Shakespeare in the Park: Cozy Up to “The Winter’s Tale” – blogUT

 

It’s been just over two months since classes (thankfully) ended for the dedicated and tireless troopers here at U of T, but let’s face it: as much as we all look forward to some free time spent out in the sun, or even likelier spent inside our video game caves (Portal 2 anyone?), it’s all but impossible to avoid those boring days spent asking oneself, “What am I going to do today?”. I’m very happy to report that due to my brilliant sleuthing skills—okay, Googling skills, really—I stumbled upon an event that will delight playgoers, English students, and tree-huggers alike. That’s right, it’s the 29th Annual Canadian Stage Dream in High Park, featuring a play by everyone’s favourite bearded bard that is sure to delight, The Winter’s Tale.

To try and draw in those of you who perhaps prefer Two and a Half Men repeats (or anything at all) to Shakespeare, the performance is free, with donations of any amount accepted at the gate if you’re feeling generous à la Scrooge after seeing the three ghosts. As for you Shakespeare connoisseurs out there, this adaptation of the play by Canadian theatre director Estelle Shook is wonderful. With minimal props, live music in between acts thanks to two amazing violinists, and actors occasionally coming out into the “aisles” of the amphitheater, you instantly feel yourself enveloped in Shakespeare’s fictional land of Bohemia. Actor John Blackwood’s humorous portrayal of the roguish pickpocket Autolycus was of particular note and was clearly an audience favourite, garnering laughs and applause at each reappearance. David Jansen was also stirring as the guilt-ridden Leontes and provided a pleasing contrast to the comedic scenes, rounding out the play’s “tragicomedy” label.

For the remainder of you who, like me, are somewhere in between Shakespearephobes and Shakespearephiles, this play is a welcome chance to get out into the fresh summer air and enjoy a play full of twists and turns, tense drama and laugh-out-loud comedy, and even a man exiting the stage being pursued by a bear, as the famous stage directions dictate. So hop on the Bloor line to High Park station with a bag full of snacks, take the beautiful walk through the park to the amphitheater, snuggle up under a blanket with some friends (and yes, a mosquito or two), and enjoy an entertaining night under the stars.

There is a certain unique ambiance that the outdoors provide to any dramatic performance.  This atmosphere particularly lends itself to Shakespeare’s plays, which often debuted at The Globe, the open-air amphitheater founded by the playwright himself. It is certainly fitting, then, to appreciate his work in the way it was intended to be seen, and in the way it has been admired by so many throughout the centuries; I’m certainly no bard, but you could almost call it poetic.

The Canadian Stage Dream in High Park will run until September 4, 2011 at the High Park Outdoor Amphitheater. The show can be seen every Tuesday to Sunday and begins at 8 p.m. (weather-permitting). Gates open at 6, so get there early to snag a good spot!

For more info, stop by http://www.canadianstage.com/dream

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