Bard on the Beach relies on an incredible team of staff, Company members and volunteers to help put on our Festival every summer. We are so excited to be introducing our new People of Bard series, which will spotlight just some of the wonderful individuals who make our work possible.
This week, we’re thrilled to be highlighting Bard’s Executive Director, Claire Sakaki!
Claire has been at Bard on the Beach for over nine years, and as Executive Director, she leads Bard’s financial, administrative and daily operations. Prior to joining Bard in 2013, she was the Producer at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre. We are so grateful for Claire and her extraordinary leadership over the years, and we’re so happy to be speaking with her today!
What do you enjoy the most about your role at Bard?
I get to be immersed in the most incredible community: the staff, artists, contractors, volunteers, patrons and donors are all so amazing, and every single one of them plays a significant part in what makes Bard the company we are. I feel so lucky every day that I get to spend time with these wonderful people.
What are you looking forward to this Season?
I am most excited about the Season as a whole. I cannot wait to speak to our patrons about the four very different productions and how they resonated with them.
Do you have a favourite memory from past Seasons at Bard?
I have so many favourite moments – it’s hard to choose just one – but a few come to mind. I loved the Opening Night for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2022, more than two and a half years since our last performance prior to the pandemic. It was such a moving night celebrating the incredible accomplishments that got us through those difficult days to that triumphant production.
Another moment that comes to mind is in the early days of the pandemic, when around 30 artists, staff, site crew and volunteers got together in Sen̓áḵw/Vanier Park to plant grass seed. It was a time when we would normally start rehearsing the plays or building the site, but we were only able to come together in this way. It meant so much to me to be with these people and accomplish something together, especially during that difficult and scary time.
I have so many favourite memories from past productions: the glorious cultural content in 2019’s All’s Well That Ends Well, Scott Bellis’ ending of 2017’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the music in 2015’s The Tempest – and one favourite play where I loved everything about it – the acting, the direction, the design and most of all, the adaptation of Lois Anderson’s 2019 The Taming of the Shrew. That adaptation is exactly what I love about doing Shakespeare today – we start with epic exciting language and characters, keep what works, change what doesn’t and strive to make it resonate with today’s audiences and artists. It was a wonderful retelling of a traditionally problematic story, making it (in my opinion) better than the original. It made me so proud to be a part of this company.
And finally, I always remember every Student Matinee I attend. The young people are always so enthusiastic about what is on stage – it often feels like a rock concert! Nothing gives me more hope and joy than seeing hundreds of young people get excited about theatre.
When you aren’t helping to put on a Festival, what do you like to do in the summer?
We live in the most incredible place and we try to stay close to home all summer – my husband, daughter and I like to spend time in places like Pacific Spirit Park, walk the Seawall as much as possible and stock up on baked goods from all the wonderful local farmers markets!
To learn more about Claire, visit our Leadership page here. Plus, be sure to stay tuned for more instalments of our People of Bard series in the weeks to come!