MELANIE MINTY: The Bard’s enduring appeal continues this spring

METRO VANCOUVER — The words and works of William Shakespeare are wildly popular. Born on April 16, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52. Or, at least, that is the guesswork on his lifespan.

We do know that his extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems and other verses. His is a controversial life, and more has been written about his life, his works, and whether he wrote all those plays (etc.) than the body of work attributed to him.

Well, whatever. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Ahh. All the world’s a stage as the Bard (perhaps) wrote.

He actually began his career as an actor in London somewhere between 1585 and 1592. And, although he was a respected playwright and actor in his own day, it really wasn’t until the 19th century that Shakespeare was idolized by the Victorians.

His popularity has not waned in the 20th and this part of the 21st century.

There is no doubt that the writings of William Shakespeare have profoundly affected the English language. To me, it no longer really matters who did or did not write all those plays. The important part is that they were written, performed and preserved.

And right here in our own part of the world, we are almost Victorian in our love affair with the Bard of Avon. Bard on the Beach in Vancouver is wildly successful, and Beach House Theatre has brought the Bard to White Rock Beach for two (or is it now three) sold-out-every-night seasons.

Bard in the Valley has been playing to interested audiences in Langley parks for many a summer. This year, BIV is producing Julius Ceasar (beware the Ides of March) by Shakespeare. Audition dates have just been announced, and maybe this is the summer you can jump on the bandwagon – or should that be "bard wagon" – and be part of a Shakespeare event this season.

Auditions will be held Sunday, March 30 and Monday, March 31. The audition does not require an appointment. Actors wishing to audition are asked to arrive at the Douglas Park Recreation Centre on Sunday, March 30 at 1 p.m. or on Monday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. to hear an outline of the production, performance expectations, rehearsal commitments, and to complete the audition form.

Everyone auditioning will be asked to do a cold read from the script and some will be asked to read for specific roles. Do not send digital headshots or resumés. Bring a printed hardcopy headshot and resumé to the audition to be turned in with the audition form.

Keep in mind, this is a non-equity production (no professionals, so no payment for services rendered), and everyone is welcome to come on out. More info? Contact producer Diane Gendron at info@bardinthevalley.com. Director is Darcy J. Knopp.

Rehearsals will mostly be Sundays and Monday evenings and performances are in July and early August. To be or not to be, is the question that can only be answered if you show up for auditions.

New Westminster’s Vagabond Players are using a Shakespeare spoof as their next production. It’s called Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), and poses the question, what if Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies were actually comedies? Here is the concept: Lovelorn academic Constance Ledbelly is convinced that they are. What’s more, she believes she knows the source of the plays. But after devastating disappointments in love and academia, she is transported into the Bard’s world of Othello and Romeo & Juliet, where she finds herself sending his stories in new directions. However, although she saves Desdemona and Juliet from their scripted deaths, their lives shoot off into directions that Constance had never envisioned. With an abundance of twists, fights, seductions and wild surprises, Constance engages in a truly hilarious Elizabethan tale of self-discovery. Every moment is a delicious frolic through time and space.

Directed by Michael Parker, the show runs April 3 to 19, Thursday to Saturday with Sunday matinees. Tickets are only $15, reserve at 604-521-0412 or book online at reservations@vagabondplayers.ca. This just might be a witty and engaging comedy of Shakespearean errors, and not to be missed. It even comes with a warning of some coarse language.

Now it’s time for us to part. Places to go, shows to see.

After all, the world is mine oyster. Whatever that means. But I do know that parting is such sweet sorrow.

melminty@telus.net

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