BY TAIMUS WERNER-GIBBINGS
Origins: Shakespeare by the Lakes
Shakespeare by the Lakes clicked in July 2017 as if a few pieces from different jigsaws fell off the table into a new puzzle making sense from every angle.
I’d noticed there were rarely used public stages in Canberra’s pleasant parks. I was bothered by the lack of events in Tuggeranong and a perceived lack of interest in the district that many Tuggeranites had mentioned when we discussed ways of galvanising our community. I’d read that ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ in New York was incredibly popular and provocative - and had inspired similar successful free Shakespeare festivals around the world. I’d been told there were few opportunities in Canberra away from the Playhouse Theatre in Civic to see Shakespeare plays, let alone perform in them. I was motivated by the Cranberries’ first album title - "Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?" I twigged that Canberra has lakes, which rhymes with ‘Shakes’.
Immediately and instinctively it felt to me like a good and fun idea; performing some of western civilisation’s greatest texts for free, during summer evenings in Canberra and Queanbeyan’s parks, by Canberra and Queanbeyan’s lakes and rivers, for every person who wants to come.
I wanted to have a go.
So I got going.
Straight to Duncan Driver. He went to Lexi Sekuless, who went to Paul Leverenz. I also asked Cathy Day. All of them agreed it was a good idea, and all of them got to work. And so, as Lakespeare & Co., we were in (non-profit) show business.
We had an argument about which play to perform for our first go and then agreed on how we wanted to stage it. Lexi and Duncan started preparing the script, selecting the brilliant, talented and generous cast and directing the play (as well as becoming the faces of Much Ado About Nothing and delivering the spin-off Shakespeare sonnet festivals at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in January), Paul started handling and electrifying all elements of production and stage management, Cathy applied her event management expertise while I organised the venues, the clearances, the media and started asking people for help and companies for money.
Thanks to them and thanks to you we’ve made a beginning.
We’re not planning an ending anytime soon.