The merriment of Shakespeare’s A Mid Summer Night Dream is coming soon to a Calgary summer night as part of Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare on the Go summer programming.
Shakespeare on the Go, which for this year has replaced Theatre Calgary’s long-running Shakespeare on the Bow, opted instead to bring the Bard’s work to different communities for 2023.
The live theatre—which also happens to be free—runs until August 6 at Heritage Park, Redston, Ambleton, Brookfield Residential, Panorama Hills, Inglewood, and more (see the full schedule of performances below).
“What’s nice about it is that we get to go out into the communities, and so I think draws in an audience that might not normally be able to see theatre,” said Stephanie Alexandre, who is playing the lead role of Helena in the production.
“Also to it’s free, which is great. So then families can come, young children can come, and that’s definitely a bonus.”
The performanes feature some of Theatre Calgary’s Emerging Artist Program actors, although many of the players would be recognizable to theatre goers over the last season.
A Mid Summer Night Dream is the debut for Alexandre, who recently performed Kindling in the Stage It Festival. She is joined in that debut by Thalia Altura (Elsewhere: Since Brass Nor Stone, Ignite: Sage Theatre), Steph Bessala (Climate Shorts, Downstage Theatre), Sarah Glubish (Listen To Your Mother NYC), Christian Krushel (Macbeth, University of Alberta).
They are joined by Matthew Mooney, a Scottish actor who recently moved to Calgary and will be performing in Theatre Calgary’s upcoming production of The Mousetrap, and Kathleen Faith Ballangan who returns to the Theatre Calgary stage with her comedic timing still fresh from the company’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
A Mid Summer Night Dream is directed by Kelli Fox, with adaptation by Anna Cummer, sets and costumes by Cathleen Sbrizzi, sound design by Joy Robinson, and stage managed by Naomi Esau.
Each production runs for 85 minutes, and has no intermissions.
Full circle moment to act in A Mid Summer Night Dream
Alexandre said that it was a full circle moment for her to act as Helena, after studying the play during her undergraduate studies in English.
“I remember reading the character of Helena and I thought, ‘oh, I love her like she’s so cool.’ And then it’s definitely a cool full circle moment to then have joined drama, and now to be cast in that role.”
“This very special for sure.”
She said that the outdoor productions provide a lot of challenges for the performers, but also some fun for the audiences.
Quick changes and clever theatre tricks are at the heart of outdoor performances, and audiences should expect to be let into the magic throughout the play—along with, for fans of A Mid Summer Night Dream, very funny and very literal breaking of the fourth wall between audience members and the actors.
Fans of the Bard should also expect some heavy laughs from the antics of Bottom, whose comedic charm is brought to life by Mooney. Although, he said, comedy is not his mainstay as an actor.
“I suppose growing up in Glasgow [Scotland], you grow up around some comedians. My dad’s hilarious. I owe a lot to him. My family have always supported me being an actor, too.”
And like Bottom’s surreal journey throughout the production, Mooney himself had one, going from the theatre community in that country to a balmy January in Calgary before being cast in Shakespeare on the Go.
“It’s been a whirlwind of excitement to leave Scotland, arriving in January at minus 40. It’s been so surreal, an adventure before I’m 30, before a deadline hits of getting uneasy visa in this country—so yeah, it’s been marvelous.”
Cultural asset for communities
Rebecca O’Brien, Executive Director for the Inglewood BIA, said that having Shakespeare on the Go perform at Jack Long Park throughout the summer was a real cultural asset to Calgarians.
“We’ve got Fringe Festival, we’ve got Jazz YYC, we’ve got Music Mile, we’ve got Shakespeare on the Go: we just keep adding to the cultural experience in Inglewood. It’s a perfect fit I think in every way.”
She said that the July 21 performance, which had some of Canada’s top jazz and string artists Darcy Stamp and Mari Coetzee perform as part of the Music Mile series of events in conjunction with Shakespeare on the Go, was one of the ways that deep cultural connections in the community adds to the audience experience.
“Let me assure you that was pulled together, really quickly. There is an example of the way you can connect really well when you have good partnerships with cultural organizations that do so much for the city, to make it a great place to live in.”
Beyond bringing entertainment for just Inglewoodians, O’Brien said that putting on these cultural events remain important for Calgarians that are looking for an escape from everyday pressures.
“We’re just really lucky to be alive in this moment right now. The world is complicated, but we’re here and we’re happy.”
“People have incredible talents, and we’re all able to see it and be part of that.”
Shakespeare on the Go schedule
- Tuesday, July 25, 5 p.m.: Heritage Park Plaza (no admission required)
- Wednesday, July 26, 6 p.m.: Redston, Covenant Care – St. Teresa Place
- Friday, July 28, 7 p.m.: Inglewood, Jack Long Park
- Saturday, July 29, 1 p.m.: Lynx Ridge, Rockland Park
- Saturday, July 29, 7 p.m.: Heritage Park Plaza (no admission required)
- Sunday July 30, 2 p.m.: Seton YMCA, Evan Hazel Theatre
- Tuesday, August 1, 5 p.m.: Heritage Park Plaza (no admission required)
- Thursday, August 3, 7 p.m.: Killarney-Glengarry Community Association
- Friday, August 4, 7 p.m.: Inglewood, Jack Long Park
- Saturday, August 5, 1 p.m.: Panorama Hills Community Centre
- Saturday, August 5, 7 p.m.: Heritage Park Plaza (no admission required)
- Sunday, August 6, 2 p.m.: Highland Park Association