Prime Stock Theatre actors (from left) Layne Zazalak, Everett Dool, and Irene Poole rehearse a scene from Richard II for this summer’s Bard on Bower shows. In July, the tragedy will run in repertoire with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Prime Stock Theatre actors (from left) Layne Zazalak, Everett Dool, and Irene Poole rehearse a scene from Richard II for this summer’s Bard on Bower shows. In July, the tragedy will run in repertoire with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Bard on Bower continues Red Deer’s outdoor summer theatre tradition

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Richard II’ will be staged in July

Since 2010, the show has pretty much always gone on at Red Deer’s Bard on Bower outdoor Shakespearean festival.

Although pleasantly warm summer evenings have been occasionally interrupted by showers, the actors have valiantly carried forth, and audience members (unfurling umbrellas) have stayed to watch the stage action unfold on the Bower Ponds outdoor stage.

Only flashes of lightning, COVID-19, and a health advisory about excess smoke from last summer’s wildfires have managed to temporarily halt the theatrical proceedings.

Mosquitoes worries? Forget about it. Prime Stock Theatre’s artistic director Richard Beaune said central Alberta’s mozzies have nothing on the hordes of flying bloodsuckers he’s had to ensure while putting on Summer Stock Shakespeare in Prescott, Ont., near the St. Lawrence River.

“They are so plentiful over there,” he added, that it doesn’t do to dwell on our smaller swarms.

This summer, Prime Stock Theatre’s Bard on Bower will be back — hopefully with plenty of sun and very few mosquitoes — to present the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as the tragedy Richard II.

The ever-popular comedy that kicks off on July 9 will tell the story of meddling fairies who wrongly pair up four Athenian lovers.

Beaune said A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in a fantasy world where an Athenian duke is preparing to marry an Amazonian queen, while another couple’s love story is thrown off course by a fairy named Puck, who applies magic to play a trick on the fairy queen.

More intrigue — but this time of the political variety — will be seen when Richard II comes to the outdoor stage on July 15.

This tragedy, about an entitled political leader who feels betrayed when those closest to him begin to start questioning his suitability for office.

Sound familiar?

Beaune said it was the parallels that can be drawn from Alberta’s and Canada’s political scenes these days that made this play, about a king who ticks off his nobles and falls from grace, a timely choice.

Real-life connections with the Richard II plot “were one of the reasons the play was pitched to me,” admitted Beaune, with a chuckle ”The story is very current in Alberta and right across Canada… (Discussion about) what makes a good leader is very current.”

In years to come, Beaune said he would like to expand Bard on Bower’s audience beyond Red Deer, or even central Alberta.

He envisions a day when people from Calgary will decide to meet up with their friends from Edmonton to jointly enjoy Red Deer’s cultural offerings.

For more information about the Bard on Bower festival, which will run this year featuring short Bard in the Box previews from July 9 to 24, please visit primestocktheatre.com.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Prime Stock Theatre actors Layne Zazalak and Allison Weninger rehearse a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will run in repertoire with Richard II during Red Deer’s Bard on Bower season in July. (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)

Prime Stock Theatre actors Layne Zazalak and Allison Weninger rehearse a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will run in repertoire with Richard II during Red Deer’s Bard on Bower season in July. (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)