There's no doubt that if Shakespeare was alive today, he'd definitely be a West Coast surfer dude, spending most of his time bumming around local beaches. Well maybe not, but Vancouver's annual Bard on the Beach festival catches a little of that spirit with a summer-long theatrical run that's arguably the city's most successful and enduring arts event.
Under the creative guidance of twinkle-eyed actor-manager Christopher Gaze, the festival (known simply as 'Bard' among locals) has grown faster than the pile-up of dead bodies accumulating at the end of Hamlet. Attendance has increased from just 6000 visitors in 1990 – when there was one play and 35 performances – to over 100,000 per year.
The not-for-profit company now employs 30 professional actors every season, plus expert directors, technicians and designers. There's also a dedicated team of volunteers to keep order on show nights. Before catching a show, the audience spends its time here sipping wine from the bar tent or poking around the Bard-related gift shop – the perfect place to pick up that Macbeth manga comic or quill-wielding Shakespeare action figure.