Harlem Duet Joins the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s 2022 Season
MAY 27, 2022, VANCOUVER, B.C. – Djanet Sears’ provocative play Harlem Duet joins the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s 33rd Season in Sen̓ákw/Vanier Park. The Bard premiere of Harlem Duet runs on the Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre for a limited engagement from June 15 to July 17, 2022. Full details on all the Festival’s productions and events are at bardonthebeach.org
Djanet Sears‘ Governor-General’s Award-winning drama Harlem Duet explores the complicated relationship of a Black couple in three key periods in the American Black experience: 1860, before the US Emancipation Proclamation; 1928, during New York’s Harlem Renaissance; and in post-civil rights 1997. Each setting reframes the story of the woman, her deep love for her partner, and her sacrifices – and resilience – in the face of his betrayal. With deep connections to Shakespeare’s Othello, Harlem Duet explores important contemporary questions about race, privilege, and relationships within the framework of a visceral story about the power of love to both uplift and destroy. It has been described as “an era-spanning epic that describes what it is to be Black then and now in North America.”
“It’s inspiring for our company to produce Harlem Duet in the 25th anniversary year of this award-winning drama,” said Christopher Gaze, Bard on the Beach Founding Artistic Director. “Bard on the Beach has always evolved and in recent years we have increasingly presented plays by ‘bards’ other than Shakespeare. The poetry and pathos of Djanet Sears’ work makes it a provocative counterpoint to our BMO Mainstage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Director Cherissa Richards (Assistant Director, Timon of Athens, 2018) has assembled a creative team to present a work she terms as “essential to our theatre landscape.” Marci T. House (Lysistrata, Timon of Athens, Coriolanus) is Billie/She/Her, together with Donald Sales as Othello/He/Him. Together, they bring to life the cyclical demise of a loving relationship in three different contexts, all impacted by race and loyalty. They are joined by Liza Huget as Magi, Billie’s landlady, and Marsha Regis as Billie’s sister-in-law Amah. Tom Pickett (Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Twelfth Night) plays Canada, Billie’s estranged father.
Set & Costume Designer Rachel Forbes has created a brownstone apartment in the heart of Harlem that transforms to reflect three time periods, blending Othello and Billie’s worlds and experiences together. Sound Designer Malcolm Dow and Composer & Musical Director John “Adidam” Littlejohn have created a soundscape that blends original music and arrangements performed live on stage by musicians Alexander Boynton Jr. (bass) and Marlene Ginader (violin). Production Dramaturg Stephen Drover, Lighting Designer Sophie Tang, Fight Director Jonathan Hawley Purvis, Lighting Design Assistant Hina Nishioka, Set Design Assistant Jennifer Stewart, Costume Design Assistant Margaret Onedo and Intimacy Director Lisa Goebel round out the production team. Production Stage Manager Rebecca Mulvihill is assisted by Tanya Schwaerzle (Assistant Stage Manager) and Mariana Munoz (Apprentice Stage Manager). The Directing Apprentice for Harlem Duet is Cameron Grant.
Performance details and Special Events for Harlem Duet are:
- Harlem Duet runs Tuesdays through Sundays from June 15 to July 17 on the Howard Family Stage. Previews: June 15, 16, 17, 18, 19; OPENS: June 21.
- Talkback Tuesdays feature a post-performance Q&A session with cast members, on July 5 & 12.
- Exploring Harlem Duet brings together SFU’s Paul Budra and special guest, director Cherissa Richards, for a wide-ranging conversation about the play and its themes, followed by an audience Q&A. 11am, Saturday, June 25.
Ticket prices (Regular Adult) include all fees & taxes and start at $27. Festival special events, group bookings and multi-play ticket package prices can be found online at bardonthebeach.org or by calling the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559. All tickets are now on sale. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection (all seats are reserved) and because many performances sell out in advance.
Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges the corporate sponsors and donors who support and sustain the Festival and its programs. 2022 support comes 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.
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.