By Chari Grant

I chuckled to read a Georgia Straight interview with Scott Bellis who said he remembered auditioning for the first season of Bard in the basement of Christopher Gaze’s house. I remember being interviewed by Christopher and Bard’s general manager in the basement of that same house when I was hired as Bard’s first concession and gift shop manager. It was the spring of 1992 and I had just completed my first year of the Arts Management Co-op program at Douglas College. I had never been to Bard on the Beach, but I had definitely heard of it, and I was THRILLED at the opportunity to work for a Shakespearean theatre company.  Never mind that my job would consist of lots of  manual labour – like filling a 200 cup coffee urn from an outdoor faucet in Vanier Park and hauling cases of t-shirts, pop and Chocolate Bards into the concession and “gift shoppe” tent. It was exactly glamorous, but when I was offered the job I jumped at it. 

Christopher Gaze as Christopher Sly in The Taming of the Shrew 1993, with his dog Buffy who was in the show too! Photo by Chari GrantI spent two summers as the concession and gift shop manager at Bard. The hours were very long, but the time flew by as I spent my days with the merry band that made up the front of house and admin staff (all NINE of us), as well as the fabulous cast and crew, and a host of AMAZING dedicated Bard volunteers.

I have so many great memories from my time at Bard, but one that stands out is attending the 75th birthday party that Christopher Gaze held for the legendary Douglas Campbell.  Douglas was in town in the summer of 1993 as he directed both productions that year – Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. The party was at Christopher’s home, and it was a back yard barbeque with all the cast, crew, and staff. For his present, Douglas was presented with a magnificent hand-carved aboriginal Talking Stick. What else would you give someone who has everything on such a momentous occasion?  I can still hear Douglas’s booming voice as he gave an eloquent thank you speech that held all of us in rapt attention.

Looking back on it, the two summers that I spent working for Bard on the Beach were two of the best summers of my life. I can’t thank Christopher Gaze enough – both for creating the wonder that is Bard on the Beach, and for giving me an opportunity to be a part of it all those years ago. 

Read more memories on the blog over the next few weeks as part of our 25th anniversary season, and if you’d like help create another 25 years of memories, consider donating to our 25th anniversary campaign. Scott Bellis as Petruchio (left) and Dean Paul Gibson as Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew, 1993. Photo by Chari Grant.