The Roost welcomes Shakespeare to North Saanich

Vancouver Island Shakespeare Arts will perform two Shakespeare plays in inaugural Barn at the Barn.

Matt Mathiason and Robert Light as Iago and Othello act out a scene.

Bard at the Barn will makes its first appearance at The Roost Farm Centre and Bistro Winery with two Shakespeare performances.

Put on by the Vancouver Island Shakespeare Arts, the North Saanich farm will be the home of the group’s fourth season of summer productions on the Saanich Peninsula.

They will be doing a performance of Othello followed by Much Ado About Nothing.

Set in the 1960s/1970s for this production, Othello is a tragedy, whereas Much Ado, which will be set in the 1990s/2000s, is a comedy.

The play is set in Cyprus where the Turks and Greek separatists are battling and the United Nations is there to keep the peace.

“We focussed on the domestic abuse theme that Shakespeare wrote into this, the prime theme that he wrote into Othello, so we built the story around that and integrated into that is the setting of the UN peacekeepers,” said Executive Director of the Vancouver Island Shakespeare Arts, Steve Duck.

Duck said in Much Ado About Nothing,   set in Sicily, the audience will see actors on their cellphones.

“What amazes me is that these were written 400 to 450 years ago and they’re as timeless as tomorrow and yesterday in their relevance to what happens in our lives,” he said.

The actors will be dressed in traditional UN Canadian Peacekeeper uniforms, provided by Victoria’s Ashton Armoury, which Duck said represents the history of local regiments and the soldiers who have left Victoria for different peacekeeping missions and wars.

The acting troupe began rehearsing in January and some of the cast members have been part of the group for around five years.

The cast of Othello consists of nine performers, while Much Ado has of 12.

This will be the Vancouver Island Shakespeare Arts’ fourth year in Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula. Shows in past years were held in Sidney’s Beacon Park. It’s the troupe’s fifth year in Victoria and their second year in Nanaimo.

Performances will run from Aug. 11 to 13. Othello will take place Thursday evening beginning at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Much Ado About Nothing will run on Friday and Saturday beginning at 7 p.m.

General admission to the performance is $29 and green tickets — for those walking or cycling are $25, as well as for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.

Tickets are available online at victoriaticket.ca or at the door at The Roost.