4 November 2019

Dream program as ANU joins Lakespeare's summer of love

| Ian Bushnell
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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Some of A Midsummer Night’s Dream cast. Heidi Silberman (who will play Oberon), Damon Baudin (Demetrius), Marni Mount (Hermia) and Katarina Smalley (Titania). Photos: Supplied.

The producers of Shakespeare by the Lakes will add the ANU’s new Kambri Precinct to its locations when it presents performances of the magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream next February in what they are calling a free summer of Shakespearean love.

Lakespeare and Co has announced 12 months of Shakespearean training, innovation and tragi-comedy, including a partnership with the ANU and a winter season at iconic Canberra locations, with the National Portrait Gallery the first venue to sign up.

The independent theatre company – founded by Taimus Werner-Gibbings, and created by Duncan Driver, Lexi Sekuless and Paul Leverenz – has announced that Shakespeare by the Lakes III: A Midsummer Night’s Dream will open on 14 February (St Valentine’s Day) at Tuggeranong Town Park.

Fast becoming a late summer fixture, Shakespeare by the Lakes III will also include performances at the National Library lawns and the ANU’s Kambri amphitheatre, adding another cultural event to the O-Week calendar for incoming students and newcomers to Canberra. Performances in Glebe Park are still to be confirmed.

The company is also negotiating with ACT Historic Places for performances in the grounds of Lanyon Homestead.

Lakespeare and Co’s six-month partnership with the ANU also includes Shakespeare workshops, the first of which is a booked-out event on 10 November, as well as the Lakespeare Verse Nerds series for ANU affiliates being held between now and Christmas.

The Sounds of Shakespeare on 10 November is a one-hour mega-mix extravaganza of the Bard’s best scenes and monologues, with Lakespeare Company actors Christopher Stollery, Lainie Hart, Christopher Samuel Carroll and Lexi Sekuless joined by new members Bojana Kos and Damon Baudin.

Mr Werner-Gibbings said the ANU was a perfect fit for Lakespeare’s workshops where people can become more acquainted with the language of the Bard, learn how Shakespeare sounds when acted and budding thespians can improve their performances.

Ms Sekuless said the ANU had wanted to activate what she said was now probably Canberra’s best amphitheatre.

“Given we’re all about language and accessibility and learning, it matches for us to be somewhere like the Australian National University,” she said.

The company will also stage more performances of its successful spin-off Shakespeare Down the Pub – irreverent performance atmospheres in some of Canberra’s merriest establishments, as reminiscent of the Globe Theatre circa 1600 as it is possible to get in the nation’s capital.

While the outdoor summer events remain free, the yet to be decided winter program will require a charge to cover venue hire and other costs.

To be launched in July 2020, Winter of Content will stage warm, intimate and atmospheric productions staged in Canberra’s premier cultural locations, partnering first with the National Portrait Gallery.

The Lakespeare crew in the amphitheatre at the new Kambri Precinct at the ANU

The Lakespeare crew in the amphitheatre at the new Kambri Precinct at the ANU.

Driven by Ms Sekuless, Winter of Content hopes to take the Bard into other locations such as Old Parliament House, which would be the perfect setting for the more political works about power and ambition such as Julius Caesar and Macbeth.

Mr Werner-Gibbings said Lakespeare wanted to make what can be sometimes intimidating theatre easier to get to, a little bit more relevant and recognisable.

”It’s about making use of what Canberra has to offer as opposed to forcing Canberra to like Shakespeare,” he said.

Shakespeare by the Lakes I and II were performed free in 2018 and 2019 to more than 9,200 people across nine nights in five locations.

The company relies on corporate sponsorship, some government funding and donations.

Mr Werner-Gibbings said the only location that had not attracted government funding was Tuggeranong, a situation he would like to see change considering “not a lot happens there and it’s where it’s needed most”.

He said some of the current sponsors had increased their support but the company was still seeking more help from the private sector to cover the costs of its expanding program.

Major sponsors include South.Point Shopping Centre, National Capital Toyota in Tuggeranong, and Beyond Bank, as well as support from MLC Finance Canberra and McDonald’s Conder, Erindale and Tuggeranong. Major partners include Event Audio Visual Services and Communities @Work.

To help make Shakespeare by the Lakes III the production Canberra deserves, contact the company at info@lakespeare.com.

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