About Us

Bard on the Beach is Western Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare Festival. Presented in a magnificent setting on the waterfront in Vancouver’s Vanier Park/Sen̓ákw, the Festival offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas, and several special events in two performance tents from June through September. NOTE: Bard’s 2021 Season is being presented online due to the impact of COVID-19. The Festival will return to the Park in the summer of 2022. Register for Bard E-News to be among the first to receive Season announcements and updates.


Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park/Sen̓ákw  

A custom-built Mainstage Theatre tent offers modern, comfortable reserved seating (729-seat capacity) and a state-of-the-art sound system. The Mainstage tent is open-ended so the actors perform against a spectacular backdrop of mountains, sea and sky – a highlight of the unique Bard experience. The Festival’s large-scale productions are typically performed in repertory on the theatre’s BMO Mainstage from early June through late September.

The Douglas Campbell Theatre tent has 262 reserved seats and its two repertory productions typically run from the end of June through September on its Howard Family Stage, named in 2014 in honour of Vancouver arts philanthropists Darlene and Paul Howard. This intimate performance space hosts a mix of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, his classics presented with less traditional staging, and in recent years, contemporary plays with stories and themes that link to the Festival’s mission and mandate and actively explore today’s cultural and social landscape.

Both tents are located adjacent to the Bard Village, a lively gathering space for Bard theatre patrons to meet and chat with fellow Festival-goers, take in a range of educational events, enjoy concession and bar services and browse the Bard Boutique. The Village is open to patrons for one full hour prior to curtain. Bard also operates an online Boutique.

Bard is constantly expanding its educational programs and community outreach. It hosts Summer Camps at its Festival site for 8 to 18-year-olds during the Season as well as the Riotous Youth program, a paid internship for 19 to 24-year-olds.

NOTE: 2021 Education programs are offered both online and in limited in-person sessions for children and youth aged 4-18.

During the school term, the Festival also offers Bard in the Classroom workshops for students and teachers throughout BC’s Lower Mainland. Year-round education and training programs are also offered in Bard’s administrative home, the BMO Theatre Centre (162 West 1st Avenue) and online in 2021.

Bard Artistic Director and Founder Christopher Gaze spreads enthusiasm for the magic of Shakespeare’s plays through frequent guest appearances at corporate, scholastic and private events.

Bard also owns the most comprehensive theatrical costume collection in Western Canada. The collection supports Bard’s own productions and stock can also be rented by other theatre companies and educational institutions. Inquiries: email costumes@bardonthebeach.org

Bard is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. Charitable Registration #129644928 RR0001

 

History & Statistics

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival was established in 1990 with a mandate to provide Vancouver residents and tourists with affordable, accessible Shakespearean productions of the finest quality. The Festival began as an Equity Co-op, funded primarily by a Canada Council Explorations grant awarded to Artistic Director and Founder Christopher Gaze. It has grown into a fully professional, not-for-profit theatre company, engaging thirty actors each season as well as a team of exceptional directors, designers, and technicians; it is also supported by more than 350 volunteers. The productions consistently receive both critical and audience acclaim, and consistently play to sold-out houses.

Attendance at Bard on the Beach has grown dramatically over the years, from 6,000 in 1990 to 103,000 in 2019. Almost 2 million patrons have enjoyed the Bard experience over its 30+ seasons. Its operating budget has grown from $35,000 in 1990 to $7.5 million in 2019. The programming has expanded from one play to at least four each season, and from 34 performances in its inaugural year to over 200 in 2019.

Bard’s 2020 Festival season was cancelled due to COVID-19 and instead, it produced a range of digital content focused on Company members’ writing, performance and unique lived experiences. The 2021 in-person season was also cancelled due to COVID restrictions, and a Bard-commissioned play, Done/Undone (by Kate Besworth) was reimagined to become a feature film, shot on location at Burnaby, BC’s Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and offered online.