Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan: a modern take on the classics

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June 23, 2017 - 12:00am

For their 33rd season, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan will once again wow audiences with their contemporary twist on classic plays while keeping an enriching and accessible to all ethos.

This year audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy post-modern takes on Twelfth Night and Richard III nestled inside an intimate setting under tents along the edge of the South Saskatchewan River.

Under the vision of artistic director Will Brooks, Twelfth Night will be laced with the comedy complication it deserves.

“What is special this year is that we have another great cast,” Alan Long, director of marketing said. “We have been focusing on gender parody in our cast so we have six men and six women.”

In Shakespeare’s time, casts were solely men, as women were not allowed on stage, thus men would play the female roles. But as is tradition with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, this notion is flipped on its head, with women taking up the roles of both female and male characters on stage.

This should not disappoint, as they aim to take Twelfth Night, a play which centres around characters in a love triangle who do not know they are in one and sprinkle it with bluegrass music, cross dressing, gender bending, miscommunication and trickery. Adding to this will be intriguing subplots, drunken buffoons and razor-sharp wit to provide Shakespearean comedy at its best.

These same 12 actors will be used in repertoire to alternate between the comedy that is Twelfth Night and tragedy of Richard III all summer long.

This is only the second time Richard III has been presented, so it will be a new treat even for routine goers of the event.

Directed by Skye Brandon, Richard III will surely captive audiences. After a massive war has left England, it has seemed to find peace under King Edward IV. However, Richard, the youngest son of the King, routinely launches into monologues, breaking the fourth wall to inform the audience of his mischievous plans to steal the throne from his siblings at any cost — including murder. This surely will captivate and seduce those in attendance into a love-hate relationship with one of Shakespeare's greatest villains.

Working in partnership with the Heather David Foundation, the cast is filled with veteran and emerging artists all with ties to Saskatchewan.

This will include the likes of Kent Allen, whose professional career in performance spans over forty years. He first took the stage in 1990 with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. Lisa Bayliss, another 40-year performer will also be on stage alongside a number of few fresh faces eager to take on the role of the timeless characters.

It will once again be easier than ever to take in Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan through their partnership with Prairie Lily Riverboat Tours, located just down the river from the theatre. When you book a tour with Prairie Lily and a Shakespeare main stage play on the same day at www.theprairielily.com you save a total of $10, turning a night at the theatre into even more of an event. 

The grounds of the performance have also undergone some upgrades over the winter. With the movement of the main stage further north on the site, it is home to greater tree coverage and a bit farther away from the roadways, in the hopes to create a more intimate quieter experience along the banks of the river this summer.

New this year is Happy Hour at Sir Toby's Tavern. Running Tuesday through to Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., a food truck will be there, offering the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal, a beer or glass of wine to enjoy at the only riverside patio in Saskatoon.

Productions run from July 5 to August 20, with tickets on sale now. They can be bought from Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan’s box office: to experience riveting and inventive theatre on the shores of the South Saskatchewan.

Don’t forget to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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