After missing all last summer due to Covid, it was so nice to hear that Shakespeare By The Sea was launching an abbreviated season starting in August this summer.
Shakespeare By The Sea has been around for years, and every year they struggle with finances and the weather. According to their website:
Shakespeare By The Sea is:
- the most accessible presenter of live theatre in Atlantic Canada
- the largest outdoor summer theatre festival east of Montreal
- dedicated to creating original works based on classic tales and legends
- committed to the ongoing development of Canadian theatre artists.
We have been attending Shakespeare By the Sea since JT was a kid. Not that JT was interested in Shakespeare as a kid, but because they also did wonderful locally written and produced productions of great kids stories like Snow White, where many props were created from pool noodles and Robin Hood that pulled in some local lore and pop culture. Along with Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Cinderelly (yes Cinderelly) with a country take, and numerous others. All hilariously funny and well done. Something we enjoyed as a family.
Even when JT was a teen and young adult, we enjoyed the kid’s show; but we also enjoyed By The Sea’s version of Shakespeare’s plays. I took a course in Shakespeare in university, when I was younger and thought of getting an English degree; but it is one thing to read the plays, it is a another thing to see them performed. And to see them performed outside at the Cambridge Battery in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax is a total joy. The old battery structure is incorporated into the set, local references are sometimes added to the lines and costumes and props are often very minimal.
Each year the group performed two Shakespeare plays and one kid’s story. We always try to see as many of them as possible and have yet to be disappointed. So this year when circumstances allowed them to launch an abbreviated season consisting of an abridged version of Midsummer’s Night Dream, we were all in. In the past the performances were drop in and pay what you can. Then they introduced some Sweet Seats that you could purchase in advance and they would provide the chairs and a prime location. We started booking Sweet Seats a couple of years ago. This year, we booked in advance to guarantee our seats because numbers were limited. We picked a night where the weather would be clear as we didn’t want to risk a rain cancellation. After all JT was leaving soon and we may not get another opportunity.
Attending was like seeing an old friend under different circumstances. Seats were set up so that groups were distanced from each other. Certain rules were in place and justifiably so. The show started at 7:00, as usual, and lasted 88 minutes with no intermission, meaning it was still light when it ended. In the past, longer shows ended in the dark at around ten with a generator off in the distance providing lights. We really didn’t mind the short version, it was just so nice to be there again. And there were no mosquitoes that night. A win-win.
So if you are ever in Nova Scotia in the future when things are back to normal and are looking for something fun and different to do, I highly recommend you take in a performance by Shakespeare By The Sea. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare lover to enjoy a good show in a great location.