How to Enjoy Shakespeare with Kids in Vancouver This Summer
Shakespeare may not be the first thing you think of when you’re planning activities with your kids, but it’s never too early to introduce children to the Bard.
We’re fortunate in Vancouver to have two theatre groups performing Shakespeare’s comedies this summer—in festive, outdoor environments that are sure to appeal to all.
Here’s where to take your young theatre-goers for an evening of Shakespeare and fun:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Granville Island
Recommended for all ages
Carousel Theatre presents a free, outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Granville Island from July 27 to August 11. This quintessential romantic comedy is performed by a talented group of actors aged 13-18 who are part of Carousel’s Teen Shakespeare program. What better way for children to discover Shakespeare than to see a young cast having fun with his plays?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a tale of magic and mischief. There’s an enchanted forest, a Fairy King and Queen, a playful wood sprite named Puck, a weaver who is turned into a half-donkey, and many other whimsical elements.
The play takes place at Performance Works Outdoor Stage on Granville Island, a wooden amphitheater beside Ron Basford Park. The natural setting makes a gorgeous backdrop, and the plentiful green space comes in handy for little ones that need to stretch their legs during the performance.
Festival grounds open at 6:30 p.m. with games and activities for children, and some food for purchase. There is limited seating on bleachers, so come early, or reserve a seat online for $6. You can also bring a blanket and sit on the grass near the stage.
The play begins at 7:30 p.m. and lasts 90 minutes, including intermission.
You might glimpse some future stars in this production. Previous participants in Carousel’s Teen Shakespeare program have gone on to perform on some of Canada’s top stages.
For more information: carouseltheatre.ca
As You Like It at Bard on the Beach
Recommended for ages 6+
It’s a sure sign of summer when the tents of Bard on the Beach go up in Vanier Park. This annual Vancouver tradition makes it easy to bring the kids, with specially-designed Family Nights to introduce children (aged 6 years and older) to Shakespeare.
This year’s Family Night production is a definite crowd-pleaser: a musical version of As You Like It featuring the music of the Beatles. The popular comedy has been updated to the 1960s, with Rosalind and Orlando escaping Vancouver for the Okanagan. There are 25 Beatles songs woven into the play, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “All You Need is Love”. The songs are all performed live by the talented and versatile cast.
At first glance, it might seem like this re-telling of As You Like It is far removed from the original, but the essence of the story and themes remain. Be sure to attend the exclusive pre-show talk designed to help kids get the most out of their experience. It takes place on the main stage and is included with Family Night admission. There will also be a food truck, photo booth, and other activities.
Upcoming Family Nights are on July 24 and August 21. The Bard site opens at 6:00 pm on these dates. The play starts at 7:30 pm and runs for about 2 hours and 30 minutes, including intermission. If you get to your seats about 15 minutes before curtain, you’ll catch a special onstage event that sets the tone for the play. It promises to be a great time for all!
For more information: bardonthebeach.org
Feature image credit: bardonthebeach.org