When Alyssa Reynolds tweeted about coming to Bard for the first time this year we asked her if she would like to share her experience on our blog. We knew nothing about her – but now we do – and we also know what she thinks of us! Here is her take on Bard.

Alyssa standing in front of Kevin McAllister's 'Dream' setTell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m a 24 year old recent graduate of UVic with a BEd on top of my BA in English and Greek and Roman Studies. I aim to use it to continue my passion for travel by teaching in other countries of which England will be my first stop this autumn. I am also an aspiring novelist who is building experience, and a platform, through blogging and connecting with other creative individuals online. I am a lover of mythology, fantasy, steampunk, Victoriana photography and dark chocolate. 

What interested you in Shakespeare/coming to Bard on the Beach and what were you expecting?

As an English Literature major, Shakespeare has always had a special spot even if I do prefer Victorian-era novels and A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been a favourite, especially for its use of English and Greek mythology. I have known about Bard on the Beach since I was quite young as I had an old friend who used to go to at least a few performances every summer. I was expecting it to be slightly more outdoors and rustic than it was, as I have gone to the Caravan Farm Theatre in Armstrong for quite a few years now. I loved that it was so much like a typical indoor theatre and yet you still could feel very much outdoors because of the beautiful view of the park and water.

Can you give us a review of the performance you saw?
I’ve seen two stage productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which were great in their own ways, however their design stayed true to how it would have looked in Shakespeare’s time, or pared out large portions, such as the entire Pyramus and Thisbe segment in the last Act. The way this production played that particular scene out was definitely one of the many highlights as it is one of the few times when Shakespeare turns the lens back on the whole art of drama, acting and even the particular phrasing of words.

This production was brilliant in terms of staying true to Shakespeare’s words and his spirit. It added phrases, music, dance and a general burlesque theme that are so in tune with current cultural trends, I and the rest of the audience were constantly bent double in stitches. This was thanks to an elaborate design, the actor’s physicalities, the music and of course, even that oft pesky language which all touched things a modern audience could relate to just as Shakespeare’s use of the cultural trends in his day could be understood by his audience. I also enjoyed that it didn’t shy away from Shakespeare’s ability to have two or three meanings in one phrase that are often quite a bit more vulgar, or truthful, than what’s on the surface.

Alyssa and her friend get settled in to watch A Midsummer Night's DreamOverall, it was an inspired twist on a classic favourite that proves Shakespeare will never go out of style because his deep understanding of human design means the heart of the matter will always be understood, even if it currently dresses in corsets, stripped leggings, and tutus and is thrusting to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.”

What would you say to other Bard first-timers?
It’s in an absolutely stunning location that is easy to get to and a lovely walk, since it is right on the water. Newcomers should definitely come a bit early in order to enjoy the pre-show talk and meander in the tented plaza outside of the theatre or walk through the park a bit beforehand. It was quite warm as well which I hadn’t been expecting, being told to bring blankets. Perhaps all I would recommend is a good coat. Additionally, booking at least a month in advance, as the tickets understandably sell fast and allowed me to have more seating choices than had I waited until later.

Thank you Alyssa for sharing your experience with us and for our online readers – we’re so glad you enjoyed your first time at Bard! And thank you for your glowing review.

Is it your first time at Bard this season? Don’t be shy, leave us a comment below and let us know what you think!

[Header image: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by David Blue]