In a side room of the Douglas Park recreation centre in Langley City, three confused characters were trying to sort out the duties of a watchman.
“… you are to bid any man stand, in the prince’s name,” Dogberry told the second watchman.
“How if a’ will not stand?” the second watchman asked.
Dogberry, not a deep thinker, was momentarily speechless, then suggested the watchman should simply take no notice, let the offending person leave, “and thank God you are rid of a knave.”
Dogberry’s second-in-command, the elderly Verges, chimed in to say if someone will not stand when bidden, “he is none of the prince’s subjects.”
Shawn McGrory as Dogberry, Dayna Coulter as the second watchman and Lisa Beaulieu as Verges were practising their lines before last Sunday’s auditions for the Bard in the Valley production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Out in the hallway, real-life couple Spenser Dunlop and Ann-Marie Zak were warming up by verbally sparring as Benedick and Beatrice, the central characters of the Shakespeare play, two would-be lovers who conceal their feelings for each other with witty banter.
“I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing,” a fiery Beatrice said.
What was supposedly a discussion about other people then took a sudden turn.
“By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me,” Benedick declared.
There were 14 parts up for grabs in the 2017 Bard in the Valley (BIV) production, some involving multiple characters.
Much Ado About Nothing will be directed by Dylan Coulter, who has performed major Shakespearean roles in previous productions of Julius Caesar and The Taming of the Shrew.
The comedy will be the first directorial effort for Coulter, a graduate of Langley Fine Arts School who went on to study theatre and English at the University of the Fraser Valley and film at the Vancouver Film School.
Coulter views the play as a comedy that is also an “an almost-tragedy.”
“I love the fact that it’s kind of approaching those old kind of stereotypes of tragedy and then it veers back into comedy,” Coulter said.
About 60 people are involved in staging the popular Bard in the Valley outdoor productions.
“We’ve had a consistently large audience at the performances right from the beginning,” said Diane Gendron, president of Bard in the Valley.
Gendron likes to tell people who are a little intimidated by Shakespeare to attend any of the free Langley performances.
“Some people say, ‘I don’t understand Shakespeare,’ but if they just come to the performances, relax, and let the words roll over them, and watch what’s going on, on the stage, it all just becomes very clear.”
The 2017 Bard in the Valley season is set to open on June 29 on the lawn in front of the historic community hall in Fort Langley.
The performance will be followed by one on June 30, and another on July 1 during the Fort Langley Canada Day celebrations.
Then the production will move to the Township 7 Winery on the weekends of July 7, 8 and 9 and July 14 and 15.
Finally, the set will move to Douglas Park for eight performances on the Spirit Square stage on the weekends of July 20-23 and July 27 to 30.
More info can be found online at www.bardinthevalley.com.