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Shawnigan Players asking ‘Have you met Cymbeline?’

Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival returns in August with one of Shakespeare’s less-known works
(From left to right) Jamie Unrau, Senya Pike, and Brian Dennison are three of the lead actors in the Shawnigan Players’ production of Cymbeline which will be shown at Gem O’ The Isle Farm in Duncan, B.C.

The Bard returns to the great outdoors in Cowichan next month with a production of a play you may not have heard of.

From Aug. 4 to 14, the 11th edition of the Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival is back with a Shawnigan Players performance William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

The play will be directed by Cowichan community theatre veteran Alex Gallacher. A retired school principal. Gallacher has been involved with the Shawnigan Players since 1986 and has directed community performances for more than 30 years.

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, but Gallacher is confident that it will be well-received.

“It’s obscure in the sense that people don’t typically know the play,” he said. “But it’s quite a magical bucolic piece.”

The main character is a princess named Imogen, who Gallacher described as “one of the greatest heroines that Shakespeare wrote.”

The story is set in Ancient Britain during a time of political tension between the British and Roman empires. The plot revolves around Imogen’s journey to be reunited with her spouse, Posthumus who was banished by her father, King Cymbeline.

Imogen will be played by Senya Pike who grew up in Duncan and trained as a film actress at the Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Gallacher described Pike as “quite an accomplished actress.”

“I think because I know so many people acting in the play and know so many people in Duncan, it’ll be great,” Pike said.

Like many of Shakespeare’s works, Cymbeline does contain some mature subject matter, however, Gallacher and his team pride themselves on putting on a performance that is entertaining for people of all ages.

“We work really hard on the rehearsals because we want to make sure the play is understandable to everyone in the audience,” Gallacher said.

After seeing outdoor performances of Shakespeare performances at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Gallacher decided he wanted to replicate that environment at home in Duncan.

As such, all nine performances will take place outdoors at Gem O’ the Isle Farm located at 2465 Koksilah Road.

Tickets are available online, with regular tickets selling for $25 and family passes — which accommodate one adult and four children or two adults and three children — going for $50.

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