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Freewill Shakespeare Festival goes on the road amid Hawrelak Park closure

Through rocky seas, unknown islands and magic, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival is bringing The Tempest to your doorstep.

“It’s kind of taking us back to the old times, getting in a horse and buggy and going to different parks and putting on a show and telling a story to different communities,” said Chariz Faulmino, who plays Miranda in the show.

The festival will be moving its whole show, including the set, to a new community centre each week for the next month to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

Due to lengthy construction delays at Hawrelak Park, where the festival usually takes place, the company has had to pivot how it usually puts on shows. The amphitheatre usually houses the festival.

“We had to find a way to keep doing what we love to do, which is bring Shakespeare to parks and this is a unique way to do it; we’re in hockey rinks this year,” said David Horak, artistic director of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival.

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The theatre industry as a whole has been trying to navigate rough waters as it still tries to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Theatre Calgary’s annual Shakespeare by the Bow program is cancelled this year due to financial constraints.

But Horak thinks changing the festival’s structure will help attract new audiences.

“This is a very family-friendly production that we’re doing as well,” he said. “Even little ones are going to enjoy it.”

Nadien Chu, who plays playing Prospera, a gender-bent version of the character Prospero, said this isn’t a new model the company has used.

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She noted the company did a travelling show during COVID.

“It was a wonderful way to connect to the audiences,” said Chu.

“We’re bringing the show to you rather than you having to come to the show.”

Moving scaffolding around the city brings a few logistical challenges, according to Horak.

“We usually do a comedy and a tragedy, but this year, because we’re moving around, we thought it best to just try the one,” he said.

“The great thing about The Tempest is it’s got comedy, it’s got tragedy, it has romance, it’s got everything.”

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The festival begins on June 20 at the Crestwood Community League.

It will then move to Kenilworth from June 25 to 30, Lessard from July 2 to 7 and Sherbrooke from July 9 to 14.

“Each community has a totally different flavour (and) a totally different vibe,” said Horak.

Due to lengthy construction delays at Hawrelak Park, where the Freewill Shakespeare Festival usually takes place, the company has had to pivot how it usually puts on shows. Global News

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