This year’s Freewill Shakespeare Festival is billing itself as the Summer of Love. In keeping with the festival’s tradition, audience members will be treated to two plays, one a tragedy and one a comedy, showing off the light and dark aspects of romance.
Love’s Labour’s Lost tells the story of four French noblemen swearing off women in order to focus on their studies, only to be immediately infatuated with four French noblewomen who come to their court.
“The concept is [that] those four male students are a little bit like the Beatles when they swore off all their vices and went to see the Maharishi,” says festival director Marianne Copithorne.
She notes that director Jim Guedo is setting the play in the late ’60s /early ’70s, playing upon the “Summer of Love” concept with the show design. Her own play, Romeo and Juliet, will look more traditionally Elizabethan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less relevant to a modern audience.
“There’s so much hatred between these two clans, the Capulets and the Montagues, and what’s it all about? And why doesn’t it ever stop? It has resonance today with even what’s happened in Orlando, with hate crimes, and the Republicans never agreeing with the Democrats and Trump being such a crazy person,” Copithorne says. “It takes a real tragedy to move people. And if you’ve been watching CNN right now, as far as what’s been going on in Orlando and how people are just so desperate to get over homophobia or racism or hatred, just hatred—how do you do that if it’s so ingrained since almost the beginning of time?”
Romeo and Juliet delves into these age-old questions, and they’re the sorts of ideas Copithorne has been thinking about as she’s been putting the play together. She’s also been busy developing new festival attractions, like an already sold-out High Tea and Date Night, to complement the theatre.
“We want to create events where people can come down pre-show while the festival is on and have a great experience,” Copithorne says. “A dinner, food, or some kind of entertainment that supports what is actually going to happen on stage.”
Until Sun, Jul 17 (8 pm; 2 pm weekend matinees) Love’s Labour’s Lost on odd dates and all weekend matinees, Romeo and Juliet on even dates
Hawrelak Park, $20 – $30