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Bard in the Barn brings Shakespeare's plays—all 37 of them—to Pemberton

Local cast takes on the humorous parody, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

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Playing the lead part in one of Shakespeare's iconic plays is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime role that most actors dream of. And next weekend, Pemberton's Dallen Brodowski will get to play 12 of them in the same production. One of the featured actors in the comedic parody, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Brodowski will take on such meaty roles as a ditzy Romeo "who's just trying to get into Juliet's pants," the noble Laertes attempting to avenge his father's death, and a "completely absurd" Julius Ceasar, among others.

"It's interesting trying to juggle between (the characters)," said the 18-year-old. "It's really refreshing. Me and some of the other cast members, we love watching each other and what we do with each of the different roles."

Brodowski is one of eight local actors taking part in the first ever Bard in the Barn, a community theatre production taking place at the Pemberton Downtown Community Barn.

Renata Zablotney, head of A Bird's Work Theatre Company, was approached by the Pemberton Farmers' Market Association to produce the show, with a portion of proceeds going towards the market's 2019 Arts and Culture Series.

In a community starved for theatre, Zablotney feels The Complete Works should serve as a fun introduction to the Bard of Avon that won't alienate modern audiences.

"It's a comedy premise about a group of people who are demonstrating all 37 plays of Shakespeare but they don't really know all the plays and they're trying to do it in a quick forum," she explained. "They take you through these interpretations of the plays and I thought that was a really great intro to Shakespeare for Pemberton because it's a comedy, it's not so overwhelming that you can't understand it—it still has a lot of Shakespearean lingo and yet it's still very approachable."

With a cast that ranges in age from late teens to late 30s, Zablotney got several of her former students (she teaches drama at Pemberton Secondary School) to fill the roles.

"It's already making me feel like an old teacher, but many of them went through my drama productions as students and a lot of them went to uni or went away and came back and wanted to participate in this play," she said. "They've really given it 100 per cent because I think they know what a high standard I have and what a perfectionist I am, so they're not shocked."

Brodowski, who is attending Capilano University for film in the fall alongside castmate Spence Barker, admitted his interest in acting dates back to elementary school, but it was Zablotney who made him realize that his passion could evolve into a career.

"Before she got there, acting was kind of just a hobby and I never really thought of it as something I could make a living out of. She helped put me on the tracks to actually make it a part of my future," Brodowski said.

As adults, Zablotney said she relished the opportunity to push her former students to bring out their best.

"I like to give them challenging roles and push them out of their comfort zone, and I think with this play, they really got a chance to be very diverse, and they loved that. It's very challenging but it's really fun," she said. One of those challenges, in true Shakespearean fashion, asked some of the male actors to take on female roles.

"That's very entertaining for the guys. They like wearing the dresses," Zablotney said. "It's worth it just to see these tall, gangly boys trying out their lady legs for the first time."

Joining Brodowski and Barker in the cast is Kevin Linklater, Jesse Abbott, Kate Brosseau, Kieran Nott, Summer DuPerron and Katy Doiron.

Bard in the Barn is set for Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Pemberton Downtown Community Barn. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and include a non-alcoholic drink, dessert, and live music.

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