Freewill Shakespeare Festival returns to Hawrelak Amphitheater


Century after century – despite plagues and pandemics – Shakespeare bounces back.

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Century after century — plagues and pandemics notwithstanding Shakespeare bounces back.

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It’s a chcharacteristic of the bard youDa hatvid Horak, artistic director of the Freewill Shakespeare Festivalfeel blessed to to celebrate like him getting ready for next weeks to start up in Hawrelak Park.

We’ve been dealing with COVID for two years and we’ve reinvented ourselves to keep the business going and luckily it’s been pretty successful,” says Horak, who took the helm just before the virus hit in 2020. “Shakespeare is rather resilient; there’s a reason these plays have been performed for 400 years and still continue.

The 2020 festival has been postponed to 2021. Even so, abbreviatedsmall distribution versions of Mmuch ado about nothing and macbeth finished at Edmonton Fringe rather than in the 1.000 seats ampereHawrelak Park Theater – long the spectacular home of the Shakespeare festival.

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It should however be noted that both productions appreciated by an even wider audience in 2021 than normal. It’s because a creative pivot saw the tiny but tenaciouss company not only appearing at the Fringe but also at birthday parties andd community leagues Through the city.

Horak hopes some of the people who stumbled upon the shows in their neighborhoods Last year could be persuaded to buy a ticket for this year’s iteration in Hawrelak. A one-on-one at Free Will Beginners and devotees same: 2022 Perhaps the last time that the party is seen in his eternally popular location for at least three years. (City of Edmonton says it’s closing Hawrelak Park in 2023 for a Major refurbishment.)

Horak and his team have started researchingh alternative locationsbut there is no comparable covered areas for the festival (and other events such as Symphony Under the Sky) to perform outside rain or sun.

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“Everyone is hustling and trying to make friends on the city council and I hope I can bring people here and say, look at what we’re doing and what we’re bringing to the city,” Horak says. “We don’t give up.”

Horak’s brave attitude exemplifies the festival, which has honored Shakespeare through accessible and affordable productions since 1989. Crowd-pleasing promotions have for years included puppet shows, Shakespeare camps for youperformances together and pay what you want. Popular recent additions to the program include evenings with picnic basket, more theme wine and beer tastings which sell out quickly.

But in the end it’s about seeing a glorious, in two acts, complete on Shakespeare pproduction with creative staging and talented cast, who characteristics myny faces new and young this year 15 people together.

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The 2022 the comedy is audience favorite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Horak. It takes place on even dates between June 14 and July 10. The Host of Odd Dates Measure for measureknown as one of Shakespeare’s problems ppose for her ambiguous tone that combines elements of tragedy and comedy.

But don’t leave the term ‘gambling problem scare you. DI recorddirector Nancy McAlear, who adapted measure for measure for his Free will exithighlighted his “beautiful dense poetic text.

“What attracted me was the way it combines a bizarre mix of classic Shakespeare features of comedy that clash with really dark and dramatic themes,” says Montreal native McAlear, who was a lifelong Edmontonian before moving to Toronto a few years ago.

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Intended for an adult audience, Measure for Measure see stuff iinvolving changed bed mates and mismatched heads Position on the bottom of lust and, yes, nuns. Theit is also a dowry lost at sea. It is ppretty much your classic Shakespeareyet McAlear promises a surprising feminist resumption of the end.

For his part, Horak he saidWill be “leaning over in joy and ridicule” of A Dream of a summer night.

“I want it to be funny, silly, goofy and accessible,” he says.

It also takes a different approach to fairies, who are played like darched and pissed off in some productions, and downright mad in others.

“The fairies in this production are the most regular and normal people and they come (on stage) from the audience,” says Horak. “I don’t want to be too sentimental, but magic is really the audience for us.. They transform things and change things and make everything happen.

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Freewill Shakespeare Festival presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure

When: June 14 to July 10; tuesdayy to Sunday at 8 p.m.mthe participants on weekend and tuesday

Where: Hawrelak Park Heritage Amphitheater

Tickets: From $5 and available online at or on site 90 minutes before the performances

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