Turn on any computer, Google “Shakespeare” and the eponymous search engine will return a staggering 57,700,000 results – give or take a few – and in 0.63 seconds no less.
Not bad for someone who died 401 years ago.
Love him or hate him, William Shakespeare remains the most popular playwright in the world. “Good friends, for Jesus’ sake forbear,” pleads the bard’s epitaph, “to dig the bones enclosèd here.” But attempts to mine his imagination are still underway, all around the globe, led by brand new websites like www.shakespeareances.com, “a website for anybody with a passion for Shakespeare; on stage, on screen, on the road, and in the home; a conduit for exploring how a 450-year-old English dude still matters in the 21st century; a community for everybody to share their own Shakespeareances.”
There is no doubt that Ben Johnson was right: “He was not of an age, but for all time.” And this year in particular, summer Shakespeare is returning to the South Okanagan with what www.shakespeareances.com has deemed the most popular play in the canon (in terms of sheer number of performances), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” offered by the St. Andrew’s Players out of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Penticton.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is thought to have been written for an aristocratic wedding. The play deftly combines both four plots and four sets of characters – not only rubes and nobles, but a dreamlike quicksilver band of fairies that haunt the forest by moonlight.
The resulting concatenation of wit and wordplay not only dazzles, but provides Shakespeare with considerable room to explain why, as young Lysander tell us, “the course of love never did run smooth.”
From a production point of view, what delights about “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is how easily it can provide children with a first experience of Shakespeare. Joining adult actors, the St. Andrew’s production brings seven children to the stage, many of whom also appeared in its December 2016 production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Colin Cross and Karla Hennig plays Wednesday/Thursday August 9-10 at 7 p.m. at Tinhorn Creek winery, and Friday/Saturday August 11-12 at 7 p.m. at Township 7 Winery in Penticton, and at Township 7 on Sunday, August 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 at the Dragon’s Den in Penticton, at host wineries or at the door. There is free admission for children 12 and under.