If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you won’t want to miss this season’s production of King Lear. As a co-production with Theatre Calgary, the Company is comprised of the best of the best from Vancouver, Calgary and beyond. While you’ll likely recognize Bard favourites such as Colleen Wheeler and Jennifer Lines, there are some new faces on the BMO Mainstage, including Nathan Schmidt. Since this is Nathan’s first summer at Bard, we sat down with him to find out more about his experience performing in King Lear and our world premiere, Shakespeare’s Rebel.

Nathan Schmidt in Shakespeare's Rebel, 2015. Photo by David Blue

Bard: This is your first season at Bard – is it what you expected?

I’d never been to Bard before, so I didn’t really have many expectations. I’ve done a few shows over the years out here on the coast, so I was expecting all the loveliness of living by the ocean in the summer. I’ve loved the energy at Bard – what a remarkable thing it is. The staff and volunteers have been so welcoming and helpful. I’m thankful to be a part of it.

Bard: How has the experience of performing King Lear at Bard been different from Theatre Calgary, where you started the run?

Well, a big change for me is I’m in a different role than I was playing in Calgary. Playing Edgar has been a new experience. Of course we’re outside now, so that has been pretty amazing. At one point during rehearsals I was doing the “Yet better thus, and known to be contemned…” speech and I looked out the back of the tent. The breeze rushed through and I thought, “What a great way to experience this story”. Pretty exciting.

Bard: What are some of your duties as Fight Captain for Shakespeare’s Rebel and King Lear?Nathan Schmidt as Edgar, King Lear, 2015. Photo by David Blue

My job is to facilitate the safety of the fights as well as keeping a watch on the storytelling within the choreography. We run a fight call prior to every show so that the actors pull the fight up to the top of their brains. We don’t want the first time they’ve thought about the choreography to be in the middle of the show in front of the audience. Even with the fight calls, goofy stuff can happen. It is a really specific and physical task that gets caught up in the emotion of the scene. Fights are always happening in a heightened emotional state. Clear specific choreography is essential.

Bard: Do you ever need to make adjustments to choreography?

We want to maintain whatever was directed by the fight director, and hopefully we don’t have to shift from that, but sometimes injuries happen or confusion creeps in and we need to make adjustments to keep us all healthy and safe.

Bard: What has been your favourite moment so far this summer (or during rehearsals)?

The Fireworks nights were pretty great. Getting to sit on the stage and watch them from the back of the BMO Mainstage tent with other castmates and crew was really enjoyable. The cast of The Comedy of Errors also planned a “Prom” for both casts – decorated everything, mirrorballs and the whole thing. They even picked us up in cars from the other side of the site and gave us corsages. They really went all out.

See Nathan in King Lear on the BMO Mainstage and in Shakespeare’s Rebel 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: Nathan Schmidt, Declan O’Reilly, David Marr & Benedict Campbell, Shakespeare’s Rebel, 2015 (Photo by David Blue)