Summer Shakespeare turns 30

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 11:16 07/02/2013

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The Wellingtonian

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Summer Shakespeare celebrates 30 years of Wellington performances this month.

Since the first production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Victoria University quad in 1983, Summer Shakespeare has become a theatrical institution in Wellington.

Plays have been performed around the city, including the Botanic Garden, Civic Square, Majestic Cinema and Te Papa. The performances are still associated with the university's drama department.

This year's production Antony and Cleopatra will be performed at The Dell at the Botanic Garden.

Co-chairman of the Summer Shakespeare Trust David Lawrence has acted in and directed productions. He said Summer Shakespeare lasted because of the variety of the plays.

"People love the content and in Summer Shakespeare we try to do the obscure plays as well," he said.

"We alternate it. One year we will do a recognisable one like Twelfth Night and then the next do something like Antony and Cleopatra that's not performed often.

"Also the scope of what you can do with the content is immense.

"We have done Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night three times, but all the productions were different. It depends on the vision of the director."

Mr Lawrence said his favourite play was As You Like It in the Civic Square in 1996.

"Kirsty Hamilton's Rosalind was really engaging," he said.

"There were a lot of funny moments in it as well. In Civic Square there are several ways to get in and on stage and we had only two people guarding the many entrances.

"The number of random people who would wander on stage was funny. Drunk people wandering on and interacting with the cast members. They were just incorporated, then sent on."

Summer Shakespeare boasts alumni of many of New Zealand's on- stage and backstage stars. They include Kate Hawley, one of the costume designers for The Hobbit and Kate Wolfe, Shortland Street producer.Summer Shakespeare 2013 Antony and Cleopatra, The Dell, Botanic Garden, February 15 till March 2.

- The 30th anniversary celebrations, February 22 till 24, including an exhibition in the gallery of the St James Theatre. For information, birthday@summershake speare.co.nz.

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