Learn fun facts about the Douglas Campbell Theatre and the Howard Family Stage! Plus, take a closer look inside the tent. 


Douglas Campbell Theatre tent entranceway (2016).

Bard on the Beach is located on the ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) people. The Festival grounds sit on the site of Sen’ákw. Learn more about the history of this vibrant Coast Salish village here.

In our last Building Bard blog post we shared some fun facts about the Festival Village; if you missed it you can still check it out here. Now we’re going to explore the Douglas Campbell Theatre tent—home to one of the two stages at Bard.

The Douglas Campbell Theatre is named after Douglas Campbell—the legendary British-Canadian Shakespearean actor. Douglas was also a good friend and mentor to Christopher Gaze and both of them performed in and directed plays in Bard’s earlier seasons. In 2019, a commemorative painting was created by artist Andrew Seal and installed in the Village near the tent entranceway.

Christopher Gaze & Andrew Seal with the painting of Douglas.

Inside of the Douglas Campbell Theatre is the Howard Family Stage, named in in honour of Darlene and Paul Howard, Vancouver philanthropists and strong supporters of Bard’s theatrical and educational initiatives. Darlene also serves as Vice President on our Board of Directors. We’re so grateful for their generosity!

This intimate performance space hosts a mix of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, classics presented with less traditional staging, and in recent years, contemporary plays with stories and themes that link to the Festival’s mission and mandate.

Here are some fun facts about the Douglas Campbell Theatre and the Howard Family Stage:

  • The Douglas Campbell Theatre was added to the Festival in 1999 in celebration of Bard’s tenth anniversary and the Howard Family Stage was originally named the Studio Stage
  • In 2013 the tent was replaced, followed by new seating in 2015, thanks to funding from Bard’s multi-year Staging our Future campaign.
  • Our site crew sets this tent up within the first week of being in the park. It then provides a covered space for site and production teams to use during construction and to keep the ground dry for when they start building the inside of the theatre in April.
  • The tent is a saddlespan design, which means that the entire weight of the tent structure is supported on just two points, which act as a hinge when raising and lowering the tent.
  • The DCT has 262 reserved seats and is the home of two repertory productions running from the end of June through September on its Howard Family Stage.
  • The entire tent system, and everything you would need to install it, could fit inside a 16ft U-Haul box truck. No bigger than the space required to move a small apartment!
  • The majority of the tent’s structure is made of aluminum, and the thick vinyl tent fabric weighs just as much as the structural components which makes it integral to the strength of the design.
  • The theatre has an adaptive layout and seating configuration which can accommodate unique visions and spatial needs. If you’ve seen shows on the Howard Family Stage over multiple seasons, you might have noticed that the location of audience moves around—allowing for some exciting theatrical surprises!
  • In 2018 the stage deck was raised to allow Colleen Wheeler to “destroy” it and climb inside for Timon of Athens, while in 2019 the stage was at ground level to make it safer and more accessible for the dancers in All’s Well That Ends Well.
  • In 2018, we hosted a special pop-up bar at the entrance of the DCT. The idea was dreamt up by director Meg Roe as a way to have an opulent cocktail party setting for the Timon of Athens pre-show. The bar was repurposed from the set of The Merry Wives of Windsor and painted white.
  • Over the years, our production and operations team have worked hard to reconfigure the entranceway layout to enhance the patron experience; for example, adding picnic tables for informal pre-show dining.
  • Throughout the summer, our company of actors and stage crew adds personal touches to their green room and garden spaces backstage.

Take a virtual 360° tour of the the Douglas Campbell Theatre and Howard Family Stage on Google

Set design for Equivocation/Cymbeline, 2014

Want to learn more about Bard behind the scenes? Become a Member and attend our next Creative Conversations event on August 22 at 10am, for an even closer look at the construction and deconstruction of our Festival site! 


With continued generous support from:

Have questions? Tell us in the comments!