This season we’re lucky to have a fantastic Company of actors, both returning and new. Bard is a unique experience for any actor, as both casts perform two shows at the same time – not to mention it all happens to be outside in a tent! Josh Epstein is back this year for his fourth season, performing in The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost, after spending time performing out east and working on other projects including his film Eadweard (with fellow Bard alumni Kyle Rideout). It’s been a while since we’ve had him back at Bard, so we took the chance to catch up with Josh and hear about his summer!
Bard: How many seasons have you performed at Bard?
This is my 4th season, but I haven’t been here since 2005! Since then I have mostly been out East – I spent two years each at the Stratford and Charlottetown Festivals. My first season with Bard was in 2001, in Dean Paul Gibson’s directorial debut!
Bard: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about rehearsing and performing Shakespeare?
I love the work you can do on Shakespeare but I also can appreciate the T.S. Elliot quote, “A poem can be communicated before it is understood…”
After my gut instincts play around with the words, then I hit the books working the rhetoric, finding my useful modifiers and qualifiers. Martha Henry has had a huge influence on how I speak the language and I definitely love working the traditional Shakespeare techniques before I add my own quirks. Then I build the stakes up and hope to know what I’m saying so well that I can run the words, tactics and my physicality like a pinball: quick, nimble and constantly switching directions.
Bard: Are there any moments audiences should look for when watching The Comedy of Errors or Love’s Labour’s Lost?
Having a soliloquy in a Shakespeare play is an absolute gift. Definitely my favourite part of Love’s Labour’s Lost is talking directly to the audience. This crowd is educated and usually they’ve had a decade of Bard experiences. You can always see it in their faces as they’re willing to follow you anywhere.
Bard: How was the experience of rehearsing for a musical adaptation like Love’s Labour’s Lost different from that of The Comedy of Errors?
With Love’s Labour’s Lost we had to do a ton of our script work on our own, as rehearsal time was needed for learning music and choreography. It was quite the undertaking. Basically it was like doing two shows – as there’s approximately 2 hours of Shakespeare and 40 minutes of dancing and singing. I don’t know of any shows that have that combination. The Comedy of Errors without all the music and being one of the shorter plays, felt like we had about 2 weeks more of rehearsal. In the end, no matter how much time you have you always get where you need to be by opening!
Bard: What do you think makes Bard on the Beach special?
There’s truly no place on earth like Bard on the Beach. Professional high quality Shakespeare combined with one of the most gorgeous backdrops in the world. There’s no place I’d rather spend my time. The actors are what make it unique, though, and because it’s such a sought after job, Bard is always full of some of the finest actors in Western Canada – and usually some of the funniest.
A very happy ending indeed – audience members were delighted when Josh proposed to his wonderful girlfriend live on the Howard Family Stage following their performance on July 31 (she said yes). Congratulations, Josh!
See Josh in The Comedy of Errors on the BMO Mainstage and in Love’s Labour’s Lost on the Howard Family Stage until the end of September. Buy tickets online at bardonthebeach.org or call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559.Header photo credit: Jay Hindle, Josh Epstein & Daniel Doheny, Love’s Labour’s Lost, 2015 (Photo by David Blue)