Entertainment

Bard in the Valley season kicks off on Canada Day

Langley’s Kirstin Stewart plays Calpurnia, while Joseph Balint of Vancouver performs the role of the title character in Bard in the Valley’s summer production of Julius Caesar. The production opens Canada Day in front of the historic community hall in Fort Langley. There will also be performances at Township 7 Winery and Douglas Park. - submitted photo
Langley’s Kirstin Stewart plays Calpurnia, while Joseph Balint of Vancouver performs the role of the title character in Bard in the Valley’s summer production of Julius Caesar. The production opens Canada Day in front of the historic community hall in Fort Langley. There will also be performances at Township 7 Winery and Douglas Park.
— image credit: submitted photo

Come to bury Caesar or come to praise him — just make sure to come to a performance of Bard in the Valley’s latest summer production, Julius Caesar.

This summer, Bard in the Valley is celebrating its fifth season of outdoor theatre in Langley by stepping away from the Bard’s comedic offerings and staging one of his great tragedies.

The production opens on Canada Day in Fort Langley and closes on Aug. 3 on the Spirit Square Stage in Douglas Park. In Between, it will make a stop at Township 7 winery.

Caesar returns to Rome after victory over Pompey the Great, but not all Rome is willing to heap honours on the Great General.

Instead, Caesar is assassinated by a group of conspirators and the republic is plunged into civil war.

Produced by Diane Gendron and directed by Darcy J. Knopp, the same duo who staged last year’s successful production of The Comedy of Errors, this year’s effort takes a gritty look at honour, patriotism, friendship and an empire on the road to ruin.

“We recognize there is an element of risk as we descend to a darker side, but we expect our audiences were ready for a change as well.”

“The play, written by William Shakespeare more than 400 years ago is about a political event that took place 1,600 years before that, and yet everything about it is still relevant around the world today,” she said.

“A regime is toppled, a realm thrown into chaos and life for the people does not improve. Sounds all too familiar.

“Our production is edgy, action-packed and filled with intrigue and betrayal.”

“The once proud Coliseum is now a collection of broken arches and missing stones,” added Knopp.

“Waves of fear and anger from Rome’s desperate citizens has cost its empire dearly and darker days are on the horizon.”

In this play, audiences will recognize some of the most famous lines in the English language, from “Et, tu, Brute?” to “it was Greek to me” and “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” — all told in the fashion of a modern graphic novel.

“2014 is Bard in the Valley’s fifth anniversary, a milestone, so when (Knopp) gave us the choice of producing another comedy or Julius Caesar, the Bard in the Valley board saw this as an opportunity to try something different.

“We knew with Knopp directing, we wouldn’t be seeing the same play many people remember studying laboriously in high school.

“His interpretation is exciting, edgy and filled with spectacle,” said Gendron, who is also BIV president.

Audiences are invited to come early and bring a blanket, lawn chairs and a picnic. Theatre snacks will be sold onsite.

“Bard in the Valley is able to continue to bring this exciting summer theatre to Langley because of the wonderful support from the community and the 60 talented and dedicated cast, crew and production team who volunteer their time and energy for the season, because we want to give something worthwhile back to the community,”  said Gendron.

“We are delighted to be involved with Fort Langley’s Canada Day Celebrations. Julius Caesar is just one of the many activities people can enjoy that day, including the Festival of the Book, fun at the Centennial Museum and Farm Museum and, of course, the Fort National Historic Site.”

This year’s production is dedicated to Bard in the Valley founder, Allan Thain, who passed away last December.

Performance dates:

• Tuesday, July 1, at 3 p.m. on the lawn in front of Fort Langley’s historic community hall during Canada Day Celebrations. Admission is free.

•  July 11, 12, 18, 19 & 20 at the Township 7 Winery in Langley. Evening performances begin at 7 p.m. and the Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m.

•  July 24, 25, 26, 27, 31 and Aug. 1, 2, & 3, on the outdoor Spirit Square Stage in Douglas Park in Langley City. Admission is free. Evening performances begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

For more Information about The Bard in the Valley Theatre Company please visit www.bardinthevalley.com.

Admission is free to nine of the 14 shows, however donations will be welcome to help cover production costs.

Tickets to attend the performances at the Township 7 Winery are $20 and can be reserved online. Go to township7.com and click on events.

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