Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare by the Bow has record year despite unpredictable weather

Calgary's outdoor theatre will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020

The cast of Shakespeare by the Bow's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Trudie Lee.

To be or not to be. 

That’s the question Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare by the Bow was faced with throughout the summer due to unpredictable weather.

“It’s always a crapshoot when it comes to outdoor theatre. When you have an uncontrolled environment and when you don’t have much control with the weather,” said Haysam Kadri, program director with Shakespeare by the Bow.

“I wish it were easier but it’s part of the charm of what we do.”

The annual outdoor theatre in Prince’s Island Park performed one of Shakespeare’s most popular works: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In total, Shakespeare by the Bow put on 37 shows – which would have been 44 without rain. They also broke their daily attendance record on Aug. 18 with 860 people and had a total season attendance of more than 10,000.

The annual outdoor theatre also raised $111,000 in donations this season in support of their Emerging Artist Program. 

Kadri says Shakespeare by the Bow is actually a development program for emerging artists who are just entering the professional world. 

This year, 13 actors from seven post-secondary institutions worked on the show. 

Shakespeare by the Bow raised $111,000 in donations this season in support of their Emerging Artist Program. Photo by Trudie Lee.

“It just goes to show you that Shakespeare is still relevant in our city and Shakespeare by the Bow has an important place in the cultural fabric of our city,” said Kadri.

Next year Shakespeare by the Bow celebrates its 30th year in Calgary. For Kadri, it means Shakespeare continues to resonate with people.

“Shakespeare’s plays still speak to people even though they were written several centuries ago. They still resonate, they still find a way to be topical – they find a way to connect people to characters and storylines and circumstances and dramatic actions,” Kadri said.

“He’s quite extraordinary and his work has stood the test of time and will continue to stand the test of time.”

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