(A Company of Fools is returning to Stittsville with their stellar cast. Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ will fill the air at Alexander Grove Park on July 29. Photos: A Company of Fools)
After two long years, a Company of Fools returns with its Torchlight Shakespeare in the park Summer Tour. This summer, a Company of Fools presents The Tempest, touring to over 40 local parks throughout Ottawa and beyond, including Stittsville’s Alexander Grove Park on July 29th at 7:00 p.m.
Presented by a stellar cast of Fools both new and old – with a few puppets thrown in for good measure – playing 13 different roles to tell one of Shakespeare’s most magical stories, the Fools’ reimagining of The Tempest is filled with magic, music, and merriment. The story’s plot: Exiled to a deserted island twelve years ago, Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, plots his revenge on the man who usurped his throne: his own brother, Antonio. As a ship bearing Antonio draws closer to the island, Prospero uses all his wit and mystical powers to ensure he can enact his plan of reclaiming his power and establishing his daughter, Miranda, as princess in a rival kingdom. But in order to do so Prospero must confront his true enemy – himself. Grappling with freedom and forgiveness, will Prospero be able to see what truly matters before it’s too late?
A Company of Fools’ Artistic Director, Nick Leno, describes what he is most excited about for this year’s show, “We’ve set the story in 1920s New Orleans and commissioned a jazz inspired musical score to set the mood. The play contains ‘spirits’ that are represented in our production as a band of giant animals playing musical instruments. Watching young children in the audience get up and dance with a giant pig, frog, and rabbit is a true delight. From Shakespeare nerds to small children – this production has something for everyone!”
Among the team are veteran Fools performers Geoff McBride (Midsummer’s Night Dream, Romeo & Juliet) and Kate McArthur (Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet), as well as some new Fools. Stittsville resident Cara Pantalone is among the newest Fools, but she is not new to Shakespeare – having performed several productions with Shakespeare BASH’d in Toronto. Cara recently moved back to Stittsville after 20 years in Toronto and has performed and taught across Canada. Watch out for Cara in The Tempest, where she plays Stephano (a drunk butler), Alonso (the King), and a 7′ tall frog who plays ukulele.
The Cast and Crew:
When asked what A Company of Fools enjoys most about performing in Stittsville and around Ottawa, Nick says, “Well, we love to visit the Crave Tacos food truck on our dinner break! But what we love more than tacos (if that’s possible) is the opportunity to bring professional theatre directly to the residents of Stittsville. Residents might be looking at a 30-minute drive into the downtown core in order to experience live theatre. Not with us! We build a theatre right in your backyard at Alexander Grove park.”
The Tempest runs from June 20th to August 13th, Mondays through Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. The cost is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $20 per person. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, bug spray, picnic, and your sense of humour. Pass-the-hat donations are collected at the end of the performance and can be submitted in the form of cash, credit card, cheque, or bars of gold. More information on the show, as well as a detailed schedule, can be found on the Fools’ website.
Nick and the rest of the Fools are thrilled to be able to perform for audiences once again. “There’s nothing we love more than lacing up our converse sneakers and touring community parks across the region. Not being able to perform has been incredibly challenging, but seeing our audience again over the past few weeks has made it all worthwhile. After the last two years, all of us could use a bit of laughter and human connection. We’re so grateful to offer that opportunity in 40 parks across the region for by-donation admission, so everyone can get in on the experience regardless of their geography or income.”