June 19, 2018 7:49 pm

Perfect for a mid-summer’s night: Edmonton’s Freewill Shakespeare Festival kicks off

Edmonton's Freewill Shakespeare Festival.

Credit: 2017 Freewill Shakespeare Festival

Edmonton’s Freewill Shakespeare Festival begins on Tuesday. The theatrical celebration runs for nearly a month, featuring live performances every day of the week, except for Mondays, at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park.

This year, laugh and cry as the professional company performs Hamlet and Comedy of Errors on alternating days of the week. The theatre performances pair nicely with food and beverage merchants on-site.

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The festival’s creative director, Marianne Copithorne, says the theme nights planned will attract all types of Edmontonians, even those without much Shakespeare experience.

“There’s wine pairings and there’s beer nights, there’s a keg night, there’s date nights, there’s a high tea that we offer in the afternoon [and] also a Shakespearean feast that we offer.”

Copithorne adds the most magical parts of the performances is when the covered, but open-air Heritage Amphitheatre plays a supporting a role.

“It’s great to see Mother Nature be the ambience director… Sometimes when something very serious is being said there’s thunder, or she’ll create a beautiful spidery backdrop of lightning to add to the drama of the tragedies.”

The festival site will open to the public 45 minutes prior to each performance and if you’re a little uneasy about the plays, the troupe Thou Art Here can help.

“We do the pre-show puppet shows,” troupe member Ben Stevens said. He added the puppets sum up the plays in plain language so they’re easier for rookies to understand.

“It’s family friendly, it’s funny and it gives you a nice little overview of the show you’re about to see.”

For a full schedule of the theme nights and to purchase tickets in advance, visit the Freewill Shakespeare Festival website.

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