Five directors have pitched proposals for which Shakespearean play should grace the Bard in the Valley stage next year, and the winner will be announced later this week.
Counting down the final four of 17 performances of Midsummer Night’s Dream, some of the Langley thespians involved are already looking ahead to 2020.
But Bard president Diane Gendron spent a little time this week reflecting back on this summer and – even further – back on the decade since Bard in the Valley (BIV) was conceived.
“The play is quite wonderful and it’s a delight to be sitting in the audience, knowing the people are ‘getting’ the many funny bits because they are laughing out loud,” said Gendron, who also served as producer for Midsummer.
She listed a long stream of season highlights, including seeing all the “talented actors,” grateful spectators, and generous volunteers who helped make it a “wonderful” show.
“Oh, and also, seeing so many familiar faces in the audience – people who make attending a Bard in the Valley performance a tradition for their family and friends,” Gendron added.
The “gushing” didn’t end there.
“And…to see the cast, many of whom don’t know each other at the beginning, come together, not just on stage but as a group of friends,” she said, elaborating. “Of the 18 actors, 11 have been in Bard in the Valley shows through the years . But, instead of being an impenetrable clique, they make all the newcomers feel welcome and valued.
Sadly, she predicted, attendance is expected to be down overall this year. Threats of rain and even thunderstorms kept many people away for some of the earlier shows.
And a change of venue, Gendron admitted, impacted the numbers, too.
This year there were no shows in Fort Langley, where “we always had good opening audiences.” Plus, this year was also the first time Bard was shown four times at the amphitheatre in Willoughby Park.
In addition to those performances, there were five sold-out shows at Township 7 Winery.
“Attendance at the winery was the highest in all the seven years we’ve been there with 800 people,” she said.
The BIV team has since moved the show to Langley City for eight performances (four still to come) at the Douglas Park’s Spirit Square bandshell.
The remaining shows start at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, plus, there’s a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
How Bard has grown in the last decade
Since the group’s inception in 2010, Bard in the Valley has presented a William Shakespeare play each summer in various outdoor venues throughout Langley.
More than 20,000 people have come to see free admission BIV’s performances, while another 3,000 – roughly – have attended the paid shows each year at the winery.
To mark Bard’s 10th anniversary this year, they revived the first play produced a decade ago, Midsummer Nights Dream. This time, however, it was directed by Darcy J. Knopp – who played Oberon all those years earlier in the inaugural run.
“Darcy has had many roles with BIV through the years, both as a director and an actor. He brings a passion to his theatre projects and it is a pleasure to see his exciting vision come to life on the stage,” Gendron said.
“Darcy worked with his wonderful cast (of 18 and crew of 30) to create a play that is fast-paced, fun, and different from any other Midsummer production that anyone would have seen.”