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Six Shakespeare festivals to see this summer Where to find the best of the Bard at festivals across North America

Photo courtesy of madhava.com.

Photo courtesy of madhava.com.

Summer has long been renowned as the ideal time for bathing in the sun, enjoying delicious icy treats, travelling to idyllic locations, and shedding away any lingering residue of the winter blues.

But summer is also the season when some fantastic Shakespeare festivals pop up across North America. If you are planning to travel to the States or another Canadian province this summer, I suggest squeezing in some time for the Bard. Here is a list of six awesome festivals showcasing the works of Shakespeare this summer. 

Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival, which takes place in Stratford, Ontario, is one of the most celebrated Shakespeare festivals in the world. It offers a medley of classical, contemporary, musical, and Shakespearean theatre. This summer, the festival’s plays are centred around the theme of discovery and presenting several iconic plays such as Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Sound of Music, Carousel, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Alchemist.

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan takes place in one of the most beautiful places in Canada, the banks of the Saskatchewan River, from the middle of July to August. Interestingly, the two plays in this year’s festival, Othello and Much Ado about Nothing, offer audiences a unique spin on the original stories. Much Ado about Nothing is set post-Second World War, while Othello presents the struggles of an Aboriginal protagonist.

Bard on the Beach

If you don’t plan to travel to a distant location this summer, you still have the option of attending Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, one of the largest (and, in my opinion, one of the best) professional Shakespeare festivals. This year, they are presenting three works of Shakespeare as well as a new work set during Shakespeare’s time, namely The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Shakespeare’s Rebel.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Taking place in Ashland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a great option for Vancouverites who want to remain within a drivable distance from home. The festival offers a longer-running season of theatre from February to November and is playing a mix of Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean works, such as Much Ado about Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls, The Count of Monte Cristo, and more.

Free Shakespeare in the Park

For anyone lucky enough to be in New York this summer, Free Shakespeare in the Park offers free theatre viewing to its audiences in one of the hottest tourist spots in New York City: Central Park. One of the main goals of the festival’s organizers is to make theatre accessible to all audiences, and the festival even offers a Mobile Unit that travels to and performs in different locations within New York City. The two Shakespearean plays being performed this summer are The Tempest and Cymbeline.

Utah Shakespeare Festival

Located in Cedar City, Utah, the Utah Shakespeare festival has been crowned with many prestigious awards in the past, including an Emmy Award and a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional theatre. This year, the festival runs from June 25 to October 31 and will put on eight classical and contemporary plays, such as Henry IV Part Two, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Dracula, and South Pacific.