Shakespeare on stage in a new way

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Shakespeare in the Park trustee Angela Newell in the Queens Park band rotunda where this year's Shakespeare on Screen will be held nearby.

THE great bard, William Shakespeare will continue to enthral audiences during the annual Invercargill Shakespeare in the Park Shakespeare on Screen next month.

Into its 21st season, the popular Tudor festival would return in a new format.

Four productions of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, a comedy, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second and Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy, performed by members of the UK’s NT (National Theatre) Live would be “replayed” on to a large screen in Queens Park.

Shakespeare in the Park trustee Angela Newell said due to the ongoing uncertainly of the Covid-19 situation, it was decided to present the productions, instead of committing to a large cast of actors, rehearsals, setting up a stage and making stage sets.

“This year… Covid-19 is never far from our thoughts… so we planned for a low cost, easy to change or cancel event if needed.

“A big production can take weeks and weeks of rehearsals, so we wondered what can we easily put on, in case it had to be cancelled or postponed [due to Covid-19].”

Newell said audiences would have the opportunity to watch some world-class performances.

“NT Live is one of the best companies in the world.

“Each performance was filmed live at UK theatres, not only capturing all the actor’s emotions, but also the audience’s reactions, gasps and clapping.”

Although New Zealanders had promoted and supported local and national arts throughout the country, it would be a great opportunity for arts fans to “support the arts from a distance and keep the flame of interest for performing arts going”, she said.

“We are bringing the world to Queens Park via the digital world.”

Newell said the festival was free and informal.

“We want to make it really accessible for people.”

There would be three days of screenings, showing four productions at six times from Friday, February 12, to Sunday, February 14 Valentine’s Day, with Twelfth Night and A Midsummer’s Night Dream repeated.

Because some of the screenings may go from three to three-and-a-half hours, patrons could choose to come and go, she said.

“Shakespeare in the Park has many appealing elements. Firstly being in the park in summer; secondly, the power of the Bard’s work; thirdly, the community support that keeps it sustainable,” Newell said.

Patrons were asked to bring along a chair or a blanket, a picnic or a takeaway and enjoy some Shakespearean entertainment in the park.

On the Sunday, Titania, a facepainter, would be in the Fairy Grotto for children to have their faces painted.

“Families are most welcome to come along, join in the fun and take photos of their children with their faces painted,” she said.

There would be signs from the park’s main pathway to direct people to the grotto.

However, Newell suggested those considering bringing children along to view the plays to also check the trailer and rating of each production as most could have a PG (Parental Guidance) rating due to content.

“Shakespeare has been around over 400 years.

“The question is, how do you present it to fit in with today’s standards and age appropriate recommendations.”

Help needed
Volunteers were being sought to help at the screenings, including front of house and welcoming patrons.

“To add to the atmosphere, they will be dressed up in some of our gorgeous Shakespearean costumes, of course,” Newell said.

For more information about volunteering, phone Angela Newell on 021 516 387.

  • Shakespeare in the Park; Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Hamletand The Tragedy of King Richard The Second, Queens Park band rotunda area, Friday, February 12, to Sunday, February 14. Free.

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