Summer Shakespeare

It is the time of year for outdoor theatre, and there are Shakespeare in the park productions in every major city in the world.

But it is also the start of the season for the finest Shakespeare performed indoors, and this is your guide to the tops of the 2012 season (by reputation)


Bard on the Beach

Vancouver’s premier Shakespeare venue is the huge white tents you can see going over the Burrard bridge. Head down past the planetarium for beautifully designed live theatre. Local fight director Nick Harrison is in charge of all the stage combat for their season.


“Blood will have blood.” The dark story of ambition and fate is kept close to its roots in this production with Longsword and kilts. I’ve directed and seen this play countless times, and I’m always ready for another.

Taming of the Shrew

Always good for a laugh, this romantic comedy promises maximum wit. One of my favourite Bard actors, John Murphy, plays Petruchio.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

A little further afield for Vancouverites, you’ll have to take a long drive over the border, almost to California. So plan to stay the weekend in Ashland. The quality of the direction and design are worth the trip.

Romeo & Juliet

You know you love it. I go for the violence, my date goes with me for the romance.

Troilus and Cressida

Under-produced war epic, you can call it the original “Troy”, and includes the awesome fight between Hector and Achilles. This production is designed for a middle-east modern conflict, with assault rifles and modern combatives.

The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa

If you follow American politics and like your Shakespeare “updated”, then this is certainly the play for you. Falstaff is a losing senator with a plan involving embezzlement and same-sex marriage. And there’s a cow on the poster.


Stratford Festival

For the best stage combat you’re ever likely to see in Shakespeare, you’ll have to travel to Stratford, Ontario. Fight Masters Daniel Levinson and Simon Fon lead the action and train the finest actors in Canada.

The Pirates of Penzance

Every festival has shows that are non-Shakespeare, and this one is not to be missed. C’mon, a hilarious Gilbert and Sullivan musical about pirates, with plenty of swashbuckling courtesy of both Levinson and Fon.

Henry V

Steve Rankin’s fight choreography is enhanced by Matt Richardson’s archery and Adrian Young’s aerial choreography: that means people will be flying on cables in this battle-heavy tale.


Professional Stage Fighting

Remember that professional actors are trained in stage combat, and like every acting skill, it’s better to have some mastery before learning the choreography for any particular show. Our stage combat classes continue throughout the summer. To get started, sign up for our next <strong>Introduction to Stage Combat: Slaps and Slashes</strong> workshop for 15 July, 2012.


Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.