Candace Radcliffe goes over plans with fellow teacher Rick Harmon.

Perchance to dream in Crescent Beach

Shakespeare by the Sea envisioned for theatre-goers

You’ve heard of Bard On The Beach – but how about Shakespeare By The Sea?

Producing the classic works of William Shakespeare each summer in her own (figurative) backyard has been a dream of  Candace Radcliffe, Earl Marriott Secondary drama teacher, for years.

But now, the Crescent Beach resident – with her Beach House Theatre creative partners, former Marriott drama guru Rick Harmon and Marriott grad/set designer extraordinaire Nicole Chartrand – has met all the initial challenges of achieving the goal.

An outdoor – but sheltered – inaugural Shakespeare By The Sea production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been given the green light by the City of Surrey for five performances Aug. 15-19, 2012 at Crescent Beach. The talented team, which created a memorably magical version of the bard’s most accessible classic at Marriott in 2005, plans to transform the parking lot area adjacent to Blackie Spit into a lit open-air theatre with some 200-250 seats under an arching tent.

A tiered stage set will have the most dynamic backdrop imaginable – in the team’s words: “the incredible natural stage of Blackie Spit in the background.”

“We feel like Crescent Beach is the star,” said Radcliffe, adding that much thought and discussion with city officials has gone into choosing a performance area that works best for the company and the community.

“We didn’t want to be confrontational with anybody,” she said.

“We’re just so excited about the potential for the project and what it could be.”

The weather, of course, is always an imponderable when an outdoor event is planned in B.C.

“We have chosen what is, historically, the warmest, driest period of the year,” said Harmon. “But no matter what the weather is, the show will go on.”

It’s likely there will be no argument about that from the actors, for whom Radcliffe and Harmon plan to draw on some keen alumni from Marriott productions. The team also plans to open up casting to the community at large early next year.

“We’re looking at a broad age range, generally anywhere from 19 to 60,” Radcliffe said.

“We’re also going to need a large group of volunteers.”

The organizers also see Shakespeare By The Sea as an opportunity to mentor youth, particularly in the many behind-the-scenes technical roles required to create an instant outdoor theatre.

“This will be the first time we have done a production that isn’t in an existing theatre,” admitted Harmon, whose directing credits also include many community shows with the Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Peace Arch Musical Theatre Society.

To make the Beach House Theatre/Shakespeare By The Sea project a reality will require genuine community support – including significant financial contributions from individual donors and corporate sponsors to the tune of some $70,000-$80,000.

Fundraising is currently underway, with a major limited-ticket event planned for Morgan Creek Golf Club for Feb. 25.

Just getting to this point has been an intense experience, they said – including meeting all the requirements of establishing a non-profit society.

But they’re happy they have a board of directors with a strong background in the arts – and the business of arts – including former Marriott principal, and current Tamanawis Secondary principal, Margaux Molson.

“It’s one of the most incredible groups of people I’ve ever worked with,” Radcliffe said.

And it’s not lost on the team that the project has many potential tie-ins with local businesses and promoting the Semiahmoo Peninsula – and Crescent Beach in particular – as a destination.

It’s their hope that many others will see the potential, and want to get on the band wagon.

For more information on how to get involved with the project, visit www.beachhousetheatre.org or call Radcliffe at 604-710-4929.

 

 

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