Larger casts were a feature of past Bard in the Valley performances, like this production of Much Ado About Nothing, but this year there will be just three actors on stage for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). (Black Press Media files)

Larger casts were a feature of past Bard in the Valley performances, like this production of Much Ado About Nothing, but this year there will be just three actors on stage for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). (Black Press Media files)

Bard in the Valley returns to live performing as restart opens performance opportunities

B.C. Restart Plan allows audiences to return to live theatre and movie houses

Bard in the Valley is back, and the Langley-based group is mounting a production that will give a comprehensive overview of every one of Shakespeare’s plays – sort of – in celebration.

Between June 30 and July 25, the theatrical group is performing the modern comedy The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a play that pays tribute to, and relentlessly spoofs, the works of the Bard, from bloodbaths like Macbeth to comedies like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The return of Bard in the Valley is part of the return of theatrical productions and movie theatres that will come with the second and third steps in the B.C. Restart Plan.

Step two, set for as early as June 15, allows for up to 50 people for seated indoor organized gatherings, including movie theatres and live theatres. Step one, already underway, allows up to 50 people for seated outdoor gatherings with safety protocols.

Last year, most in-person productions were cancelled, or turned virtual.

“When COVID hit, we had to cancel Measure for Measure last summer,” said Madison McArthur.

President of Bard in the Valley, she’s also co-director of this year’s play with Mandy Knopp.

This year, with fingers crossed that the COVID numbers would keep going down and vaccinations pay off, the team started holding auditions and rehearsals before May 1.

They hedged their bet by picking Complete Works, a production that uses only three actors who take on many, many, many roles over the course of a high-speed play.

“It definitely comes with challenges, because it requires such energy and moves at such a fast pace,” said McArthur.

Dylan Coulter and siblings Lauren and Nik Trotzuk are the cast of Complete Works, and McArthur said they’ve been rehearsing in masks – quite a task for a play that moves at breakneck speed.

“At the end, they all have red faces and they’re huffing,” said McArthur.

She said the play will appeal both to those who already know Shakespeare, and those who are new to his work.

The play has moments of improv and typically includes verbal audience participation.

There will be three performance locations this year, two in Langley and one in Abbotsford. The play will run at Douglas Park in Langley City from June 30 to July 4, and the Township 7 Winery from July 8 to July 19, as well as at the Eco Dairy in Abbotsford July 23 and 24. More about times and tickets can be found online at bardinthevalley.com.

COVID will change some things about the play, including the fact that every single audience member has to pre-register online for tickets – Bard in the Valley needs to keep a proper count of the audience and be able to reach people for contact tracing purposes.

READ MORE: Community groups still benefit from Langley City grants despite COVID

Other theatrical and performance venues are preparing to come back as well.

Langley’s Theatre in the Country has been running virtual performances for months, since the increase in restrictions last fall amid the second wave of COVID-19 put a stop to in-person events.

Movie theatres have also been closed since then, and according to a representative of Cineplex, there would be news shortly on the plans for Langley’s 19-screen theatre.

The Langley Little Theatre – for many years the Langley Players – won’t be opening right away, regardless of the changes of the restart. The Players merged recently with the Surrey Little Theatre, sold their Surrey property, and are about to begin renovations of the Langley playhouse on 200th Street in Brookswood.


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