Canadian College of the Performing Arts instructor Adrienne Smook and Alexa MacDougall perform in Henry V in Victoria as part of the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival.

Oak Bay actor brings Shakespeare outside

In her outdoor debut, professional actor, instructor tackles Taming and Henry V

The magical light of sunset amps up the magic of Shakespeare says actor Adrienne Smook.

Smook, who shares her knowledge with students at the Canadian College of the Performing Arts in Oak Bay, is among those performing during the 24th Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival that features Henry V and The Taming of the Shrew until Aug. 16 on the grounds of Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus.

“It’s a beautiful venue. Experiencing these words out in nature is particularly affecting I think,” says Smook, who not only teaches at CCPA but spent her early years living in Oak Bay. “When you’re out there with the elements it makes it all the more real and exciting. There’s something about the little bit of breeze in your hair or little bit of rain.”

The long shadows and shifting colours of sunset along with the evening breeze are something the actors enjoyed during rehearsals heading into the start of the festival this week.

Smook portrays Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Fluellen in Henry V and works alongside two of her CCPA voice students, Alexa MacDougall and Ursina (Sina) Luther.

“It’s exciting to watch them use the skills they’ve been developing at the school,” Smook said of the students entering third year. “It’s a new level of appreciation for what training does for performers. To have known these students in class and then seeing them in the context of rehearsal … it’s very rewarding and inspiring.”

Henry V is about a new king determined to prove his right to rule a kingdom torn apart by strife. Insults from France lead Henry to make a rash decision to go to war. But his moving speeches, bravery and leadership lead his army to victory over the French, ending in his marriage to the Dauphine of France.

The Taming of the Shrew is about a merchant with two daughters, one who is sweet and mild-mannered, the other who is bad-tempered and cantankerous. Their suitors try everything to win their hearts, leading to false identities, secret weddings and hilarious fiascos. The festival’s acting company performs both plays led by classically trained professional mentor actors – Smook and Julian Cervello.

“We work with the director and artistic director to provide mentorship, education and professional formation for the rest of the cast, which includes acting students, community actors and two junior company members. The GVSF is a professional festival with an educational commitment to its grassroots in Victoria’s budding talent,” said Smook, who trained at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London. Both festival plays are directed by long-time society associate and festival founder, Clayton Jevne. “As an instructor I work primarily with students. In this context we’re all together as student, as professionals, (and) all exploring this work and then taking that work directly onto stage and into rehearsal performance,” Smook added.

Tickets are available online at ticketrocket.org, The Papery, Ivy’s Bookshop and at the festival. Tickets range from a $19 single play ticket to a $42 festival pass.

“This is a festival for everyone,”  said Karen Lee Pickett, artistic director. “Shakespeare’s works aren’t antiquated – they’re exciting, moving and engaging experiences, particularly in the open park setting of Camosun. Parents bring their children to our shows because they connect with the stories on stage.”

Henry V runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday while The Taming of the Shrew is Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until Aug. 16 at Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus. Picnic dinners, musical performances and pre-show presentations kick off most evenings.

“I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with audiences,” Smook said. “I’m looking forward to standing on stage, looking out and seeing all those faces and being able to share these beautiful words and beautiful stories that are hundreds of years old but still have so much relevance.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read