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Rollicking Shakespeare in the great outdoors

 

company-of-fools-outdoor-theatre-credit-ottawa-tourismA Company of Fools performs Shakespeare's plays in Ottawa-region parks. This photo, taken three years ago, well before the performance began, gives a sense of the beautiful "willow grove" setting at Strathcona Park.One of my favourite summertime rituals is going to see Company of Fools perform a work of Shakespeare in the great outdoors. This fun, frenetic troupe performs Shakespeare in a very engaging way. While they follow the original texts, they also add a liberal dose of pop culture references that keeps the audience’s attention. And while their “stage” is often a sheet, a series of boxes and decidedly low-cost props, they make up for any visual shortcomings with a broad physicality that inevitably leads to laughter.

Each actor plays many roles — meaning quick costume changes and occasional visual hijinks to make it all make sense!

This year’s production is A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I’m hoping to catch it next Monday night in the beautiful Rideau River-side Strathcona Park in the downtown neighbourhood of Sandy Hill. But don’t worry if you can’t make it to that performance — they’re also playing in Wakefield, Westboro, Kanata, and Nepean, among others. Their website has the schedule (and directions). The shows continue nightly except Sundays until Monday, August 2.

Performances begin at 7pm and end by about 8:30pm with no intermission. You’re asked to bring your own lawn chair, or blanket (or you can just sit on the grass!). Some people arrive early and bring a picnic dinner. It’s oh so civilized!

At the end of the show, they literally “pass the hat” for payment. People generally give $10 or more per person — trust me, it’s worth it!

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