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Langley audiences get to see if this year’s Shakespeare production measures up

Many local residents are part of the 30 member Bard in the Valley team
Dayna Coulter to play Isabella, a novice who takes her vows to be a nun at Bard in the Valley’s latest production, Measure For Measure .

Dayna Coulter auditioned for Bard In the Valley’s (BIV) latest production, Measure For Measure in the beginning of 2020.

But soon, the read-thru was postponed due to COVID and her team made the “necessary decision” to cancel the show for that year.

In 2021, they wanted to put on a show again, but not something as big as Measure for Measure, Coulter explained.

So, team BIV did The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which had a cast of three who rehearsed with masks and social distancing.

Entering into 2020, Coulter had high hopes and wanted to perform on stage in front of a live audience, again.

To her surprise, things got better this year.

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She read for the role of Isabella in 2020, and two years later she was offered the role now that BIV can finally bring the show to local stages.

“I have been looking forward to this show ever since I was cast in 2020,” said the D.W. Poppy graduate.

“Some of the cast were not able to return to their parts, as life circumstances change during the two year. But, many were and it has been so wonderful to finally get to tell this story,” she explained.

BIV started the run with ticketed ($35) shows at Township 7 Winery July 7 to 17. The amateur theatrical group will be hosting four evening shows at the Spirit Square stage in Douglas Park July 28 to 31. This is a ticketed show, as well, with $25 tent seats or a suggested $10 donation for general seating.

Then, the thespians move out to Abbotsford’s Eco Dairy from Aug. 4 to 7, for another ticketed ($35/each) show. For an additional amount, audience members can book a gourmet picnic meal.

The group has been performing in Douglas Park since 2010 and in the winery since 2013.

BIV has never staged Measure for Measure before, and Coulter is looking forward to the show.

She plays Isabella, a novice who takes her vows to be a nun. Her brother, Claudio, is arrested and is sentenced to be beheaded, so she goes to Lord Angelo to plead for his life.

Coulter admitted that there are some similarities between her and the character she is playing.

“Isabella believes in God, heaven, and that she has been forgiven through no strength of her own. I share those same beliefs, but that is where our similarities end.”

The story starts when Duke Vincentio appoints the pious Lord Angelo to rule Vienna, while he leaves town.

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In actuality, the Duke goes undercover as a friar to see if Lord Angelo is actually as moral as his reputation.

Coulter said the show will inspire conversations.

“There are many comedic moments, but there are also deep questions about how power corrupts and how immorality and forgiveness often uncomfortably co-exist.

“The characters are complex and flawed, and audiences respond to them so differently every night,” she added.

Working as a teacher in the Langley School District, Coulter is a long-time Langley resident.

She fell in love with theatre in Grade 2 when she appeared in her school Christmas show.

“From then, I was hooked,” she said continuing shows in high school, before studying theatre through the University of the Fraser Valley.

She and her husband both went to Langley Fine Arts School from Grades 1 through 12.

The couple had planned on having a baby after their show in 2020. But when COVID hit and not many theatre opportunities were available, they went ahead with the baby plan.

Two years later, when they were offered their original roles, Coulter felt grateful.

“Now, in a very different stage of life, accepting these roles would be completely impossible without so many people rallying around to support us,” she said. “It really is a gift, and I am so excited to have this opportunity.”

The duo joins rehearsals with their toddler watching from the side.

“[The toddler] has also been listening to us rehearse and has started to say ‘Fie! Fie! Fie!’”

BIV is a registered charity with a goal to bring Shakespeare to all. It is run by volunteers.

For the Measure For Measure production, there are nine people in the cast and 21 in the crew.

Find out more information or book tickets online.


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Tanmay Ahluwalia

About the Author: Tanmay Ahluwalia

Tanmay Ahluwalia is a journalist with a digital mindset and a proud alumnus of the University of Delhi.
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