Back in April, Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival contacted us about a couple from Vancouver who were traveling over to complete the Shakespeare canon by seeing The Two Noble Kinsmen. A couple of weeks later they were featured in the Georgia Straight and we were able to catch up these Shakespeare lovers at the dress rehearsal for Equivocation to find out what it is about Shakespeare that keeps them coming back for more.

How did you get interested in Shakespeare/theatre and what do you enjoy about Shakespeare plays?

Amy: When I was in high school, my friend’s family took me to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for two summer seasons. My first live professional Shakespeare experience was Titus Andronicus, bloody, disturbing, and wonderful! I enjoy watching Shakespeare over and over because there is always something new that I get out of each play, depending on where I am in my own life and what is going on in the world. The themes are universal, and different directors can make Shakespeare so relevant to today’s audiences. I love seeing how they do it.

Dave: I first went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival when I was in high school – I remember a sweeping King Lear in 1985 – and 30 years later we go back to Ashland annually as part of an eccentric cabal of friends led by that same high school teacher. That week of theatre immersion (typically 11 plays) is a kind of annual anchor for us. It sounds like a cliche, but Shakespeare’s stories and characters, coming alive centuries later on diverse stages, really are timeless. For me, they never fail to illuminate history, current events, and interpersonal dynamics of the moment. 

Amy & David with Christopher Gaze at the dress rehearsal of Equivocation

What has been your favourite play at Bard or other festivals/theatres and why?

Amy: One of my favourite plays of all time is Bill Cain’s Equivocation. I had seen it twice when it premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and twice again when Seattle Repertory did it. I plan to see it twice here as well because there are so many things to think about and process. The second time is like seeing a completely different play. It’s fun to challenge your brain that way.

Dave: I don’t have a single favourite. Different plays strike me as funny or profound at different times of my life. However, there are beautifully crafted classics like Hamlet, Othello, and Richard III of which new productions and interpretations are always fun. I also appreciate seeing themes and events from antiquity and medieval times reflected in Shakespeare’s work, and in turn, to see cleverly derivative reflections of Shakespeare in all kinds of contemporary contexts.

David (centre) and Amy with their friend Harry Chesnin who joined them to complete the canon in Cincinnati!

What are you most looking forward to seeing this season at Bard and why?

Amy: I’m looking forward to seeing Cymbeline. I love seeing the plays that aren’t performed very often. I feel like directors and actors really put more into those plays and magic can happen. I’m excited to see how Imogen’s role as a woman will be interpreted by the amazing Rachel Cairns and director Anita Rochon.

Dave: I would have to agree: Cymbeline. It’s one of those plays that doesn’t come along very often, but when I’ve seen it in the past it gets filed in the “nice little play” category in my brain. And I agree that the more “obscure” plays are less laden with expectations and baggage, and more of a creative challenge that great actors and directors like those at Bard are always up for.

In May you travelled all the way to Cincinnati to complete the Shakespeare canon by seeing The Two Noble Kinsmen – congrats! How was the trip & the play?

Amy: Our trip to see Two Noble Kinsmen by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company was fabulous! It was the last play by William Shakespeare that we hadn’t yet seen on stage. I was a little wistful during the performance, realizing this would be the last time I’d probably hear Shakespeare’s words fresh. I didn’t read anything about the plot or do anything to prepare for it because I just wanted the experience of someone anytime in history coming in off the street to see a play by Shakespeare. It was funny, poignant, well acted and directed. Again, I was left wondering why this and other obscure plays from the canon are not performed more often. Here’s hoping we’ll see it again soon at Bard on the Beach!

Dave: We really had an unexpectedly fun weekend. Not only were the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company folks extremely kind and welcoming to us (they were intrigued that anyone would come from as far away as Canada), it turned out that Cincinnati is a hopping, spirited town. Having a goal like completing the canon was the only reason we discovered a cool new city. I hope that more Bard-lovers from across North America will discover Vancouver this way too!

Have you or has anyone you know completed the canon too? Let us know in the comments below!

[Header image: Shawn Macdonald, Anousha Alamian & Anton Lipovetsky in Equivocation by Bill Cain – photo by David Blue]