We all know parks are for playing in but this summer parks in Ottawa are turning into stages for a different kind of play—Outdoor Theatre. Kitchissippi parks will be hosting Bear& Co. for Shakespearian fun and entertainment.
This season in a park near you enjoy the outdoors, bring some food and have a laugh with the western themed production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.
We caught up with the troupe at Iona Park, where Kirkwood neighbours and visitors from far away gathered in a circle with food and drink.
Jeanette Etel and her sons Jory and Josh Guptill from Kengsington Avenue shared some food and laughs at the park performance. It was her first time watching this troupe with her kids. I loved it. I thought it was great, it was enough slapstick to hold the boys’ attention,” she said. “Jory is only three and he’s tired, but he was totally into it.”
“I picked this location as a central location because we are all at different places,” says Danielle Nowe. She hails from Bells Corners. Her and her friends Natalie Leduc and Iricilla Padaratz are English Lit majors, so Shakespeare in the park is a summer time must see. “It was our second Shakespeare this year and we’ll be seeing at least three more.” The group brought snacks, and enjoyed the performance together.
“Last year was our first year as a professional show,” says Anna Lewis, director and actress in the production. She worked with Salamander Theatre for Young Audiences before branching off with some other eager actors to start their own production.
“We usually do a three quarter thrust stage but this year we did four sides,” she says, explaining the setup. The rounded stage makes the play very inviting and even more intimate. “When the audience gets a chance to see the reactions of the rest of the audience, it’s almost like permission to enjoy or to react, and you get to see how other people are doing that, and it creates a sense of an event,” says Lewis.
Ryan Jackson biked down from Kirkwood Avenue. His ride made the perfect seat to enjoy the outdoor performance. “Yeah, it was good. Never seen the plays in the park,” he says. “I heard about them years ago, but I didn’t actually hear about one again until now.”
During the performance, a loud plane flies overhead, unexpected but welcomed by the quick-witted actors. It becomes a part of the performance and everyone erupts in laughter. Lewis says this is what outdoor theatre is all about—organic moments that make every performance special.
“It is really the actors reacting, when you are in a park there are so many things you can’t control that it makes you be really present and audiences pick up on that,” she says.
Upcoming Kitchissippi performances:
July 19: Hintonburg Park, 7 p.m.
July 20: Clare Gardens Park, 7 p.m.
July 30: Reid Park, 7 p.m.