The Shawnigan Players are ready to present Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ this August live in Cobble Hill. (Submitted)

The Shawnigan Players are ready to present Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ this August live in Cobble Hill. (Submitted)

Cowichan Shakespeare Festival marks 10th anniversary with ‘The Winter’s Tale’

Moving and magical romance

This year in a new outdoor setting, the Shawnigan Players are celebrating their 10th year of presenting live classical theatre to eager audiences with the Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival, starting in August.

“It’s hard to believe that a full decade has passed since our first festival performance (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), and that since that time, our community group has gathered to give you 10 of the Bard’s iconic stories, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and The Tempest,” said a press release from the Shawnigan Players. “Following last summer’s ‘pandemic preview’, director Alex Gallacher has brought the company together once more to present the complete version of the moving and magical romance, The Winter’s Tale.”

Described as one of Shakespeare’s comedies that also incorporates elements of tragedy, the Shawnigan Players say, “The Winter’s Tale is an extraordinary tale of love and loss, redemption and grace that will transport you between realms and across time, and perhaps even offer a glimpse beyond this mortal world.”

The Players promise everything from live music to country dancing, with actors that run the gamut from troupe veterans to fresh faces, aged 10 to 93. The plot and characters are a typical Shakesperean mix.

“When King Leontes of Sicily suspects his wife Hermione of infidelity, he sets in motion a disastrous chain of events with devastating consequences,” say the Players. “Can time really heal all wounds, or will it take a miracle? Impassioned royalty, fiery noblewomen, clownish country folk, a sly pickpocket, and a secret princess are among the characters you’ll meet in this entrancing fable, which also features perhaps the most famous stage direction in English drama: ‘Exit, pursued by a bear.’”

This year’s festival is being held at a new venue, 3515 Watson Ave., in Cobble Hill, also known as the forest behind Evergreen Independent School.

The 2021 Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival runs Aug. 5-15, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 each or $30 for a family group of up to five. Find them at Ten Old Books, Mason’s Store, or online at Eventbrite.ca.

Live theatre