Langley’s own Ahnika Barber takes on one of the lead roles as Juliet, while Burnaby actor Reilly Ellis plays her love interest, Romeo. Supplied photo by Graham Bryan

Classic Shakespeare tragedy gets a futuristic twist

Bard in the Valley presents ‘Romeo and Juliet’ June 29 to July 29

One of Langley’s popular summer theatre attractions kicks off its ninth season next week.

Bard in the Valley (BIV) presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on three outdoor stages, June 29 to July 29.

The show is first staged on the lawn in front of the Fort Langley Community Hall, before moving on to Township 7 Winery and the Spirit Stage in Dougals Park.

Produced by BIV president Diane Gendron and directed by Jacq Ainsworth, a Taekwondo world champion, the classic tragedy takes on a futuristic twist with many exhilarating martial arts scenes.

It’s 300 years in the future, and the environment has drastically changed — the ice caps have melted and destroyed some of Eurasia’s coastal countries, causing people from Japan, India, Indonesia, Korea, China, Russia and Europe to emigrate. Wars have resulted, and the population has been greatly reduced.

In the town of Verona, martial law is in place to stop residents from engaging in open warfare.

A major landowner in the area, Capulet, is trying to lead with strength and solidarity, while the rival Montague family has won allies through ingenuity in battle.

But when the heirs of these two families — Juliet (played by Langley actress Ahnika Barber) and Romeo (played by Burnaby actor Reilly Ellis) — meet and fall in love, the families ideals about race, tradition and hate are challenged.

The production includes the talents of 60 actors, creative artists, crew and production members who all volunteer their time.

“When we first planned Romeo and Juliet as a martial arts romance, I knew we would need a strong and talented production team, and I have been lucky to have the very best, from the choreographers of the fight, intimacy and dance scenes to the production design, including costumes, set and graphics,” Ainsworth said in a press release.

“And my cast…wow! So much training and experience and some personal friendships have led this to be one of the closest, most trusting companies I’ve ever worked with. They come to rehearsal fully prepared to dig deeper into the script which means we are spending all our time mining the text for the truth, in the story and in the relationships, which has resulted in everyone involved feeling a gamut of emotions at every rehearsal.”

Chairs will be set up at all venues, and there is a concession. Audience members are welcome to come early, bring a blanket or lawn chair, and a picnic and spread out on the lawn in front of the stage. Donations are welcome to help cover production costs.

“BIV is delighted to offer director Jacq Ainsworth’s vision of this Shakespearean classic with its international flare and exciting martial arts fight scenes. Her passion for theatre, and understanding of this play in particular, is clearly apparent in every scene,” said Gendron in a press release.

“We’ve welcomed two new movement experts onto our team for this production — Phay Gagnon, a violence and intimacy choreographer from Burnaby and Jordan Plaster, a Taekwondo/Weapons Master from New Westminster.

“These two have added an exciting energy to the production.”

For more information, visit


Fort Langley Community Hall | Admission Free

  • June 29, 30 and July 1 (as part of the Canada Day Celebrations)
  • Performances begin at 7 p.m.

Township 7 Winery | Admission $20

  • July 6, 7, 8, 13 and 14
  • The Sunday performance is a matinee and begins at 2 p.m.
  • Evening performances begin at 7:15 p.m.
  • For tickets call 604-532-1766 or visit

Spirit Square Stage in Douglas Park | Admission Free

  • July 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 and 29
  • The Sunday performances are matinees only and begin at 2 p.m.
  • Evening performances begin at 7 p.m.

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