Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival Celebrates Its 33rd Season & Looks Ahead To 2023
SEPTEMBER 25, 2022, VANCOUVER, B.C. – Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s 33rd Season has ended on a note of celebration, with the successful return of its signature live theatre model following two canceled in-person seasons, along with three plays and multiple special events that drew both critical and audience praise.
The 2022 Bard season ran from June 8 to September 24 in Sen̓áḵw/Vanier Park in Vancouver. The single BMO Mainstage production was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, filled with laughter, love and magic. The Howard Family Stage hosted two innovative productions: Djanet Sears’ Harlem Duet, a powerful Canadian drama that explores a Black couple’s experience through three eras, and Romeo and Juliet, the tale of two young people who risk everything for love, with this season’s emphasis on Juliet’s point of view.
Many of Bard’s special events returned in 2022, from the crowd-pleasing Bard Fireworks nights to Opera & Arias concerts and a performance by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Relaxed Performances supported those who benefit from a less structured patron experience, and themed Family Days encouraged a new generation of young theatre patrons to discover Shakespeare and the Sen̓áḵw/Vanier Park festival experience.
“This was a unique season for us, one that came with great satisfactions but also some formidable challenges”, noted Bard’s Founding Artistic Director, Christopher Gaze. “For two summers we could not offer live theatre to our patrons due to the pandemic, and as they returned, we had to reinvent some of our processes and activities to best support their comfort and safety. Even with that, some of our past Festival goers were not ready to be back in a theatre, either for fear of contracting COVID or because the habit of attending live theatre had lapsed. Environmental conditions also made it challenging to deliver many of our performances, as we faced periods of extreme heat to wildfire smoke and poor air quality in August and September. All those factors impacted our final attendance total of 79,000, which is just below 80% of pre-pandemic numbers. However, we are heartened that our returning patronage was higher than for many summer theatre presenters across North America. Our confidence has been renewed that Bard’s brand of Shakespeare remains relevant to the world we live in now and we’re excited to prepare for next season where we can engage with increasingly diverse and demanding audiences.”
Adds Executive Director Claire Sakaki, “We are a not-for-profit business that must be financially sustainable while also meeting the standards of a discerning modern theatre-going audience. This summer both inspired us and tested our model – artistically, financially and operationally. For example, we chose to engage understudies for the first time, and that new expense proved to be a vital investment that kept our shows running as cast and crew members dealt with COVID and other challenges. 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 2022, Bard advanced its mission to share Shakespeare with young people, a key part of its organizational mandate. 6,900 patrons aged 6 to 22 took advantage of the 50%-off GLOBAL BC Youth Price, and almost 5,000 students from 89 schools attended student matinees and select evening performances in June and September at a deeply discounted student price. Bard also offered onsite youth Camps in July and August for ages 6-18; more than 150 participants gained experience performing and playing Shakespeare, led by professional theatre artists. The Riotous Youth program continued for a ninth year, giving a group of post-secondary artists and arts professionals training in Shakespearean performance along with practical experience as Bard teaching artists.
Bard’s volunteer cohort came back full strength to provide administrative, site and Front of House assistance; over 300 people contributed a total of 15,000 hours of service during the Festival season. Bard audience members generously contributed a record-breaking $60,000 to Theatre Cares, the Actors Fund and Bard’s own youth-education Bursary Fund, and the Festival gave over 750 complimentary tickets to various local charities and under-served communities during the season.
Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges the corporate sponsors and donors who support and sustain the Festival and its programs. 2022 support came from the Peter and Joanne Brown Foundation (Season Sponsor), BMO Financial Group (BMO Mainstage) and Paul and Darlene Howard (Howard Family Stage), along with Production Sponsors Lawson Lundell LLP (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), BlueShore Financial Group (Harlem Duet) and Polygon Homes (Romeo and Juliet); Season Media Sponsors the Vancouver Sun and Global BC, as well as many other valued sponsors and partners. Bard also thanks the City of Vancouver Cultural Services Department, the Vancouver Park Board, the Province of British Columbia, the B.C. Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, and the Canada Council for the Arts for their continuing support.
The 2023 Festival Lineup
The Festival’s 34th Season, which will run from June to September 2023, brings back the most successful production in Bard’s history, plus a famous tale of political intrigue, a sweeping historical drama, and a unique, interactive modern theatre piece drawn from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
On the BMO Mainstage, the Beatles are back, baby! As You Like It, with its blend of Shakespearean comedy and Beatles’ hits performed live, broke every Bard box office record in 2018; it will open the 2023 Festival after delighting audiences across Western Canada and the USA. It will play in repertory with Shakespeare’s gripping political drama, Julius Caesar. The Howard Family Stage is host to two contrasting productions: Henry V, adapted by Lois Anderson to unfold in a mythical realm, inspired by fantasy, and the clever and hilariously interactive Goblin: Macbeth, created by a team of acclaimed Canadian theatre artists. The 2023 Season Sponsor is the Peter and Joanne Brown Foundation, returning with its vital support for another year.
“Our 34th Season offers dynamic productions for theatre lovers of every stripe,” said Christopher Gaze. “There’s a wealth of romance, music, high-spirited comedy and compelling drama – something for all, from the committed Shakespeare fan to someone who has never been to Bard before. And the Beatles will create an entry-point for everyone!”
Early Bird-priced 2023 Season Packs are currently on sale and offer a substantial discount on tickets for all four plays. 2023 Flex Packs go on sale starting October 26. Single tickets go on sale in April 2023 on the Bard website or from Bard’s Box Office at 604-739-0559.
About Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. Established in 1990, Bard’s mission is to create transformational experiences through exceptional theatre, training and education opportunities that inspire, resonate, and promote the exchange of ideas. As well as its annual summer Festival, Bard offers year-round education and training programs for youth, adults and theatre professionals in its administrative home at the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village as well as in schools and community facilities throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
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.
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