Outdoor Shakespeare shows mark ‘really cool’ return to normal for Calgary audiences

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WATCH ABOVE: There’s an encouraging sign for Calgary theatre companies that have been shut down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As Gil Tucker reports, some talented young actors are getting ready to take Shakespeare on the road – Jul 29, 2021

There’s an encouraging sign for Calgary performing artists and audiences that have experienced long shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Actors at Theatre Calgary are now rehearsing for the company’s new Shakespeare on the Go series.

They’ll be performing excerpts from The Comedy of Errors at several outdoor spots around Calgary throughout most of August.

Read more: Theatre Calgary develops video series to entertain Calgarians amid the COVID-19 pandemic

“Places like Heritage Park, the Calgary Public Libraries.” Theatre Calgary’s Christopher Loach said. “And we are even in a bingo barn parking lot.”

It’s a twist on Theatre Calgary’s usual Shakespeare by the Bow, an outdoor production at Prince’s Island Park which was cancelled last summer because of COVID-19.

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Cast and crew at an indoor rehearsal on Thursday were continuing with safety measures, including masks for the actors.

Read more: Calgary Cares: Green Fools Theatre helps kids through COVID-19

“It’s so weird to rehearse with a mask,” actor Spencer Streichert said. “Because you’re trying to get through a scene and you’re just like, ‘I feel like giving you this, but I don’t know if you’re seeing it, because you can’t see most of my face.'”

The production brings a welcome chance to get back to work for the young actors performing the play.

“These are students and young artists that are coming out of schools or have been out of school for a couple of years and haven’t had many opportunities because of COVID(-19),” Loach said. “So that’s why this is a really great opportunity.”

Three different casts will perform three different parts of The Comedy of Errors.

Read more: Struggling Calgary theatre company repeatedly hit by vandals offers space for graffiti

The segment being rehearsed Thursday has an Indigenous theme, set around the Calgary Stampede in 1912.

“We’re really diving in and saying, as Indigenous artists, what voice do we have to (bring to) Shakespeare?” actor Dylan Thomas-Bouchier said. “It’s a good twist on the classic.”

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Once they move on to performing outdoors, the actors will no longer be wearing their masks.

“I’m looking forward to when we get to perform and actually see each other’s faces,” actor Rebbekah Ogden said. “That’s going to be very new for us.”

The Shakespeare on the Go series kicks off Tuesday, Aug 3 at Heritage Park, with performances continuing at various Calgary venues until Sunday, Aug 29.

“It’s going to be really cool to be able to be able to connect with an audience like that again,” Streichert said.

“I think that there are a lot of people that are really hungry for that human connection and to see live theatre, and so I think it’s going to be cool to be a part of giving people that first memory back.”

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