Shakespeare in the Park takes over the Heritage Amphitheater for three weeks
By Katrina Turchin | June 9, 2022
The Freewill Shakespeare Festival makes its grand return to Hawrelak Park’s Heritage Amphitheatre after two years.
“It feels great to be back,” says David Horak, Freewill’s artistic director. “I was reminded when we walked back in to Hawrelak Park that the amphitheatre is really a jewel of Edmonton. There’s not a lot of cities that have something like what we have there, and I am not entirely sure all Edmontonians realize that.”
For the first time in its history, Freewill Shakespeare presents Measure for Measure. The play was written in 1603. When Duke Vincentio sets out on a mysterious business trip, he leaves the cares of the state to his trusted minister Angelo, who’s instructed to enforce discipline where he sees fit. Measure for Measure is a mixture of comedy and tragedy. The show is adapted and directed by Nancy McAlear.
Freewill’s second show is the popular A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was last performed at the festival in 2013. The play follows four Athenians who run away to the forest where they meet Puck the fairy, who makes both of the boys fall in love with the same girl. Horak adapted and directed the show, and says he couldn’t think of a better Shakespearean play to perform outdoors.
“It’s a funny kind of play because there’s all this magic and people falling in and out of love, and they run into a forest,” says Horak. “It’s great doing it outside because we don’t have to build a forest. It works really well being in a huge outdoor space because you can see all the actors running around through the audience and around the amphitheatre.”
This is Freewill Shakespeare’s last summer at the Heritage Amphitheatre, as Hawrelak Park is set to close for three years to rebuild, however Horak says the show will go on elsewhere.
The Freewill Shakespeare Festival runs rain or shine from June 14 to July 10, with no shows scheduled on Mondays. Shows start at 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays, and Saturday and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m.
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A Midsummer’s Night Dream will run on even dates and Measure for Measure will run on odd dates. A pay-what-you-will offer is available for Tuesday and Saturday matinees. General tickets are $35 or $25 for students and seniors. Children 10 years old and under are free.
A variety of special events are hosted throughout the festival like wine tastings, cask nights, picnics and a feast.