April 26, 2018: Cymbeline in Summer; Theatre magic in our parks (July 4 to August 5).

April 26, 2018: Cymbeline in Summer;
Theatre magic in our parks (July 4 to August 5).

By Eleanor Crowder.

What says “summer” to you? Lazy days in the shade? A cool smoothie at Westboro beach? Friends and a long summer evening with the light sinking slowly to dusk.

Magic, right? For the folks at Bear & Co., summer is all these things as we bring you a theatre experience like no other. We pull up to the park, lay a rope on the ground and presto, your sylvan oasis is our stage. Actors hustle into costume, stretch, warm-up the sword play, warm up the songs.

Your community arrives, with lawn chairs and picnic blankets, and suddenly you are a theatre. Magic 2 – chairs circled tight to the stage. Blankets up front, with the occasional stroller tucked between lawn chairs. This is community theatre for all ages.

Bear & Co.’s Shakespeare in the Park is truly a community event, with long-time aficionados and first time audience tucked in side by side. The action is fast paced; the words crystal clear.

In front of you on stage, you, the audience create Magic 3 – your willing collusion in the crazy sweeps of Shakespeare’s plot and the zany antics of his characters.

This summer, Bear & Co. bring you Cymbeline, possibly the craziest of all Shakespeare plots: lovers torn asunder, a scheming seducer, a wicked stepmother, a pampered princeling who gets his just deserts, and wild men, yes, wild men who live in a cave.

Sharon King-Campbell joins the company as guest director from St John’s, Newfoundland. Sharon began her career here in Ottawa playing Shakespeare in the Park so it’s a delight to have her come full circle. And you’ll see more of her work next season at the NAC, when she assistant directs Between Breaths with Jillian Keiley.

Cymbeline will play at 7 pm. The sun sinks slowly as the play progresses, but you’ll be moving before the mosquitoes hit. Bear & Co. will play Clare Gardens Park and Hintonburg Park , twice each, and this year we add a very special performance July 12 at Westboro Beach.

Thursdays will find us in your neighbourhood. Check the website at http://www.bearandcompany.ca for the dates, and for a close-by location should a sudden squall rain us out. The show is available across the region Tuesdays through Sundays, July 4 to August 5.

This is true grass roots theatre, as Shakespeare’s own company would have done it. Bear & Co. invites you to join in passing the hat after each performance. The cash in the hat means the actors can eat to play again.

The park is open to everyone, the show on offer to all. Your generosity keeps the art alive and puts you front and centre on the action every time.

Past seasons have brought “The Tempest”, “Macbeth” and “Romeo & Juliet” to area parks. This season’s show brings its own bragging rights: Cymbeline, Shakespeare’s craziest play presented in your very own park by Bear & Co., your very own travelling players.

Eleanor Crowder is a founding artist with Bear & Co. She has been staging Ottawa’s Shakespeare in the Park for 20 years.
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Photo Caption: Doreen Taylor-Claxton (standing) as Lady Macbeth with Zoe Georgaras, as the fire witch, in Bear & Co.’s production of Macbeth. This year’s play, “Cymbeline” runs in area parks from July 4 to August 5. Photo by Andrew Alexander Photography.

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