On July 4thand 5th, the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival launches their 29thseason withJulius Caesar, directed by Tamara McCarthy, andTwo Gentlemen of Verona, adapted and directed by Christopher Weddell. The plays will be performed in repertory through July 27on the Festival’s Camas Stage outdoors at Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus, with specialBard Across the Bridgeperformances ofTwo Gentlemen of VeronaAugust 1-3 at Saxe Point in Esquimalt in partnership with the Township Community Arts Council.
The GVSF’s layered acting program includes professional actors, community actors, early-career actors, and a Junior Company of actors aged 13-18. This season, that Junior Company is the largest yet, with a total of seven young actors included in the full cast of thirty. Beginning with just two members in 2014, the GVSF’sJunior Company program was created with the intention of providing mentorship, community, and skill building for youth who are passionate about theatre. As the festival has grown over the past six years, the GVSF has been able to intentionally hire directors with extensive teaching experience, and to cast professional actors in mentorship positions, allowing the Junior Company to expand each year.
Mackenzie Heaney, 14, a Junior Company member performing inTwo Gentlemen of Verona,had this to say about the program: “Myfavourite thing about working with the Festival has been building relationships with all these wonderful Shakespeare fanatics like me. I like to see how people who have been performing a lot longer than me workwhen they’re reading a new play, and what their techniques are; I really admire the patience and skill that they all put into it.” Asa O’Connor-Jackael, 14, who performs inJulius Caesar,said:“Something that’s really been great for me is to be able to work with a Shakespearean text over such along period of time, and to learn to really understand it, and see all the beauty in the lines that we are saying. There are such great lines inJulius Caesar, I love it!”
Perhaps the most unique addition to the GVSF’s cast this season is Steve the dog! Steve plays the role of ‘Crab’ inTwo Gentlemen of Verona.Often, ‘Crab’ is played by a puppet, a mechanical dog, or even animaginary one, but director Christopher Weddell wanted to take the more challenging yet rewarding route of bringing a live dog on stage with the cast. Taylor Lewis, a returning GVSF cast member, and Crab’s primaryscene partner, reflects:“Acting with an animal on stage means never doing a scene the same way twice.Steve is a pleasure to work with, but he often invents his own lines and blocking, and it’s on us human actorsto adapt!It’s a challenge, but if we allow those moments to breathe, it’s a win for us and for the audience.”
Tickets to the GVSF are available online atwww.vicshakespeare.com, or at the door. Children 12 years of age and under are always free!
Directed by Tamara McCarthy
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30pm July 4 through July 27
Preview: July 2
Opening: July 4
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Directed by Christopher Weddell Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30pm; Saturdays at 1:30pm
July 6 through July 27
Preview: July 3 Opening: July 5
All plays perform at Camosun College Lansdowne Campus. Performances ofTwo Gentlemen of Veronaat Saxe Point Park Aug 1-3. Tickets are $26, and $21 for students and seniors 65+. Festival season tickets are available. Children 12 and under are free.