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Perchance Theatre brings Shakespeare to Cupids

Harbour Grace's John Sheehan takes on the role of Petruchio in the play “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Harbour Grace's John Sheehan takes on the role of Petruchio in the play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

CUPIDS, NL —Perchance Theatre is bringing the spirit of William Shakespeare to Cupids.

Perchance Theatre, which has been active for a little under a decade including its years as New World Theatre, is looking to delight audiences in Cupids with plays from the Shakespearean era, as well as works dedicated to Newfoundland’s rich history.

Perchance Theatre is the only professional classical theatre in the province, and will be displaying their passion for the genre over the next few days.

Starting on Friday night, July 21, and spanning throughout the weekend, the theatre and its dedicated staff performed “Richard III”, “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Our Eliza”.

On Wednesday, July 26 and through to the following Sunday, the theatre will be hosting afternoon and evening shows for the same plays.

The award-winning Perchance Theatre’s main stage work focuses mainly on classical Shakespeare; something artistic director Danielle Irvine says has been a surprising hit with audiences over the years.

Irvine is the director for “Richard III”, while Andy Jones handles “The Taming of the Shrew” and Megan Gail Coles directs her original play “Our Eliza”, which is part of the theatre’s new series called 400 Years and Counting, which overlooks Newfoundland’s history and culture.

“A lot of people, when they think of Shakespeare, think of being stuck in a Grade 8 classroom, listening to a teacher read a play from a book, but that’s not what Shakespeare is about,” said Irvine. “Shakespeare wrote plays, and he wrote them for people to enjoy. We get so many people that come to us after the play and say, ‘wow, I genuinely enjoyed that’, and I think that’s a great thing. That’s what Shakespeare is all about.”

Crowds line up at the door to see Perchance Theatre’s take on classical theatre.

The building in which Perchance Theatre performs its plays is also something the team takes great pride in, having been named one of six most unique ways to experience Shakespeare in Canada.

Found just behind Cupids Haven, the theatre is hard to miss, with sailcloth on the roof and wooden slats around the property. Irvine described the location as a step back in time, and one that was well worth the drive to Cupids.

Irvine, who has been with the company since 2014, also mentioned that there were some possibly familiar faces involved in this season’s plays, including Harbour Grace’s John Sheehan, taking on the role of Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew”, as well as Steve O’Connell, who many may know as Sergeant Hood from Republic of Doyle.

“We work really hard to make Shakespeare accessible,” said Irvine. “When he was writing 400 years ago, that’s when Newfoundland was founded, so our language, accent, our sense of debate, it all comes out of his time. So we embrace our Newfoundland accents in the plays. We don’t force it, but we just allow it to be there, and I think that helps people understand things a little better.”

Irvine noted that that was one of the main focuses of Perchance Theatre – making Shakespeare relatable, understandable and enjoyable to everyone, no matter how much they may or may not know of classical theatre.

“The language shifts over time, surely, but the human aspect of Shakespeare is still the same as people of today. Human emotions are still the same,” explained Irvine. “Even if someone doesn’t quite grasp the language, they still understand emotion – sadness, anger, joy – all these things are natural, and it’s something Shakespeare used to really grab the audience’s attention.

“I think that comes through in our plays as well, and so far, people absolutely love it. Our numbers have doubled over the last couple of years, and that’s something we’re really happy to see.”

Starting on Wednesday, July 26, Perchance Theatre will be doing daily shows; starting with Richard III at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, or online at www.perchancetheatre.com.

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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