About the Festival
Celebrating its 25th Season in 2014, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada's largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare Festivals. Presented in a magnificent setting on the waterfront in Vancouver's Vanier Park, the Festival offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas, and several special events in two performance tents from June through September.
A custom-built Mainstage tent was erected in 2011, offering expanded seating (733 seats), a redesigned stage and more comfortable seating for patrons. The Mainstage tent is open-ended so that the actors perform against a spectacular backdrop of mountains, sea and sky - a highlight of the unique Bard experience. Two productions are performed in repertory in the tent from mid June through mid September.
The Douglas Campbell Theatre tent seats 240 and its two repertory productions run from the end of June through September. This intimate performance space features Shakespeare's lesser-known plays or his great classics presented with less traditional staging.
Both tents are located in the Bard Village, a lively gathering space for Bard theatre patrons where they can meet and chat with fellow event-goers, take in a range of educational events, enjoy full concession and bar services and browse the Bard boutique. The Village is open to patrons for one full hour prior to curtain.
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Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival was established in 1990 with a mandate to provide Vancouver residents and tourists with affordable, accessible Shakespearean productions of the finest quality. The Festival began as an Equity Co-op, funded primarily by a Canada Council Explorations grant awarded to Artistic Director and Founder, Christopher Gaze. A fully professional, not-for-profit theatre company, Bard on the Beach now engages thirty actors each season as well as a team of exceptional directors, designers, and technicians; it is also supported by more than 200 volunteers. The productions consistently receive both critical and audience acclaim and repeatedly play to sold out houses.
The plays are staged in Vanier Park on Vancouver's waterfront, in open-ended tents against a spectacular backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. The Mainstage tent seats 733 patrons and offers two productions staged in repertory from end of June through September. The 240-seat Douglas Campbell tent was added in 1999 as a venue for the lesser-known plays in Shakespeare's canon or innovative stagings of his greater works. In addition to its Shakespeare productions, Bard offers many ancillary activities including opera concerts and specialty workshops and forums. The tented 'Bard Village' offers a range of patron services including concessions, bar and boutique.
Over the years Bard on the Beach attendance has grown significantly from 6,000 patrons in 1990 to more than 89,000 patrons in 2013. Over 1.3 million patrons have enjoyed the Bard experience over its 24 seasons. Its budget has increased from $35,000 in 1990 to $4 million in 2013. The programming has of course expanded from one play to four, and from 34 performances to almost 200 two and a half decades later. In 2003, through a collaboration with Mission Hill Family Estate winery called 'Bard in the Vineyard', Bard on the Beach also presented a production in the Okanagan for the month of August.
Through its constantly expanding community outreach, Bard hosts the immensely popular Young Shakespeareans Summer Workshops for youth and teens on site during the summer, and Bard in the Classroom workshops for students and teachers during the school term. Artistic Director Christopher Gaze spreads enthusiasm for the magic of Shakespeare's plays through frequent guest appearances at corporate, scholastic and private events.