Guest Post by Roanne Ward

It’s only January but it feels like summer is just around the corner with the buzz going on in the Bard office! I’ve just returned from a month in Central America and now I’m refreshed and ready to jump into getting our 25th Anniversary season ready.

I’d hoped to take in some live local theatre while I was away. But alas it wasn’t to be, until…

Picture me anxiously waiting in line for customs clearance in Houston, Texas, on my journey back home. The customs officer finally asks me to step forward and starts firing off the usual questions: “Where do you live?” “What were you doing on your trip?” And “what work do you do in Vancouver?”

“I work for a Shakespeare Festival” I answer. “Oh! Shakespeare!” the officer replies, visibly perking up before he asks me to place my four fingers on the glass and look straight into the camera.

And then, seizing the moment, he begins…Claire Danes as Juliet (and above with Leonardo Dicaprio as Romeo) in Baz Luhrmann's 1996, film version of Romeo and Juliet

‘But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
 It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.

 It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing; what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek! 

I stood there with my jaw dropped, watching and listening in disbelief. In his thick, Texan drawl the officer had recited the entire balcony-scene monologue from Romeo and Juliet! And then, he nervously asked: “Was that right?” I was too awestruck to even consider critiquing his performance and replied with an affirming “yes!” I looked back and realized that his performance had reached the entire line up of laughing, smiling travelers and the usual tension that fills an area like this had completely diminished.

As I walked through to my gate I found myself wondering – could that have been the strangest location ever for a Shakespeare performance? But perhaps you can top that story. What is the most unexpected place you’ve seen Shakespeare performed live?