role of Romeo. While at the house, Will sneaks into the de Lesseps’ ball where Viola’s father is arranging her engagement to Lord Wessex, who is titled but has no money. Not recognizing Viola as Thomas Kent, Will becomes infatuated when he dances with her. He later goes to her balcony to profess his love. Viola/Kent attends rehearsals for the play and Will eventually discovers her true identity. They fall in love and begin a secret affair. Viola becomes Will’s muse and he is inspired to write again.

THE QUEEN’S COURT
Wessex brings Viola before the court to seek the Queen’s approval for their engagement. The three of them debate whether a play can capture the true nature of love, and a bet is proposed to settle the matter, with the Queen as judge.

CLOSED BEFORE OPENING
While out for a drink with the cast, Viola/Kent learns that Will has a wife and children. He tries to explain but she rejects his excuses and runs off. Viola reappears as Kent for final rehearsals, but her secret is exposed, and the Rose is shut down for having a woman on stage. With no theatre and a wedding fast approaching, what will become of the production, the actors and the lovers?

Director's Notes

HENSLOWE: Let me explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster… But it always works out in the end.
FENNYMAN: How?
HENSLOWE: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

I have been drawn to theatre all my life because of its collaborative nature. So many other art forms are solitary – a novelist sitting alone at her computer, a painter alone at his canvas – but theatre is built by a community of artists coming together and imagining the impossible. And somehow, no matter how big the obstacle, by opening night it all magically
comes together.

While Shakespeare in Love is a beautiful love story, it is also the story of an ensemble of actors and outcasts coming together to defy all odds and create something beautiful. They break the rules, and reimagine who is allowed to participate in the storytelling, and the story becomes richer for it. And we too, have come together with the very same intention, to create something beautiful for you. You are an integral part of that. Without you in the audience, there would be no production. We are creating this together. That’s the profound thing about theatre – we all come together in a space, for a moment, to create something that will never be exactly the same. It is ephemeral and magical. And it is why I keep coming back.

I’m writing this note before we’ve even started rehearsals. There are months of exploration and discovery and magic ahead of us to create the production you’re about to watch. I know what it all looks like in my head, but when I get in the room with this incredible company of actors and designers, it will be made all the more magnificent by the collaboration of all the artists. There will be moments where it feels triumphant and moments where it feels impossible. But somehow, it will make it to opening night, and the production you’re about to watch. Henslowe’s right, sometimes “it’s a mystery” how it all comes together. And that’s the magic of theatre.

Enjoy the show!

Daryl Cloran