file photo

Bard on Bower will travel to more Red Deer parks

Prime Stock finishing casting for Romeo & Juliet, Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Bard on Bower is adding new parks to the show schedule for their eighth season this summer.

“This year we wanted to bring the theatre to the people, right out their front doors,” said Thomas Usher, artistic director of Prime Stock Theatre.

In mid-June, a month prior to the official start of main stage productions in Bower Ponds, the company will put on a mini touring Bard festival. A smaller troupe will travel to parks around the city to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream at block parties or anywhere they are requested.

The traveling cast will perform a condensed version of the original script, a 45-minute version.

Usher said they hope the early park showings will get people in the mood for more Shakespeare in the Park and encourage them to head over to Bower for the full script productions offered free of charge.

Casting for all three Bard on Bower productions began on March 16th. This year the company is doing Romeo and Juliet, Henry V as well as a shortened version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

There is quite a range in the people that come out to audition.

Usher said they see three main categories of skill level: professional actors from Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, local actors that have done community theatre and Red Deer College theatre students looking to get their feet wet.

“We like that mix, it’s very healthy for us,” said Usher.

Daniel Vasquez is a returning thespian who auditioned for all three productions again this year.

A regular improviser with Bull Skit Comedy and acting president of Prime Stock Theatre, he played Benzolio, ‘Romeo’s bro’ in the 2012 Bard on Bower season.

“As a returning actor it’s actually pretty relaxed, I’ve done it a couple of times,” he said.

Despite being heavily involved in the Red Deer theatre scene, Vasquez said acting is not his main source of income. He works for the City’s parks department and spends most of his days operating a skid steer.

“Being in Red Deer, it’s pretty rare to make a living at acting,” he said.

The casts of the Bard on Bower plays are only paid by donation. But he doesn’t mind, as he enjoys working with performers from all over Alberta with diverse backgrounds.

“Every show has its own kind of combined flavour and every season feels really unique,” Vasquez said.

He said his ideal role for this season would be Tybalt, Juliet’s hotheaded Capulet relative.

“Tybalt is the emotional personification of the conflict between the two families,” Vasquez said.

The specific role he lands is not what matters for him. After ten years on Red Deer stages, Vasquez looks forward to the experience of performing the classic shows outside in the park.

“It’s really gorgeous to be able to perform Shakespeare in Bower Ponds when the sun is setting,” he said.

The Prime Stock Theatre artistic director shares Vasquez’s sentiment.

Usher said that sometimes the weather itself strikes right on cue. He recalled a bolt of lightning shooting down at a pivotal scene and in another show where the audience had to take cover on stage when rain turned to hail.

“Rain or shine we keep going and the audience sits it out with us,” Usher said.

When it came to auditions the last two weekends, Usher and guest director David Owen were looking for a few specifics.

“As always, more than anything else, we’re looking for an ensemble that can work well together,” Usher said.

They also need actors that can handle the unique challenges of the outdoor venue.

Performers also need to be versatile and have a clear understanding of the script.

They also have to have the gumption to make bold choices and the energy to fill the large space.

Now in its eight season, Bard on Bower is starting to enjoy people returning year after year.

“They are now planning their summers around seeing us—we’re really hoping to make this a much more vital thing,” Usher said.

Initial auditions were held in Edmonton on March 16th and in Red Deer on March 17th. The company did call backs on Sunday. This week they will announce another round of auditions.

The company hopes to have the cast assembled in early April.

Just Posted

Red Deer rebounding, hosting AUMA convention

Hundreds of municipal officials gather in Red Deer for the AUMA

Celebrate ‘Alberta Culture Days’ here in Red Deer

Lots of family-friendly activities set for this coming weekend

On the run with Melissa Ray

Red Deer runner talks about her intense running experiences

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after truck collides with pub

RCMP are investigating the incident as an impaired driving collision

CATena offers glimpse into Central Alberta Theatre’s new season

Visitors can also check out Memorial Centre refurbishments

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on customer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Robbery report at outlet mall turns out to be fake: police

Leduc RCMP respond to weapons complaint at premium outlet collection mall

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Most Read