She’s three months into the job, moving quickly towards our biggest season yet, so we thought it was time to find out what Managing Director Claire Sakaki thinks of Bard!

What are 5 things that surprised you about Bard?
I was surprised – and delighted – that so many people have a personal ‘Bard Story’. From avid theatre-goers that faithfully see every play, every summer – to couples who had their first date at Bard – to families who attend the Fireworks night together every year even after the children have grown up and moved out – everyone I encounter seems to have a special connection to Bard on the Beach. It is more than just a theatre company; it really is a Vancouver community institution!

I knew I would get to be surrounded by Shakespeare’s wonderful plays but I didn’t expect there to be so much more! Sword-fighting, improvised musicals based on Shakespeare’s plays, choral performances, beer and wine tastings, and a symphony orchestra – all on our stage throughout the summer in beautiful Vanier Park.

Managing Director of Bard on the Beach Claire SakakiI was incredibly surprised by the response of young people to Shakespeare here in Vancouver. The number of student group bookings is staggering and the Young Shakespearean Workshops are sold out, with a waiting list. It is wonderful to see such a positive and enthusiastic response from students to Shakespeare in particular – and theatre in general.

Cymbeline was not necessarily a ‘surprise’ but it is something that I learned about once I arrived at Bard. I have attended and even produced many Shakespeare plays over many years, but have never encountered Cymbeline. What a thrilling and rich play! It feels like a cross between As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear! I hope audiences don’t miss the chance to see this relatively unknown gem, especially in Anita’s exciting and very theatrical adaptation.

I knew that Bard had a group of dedicated volunteers – but I had no idea about how many there were and how dedicated they are! It blew me away when I found out that the volunteer corps is over 200 strong, and many have been volunteering for over a decade, some even for the full 25 years! Many have full time jobs, full time families and tons of interests, but they make time for Bard every summer and we couldn’t do it without them. Many even take on additional volunteer duties as part of the ‘Bard Green Team’, taking care of all the beautiful plants and flowers on site all summer. I plan on watering alongside them this year, in hopes of turning my thumbs “green”.

What is the one thing you’re looking forward to the most this season?
I am most looking forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary with the people who have made Bard such a success – our patrons, volunteers, supporters, staff and artists. I love the fact that we are celebrating our anniversary by showcasing both our past as well as our future. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we are bringing back the beloved play that started the Festival in 1990 – in a wildly successful production that was first seen in 2006. Same with The Tempest, it is a re-imagining of the exhilarating 2008 production, taking all the best elements and adding even more music, magic and splendour. But 2014 will also be an exciting look at our future – a bold re-imagining of the lesser-known Cymbeline, along with a new play about Shakespeare, Equivocation. I think it is very exciting that Christopher is exposing our audiences to new plays that will enrich our understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s canon and offer a different perspective and experience. I know this is a broad answer to a specific question – but the one thing I am most looking forward to in the season, is the season itself!