Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival Closes An Outstanding Season & Looks Ahead To 2020

SEPTEMBER 22, 2019, VANCOUVER, B.C. – Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s 30th Anniversary Season has ended on a note of celebration, with a total attendance of 103,000 – the third season in a row to draw over 100,000 patrons – and a lineup of four plays and special events that generated both critical praise and near-sold out houses throughout the Festival.

The 2019 Bard season ran from June 5 to September 21. On the BMO Mainstage, a high-spirited, feminist-forward production of The Taming of the Shrew played in repertory with Shakespeare in Love, a lively romantic comedy based on the Oscar-winning film. The intimate Howard Family Stage hosted a unique new production of All’s Well That Ends Well, set in India on the cusp of Indian independence; it played with Bard’s first-ever production of Coriolanus, with Moya O’Connell playing the title character reconceived as a woman.

“Each of our season’s four plays featured a complex, fascinating female lead, in settings that took audiences from the American Wild West and Elizabethan England to post-WW2 India and a disturbing near-future,” said Christopher Gaze, Bard on the Beach’s Artistic Director. “That theme resonated, and all four productions were close to sold out throughout their runs, with extremely positive patron and critical feedback across the board. Those results reinforce our confidence that Bard’s brand of Shakespeare is relevant to the world we live in now, and I’m excited about future seasons where we can continue to speak to diverse and demanding audiences.”

Many of Bard’s special events returned in 2019, from the crowd-pleasing Bard-B-Q & Fireworks nights to Opera & Arias concerts, pre-show Wine Wednesday tastings, and themed Family Days that encouraged a new generation of young theatre patrons to discover Shakespeare and the Vanier Park festival experience.

Adds Executive Director Claire Sakaki, “As a successful (not-for-profit) business, we must be financially sustainable while also meeting the standards of a modern, discerning theatre-going audience. This year proved again that we can achieve both artistic and commercial success by celebrating all the riches Shakespeare has to offer while making the stories and concepts our own. As always, we thank our skilled professional teams and our dedicated patrons, volunteers, and supporters. We owe our success to each and every one of them.”

In 2019, Bard advanced its mission to share Shakespeare with young people, a key part of its organizational mandate. Almost 6,800 patrons aged 6 to 22 took advantage of the 50%-off GLOBAL BC Youth Price, and 5,000 students attended student matinees in June and September at a deeply discounted student price. Bard also offered its Young Shakespeareans workshops in July and August (ages 8-18); 192 participants gained experience performing and playing Shakespeare in a total of 20 sessions, led by current and past Bard acting Company members. The Riotous Youth program continued for its sixth year, giving a group of young adults the chance to continue training in Shakespearean performance while gaining experience in various administrative roles.

A record number of volunteers gave their time to provide governance, administrative, site and Front of House assistance, with 370 people contributing a total of 20,000 hours of service during the Festival season. Bard audience members generously contributed a record-breaking $45,000 to Theatre Cares, the Actors Fund and Bard’s own youth-education Bursary Fund, and the Festival gave almost 600 complimentary tickets to various local charities and under-served communities throughout the season.

The Festival’s 2020 Lineup: Celebrating The 31st Season

The 2020 Festival season will run from June 11 to September 26 and will include the most popular play in Bard’s history, a thrilling historical drama about the demands and pitfalls of leadership, a music-filled Jazz Age romance and a provocative contemporary play based on Milton’s Paradise Lost.

The magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, beloved by audiences around the world and across the ages, plays on the BMO Mainstage, directed by Scott Bellis. It will alternate with Shakespeare’s famous historical play, Henry V, directed by Lois Anderson and featuring Kate Besworth in the title role. The Howard Family Stage offers two contrasting productions, playing in repertory. Love’s Labour’s Lost, a restaging of Bard’s 2015 Jazz Age music-filled production, will be directed by Daryl Cloran (As You Like It, 2018; Shakespeare in Love, 2019). Paradise Lost, written by Erin Shields, is a critically acclaimed modern take on the battle between good and evil; it will be directed by Anita Rochon and Bard veteran Colleen Wheeler will play the role of Satan. For more details on the productions, click here.

Advance-price 2020 Season Packs are currently on sale and offer a substantial discount on tickets for all four 2020 productions. Flex Packs go on sale starting November 6. Single tickets go on sale in April 2020 on the Bard website or from Bard’s Box Office at 604-739-0559.


A selection of photographs for media use is available on the Bard website.
Please contact Cynnamon Schreinert for password access or for post-season interviews.
Tel: 604-802-2733; email: [email protected]