The 26th season of the Shakespeare by the Sea will open on Saturday with its production of “As You Like It.”
This year, rather than staging two plays, Shakespeare by the Sea will be taking “As You Like It” to three different parks around St. John’s.
The 12 performances will be spread evenly across Bannerman Park, Bowering Park Amphitheatre, and Kenny’s Pond Park.
New artistic director Paul Rowe chose the comedy because it is set largely outdoors in the forest, making it the ideal play to perform in a park.
“We’re trying to find a new direction after 25 years,” Rowe said of the changes that have been made to Shakespeare by the Sea this season.
The three locations present new challenges for the actors, director and stage crew who need to shape the performance around the spaces they in which they will perform.
“We get to try these different locations and people in different parts of town will be encouraged to come down,” said Rowe, who hopes that by moving the production around the city, more people will have a chance to enjoy the productions.
In keeping with the spirit of performing the plays in public parks, this year’s performances are admission by donation only. The goal in removing a set ticket price was to make the shows more affordable for families and people without much disposable income to come and enjoy the performance.
Because of the transition to a donation system, it will not be possible to pre-purchase tickets for performances, but donations can be made online in advance the performance via a GoFundMe campaign.
Shakespeare by the Sea is a volunteer theatre company that has rehearsed over several months to prepare for its upcoming performances.
“The thing that is most exciting for me is to finally see the company members getting that chance to play,” said Rowe, who is looking forward to seeing the efforts of actors, costumers, and stage crew come to fruition.
“We’re really hoping we’ll get a nice day and a nice crowd to perform in front of,” Rowe said of his hopes for the first performance of “As You Like It” this coming weekend.
The Shakespeare by the Sea will continue this year with its “Shake It Up” performances of condensed works of Shakespeare designed for young children at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market on Saturdays until Aug. 11 (admission by donation). “Tunes and Tales,” a show in partnership with Kelly Russell, will also continue this year at the Crow’s Nest Officers Club on Monday evenings until Aug. 20 and opened to a sold-out house on Jul. 2 (admission $25, students/seniors/unwaged $20).
Performances of “As You Like It” will be near the baseball field in Bannerman Park on Jul. 7,8, 13, and 14, Bowering Park Amphitheatre on Jul. 21,22,28, and 29, and Kenny’s Pond Park on Aug. 4,5,11, and 12. All performances begin at 6 p.m.
More information about Shakespeare by the Sea and the GoFundMe campaign can be found at www.shakespearebytheseafestival.com.