Shakespeare by the Lakes is for all people from all walks of life. It is a chance for anyone to wander on a summer evening down to a little-used concrete stage in a Canberra or Queanbeyan park by a lake or river to see and hear, for free, what all the fuss has been about for the last 400-odd years.
Our model of free public plays necessarily demands corporate sponsorship and public enthusiasm. Shakespeare by the Lakes is using this support to present four nights of fun, high-quality performances full of the talents of local professional artists. We aim to excite contemporary audiences with the timeless themes of great theatre by presenting them at the highest professional standards.
After some spirited inter-production committee debate, we chose to go hard and go funny with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - the bard’s astonishing screwball rom-com pre-dating all other screwball rom-coms by about 370 years. A wonderful cast and a killer production team have joined us. And the company have worked hard to honour the traditions of Shakespearean technique, taught at some of the world’s leading Shakespearean production houses, to make the text come alive for you.
Process for the actors
The 2018 company have undergone training in the John Barton and Peter Hall techniques for approaching Shakespeare. This work was developed in the 1960s when John was advisory director at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK. The detailed level of analysis outlined in this technique elicits the meaning and the music in Shakespeare. When done properly, actors and audience are musicians and storytellers all in one. You feel as if you are at a musical concert and a theatre performance at the same time. It is transformative and powerful beyond any other narrative experience.
Obviously, this treatment of the text became wildly popular throughout the UK and the world. Practitioners such as Cicely Berry, Trevor Nunn and Patsy Rodenburg have expanded the techniques. Peter Hall suggests that it takes three full days’ work to cover all the technique which can then be put into practise in rehearsal for a production. Our company began their Lakespeare journey with three days’ work in December before our rehearsals began in January. They have worked hard and I am certain you will be moved by their professionalism.
Of course, the only reason we have been able to present the first season of Shakespeare by the Lakes for free is because we’re getting a lot of help (and money) from many people and enough money (and help) from a few outstanding Canberra businesses and organisations. Event AV Services, Vikings Group, Tuggeranong Hyperdome, National Capital Toyota, MLC Advice, McDonald’s: Conder, Erindale, Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan, ICON Water, Cromwell Property Group, Communities at Work, Rotary Club of Tuggeranong, Tuggeranong Salvation Army, Francos of Canberra, XPG Security, ROJO Customs and the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council have all made this production possible.
Despite our brilliant support, our budget remains tight. We’ve curbed our creative instincts, focusing primarily on the performance, but we are fortunate to have Sunny Amoreena playing Balthasar and composing the music to Shakespeare’s song lyrics. She and her band are also our pre-performance entertainment. You see, we are not just a show; we are an event.
Future of Shakespeare by the Lakes
Shakespeare by the Lakes aims to be a yearly event on the cultural calendar for Canberra. The company wish to harness the professional talent in the capital to keep them here! The shows are also an opportunity for Canberra actors to push themselves by enhancing their technique and for younger, new actors to learn from those with experience and those who have worked interstate or overseas. Our goal is to move from a pro-am arrangement to professional company in the comings years, while keeping every performance absolutely free.
Whatever it is, whatever it will be, it’s all yours.
Of course, being yours, we’d really like you to tell us about it. Please let us know what you think about this year’s play and vote on next year’s play at our survey.
But most of all, have fun.
Taimus Werner-Gibbings, Duncan Driver, Lexi Sekuless, Paul Leverenz
BY THE LAKESPEARE & CO. Team