Bard on the Beach’s New MD Takes the Stage

Petti Fong  You spent 14 years as a producer at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre. How did life in that city’s Distillery District prepare you for Kits Point and Bard on the Beach?

Claire Sakaki  I came from a homeless theatre that started really small and grew into a $10-million-plus company in a very short time. Of course there were many growth spurts along the way: we built a facility; we started a year-round training program. I think Bard has already done many of those things successfully.

PF  If we look ahead another 25 years, no doubt Shakespeare will still be around. What do you think Bard will look like?

CS  After 24 successful seasons it’s easy to stop and say, “Let’s just stop and focus on our success.” But the trick is to honour that history by doing something even more in the future. So the next 25 years is going to see many areas of growth—especially with the new facility.

PF  Speaking of which, you’re expanding, along with the Arts Club, into the Olympic Village space originally meant for the now-defunct Vancouver Playhouse company. How will a year-round, indoor space change what Bard does?

CS  It will always be about Shakespeare on the beach. But happily, now you can also get a comfortable seat to sit in and hear it very well. So you’ll have the opportunity for it to be outside and really embrace the environment it’s in, or have the benefits of being in a theatre. We’ll be in our new space year-round, but we won’t necessarily be performing year-round—not in the near future. The hope is to have a production in the off-season, so we do plan to perform there, but that will in no way take away from Vanier Park in the summer.

PF  Is there something in the canon that hasn’t been put on yet? Something that attracts you?

CS  Bard has done every play but one: Coriolanus.

PF  Which Shakespeare character do you most see yourself in?

CS  Some days I wish I were more like Rosalind from As You Like It, some days more like Much Ado’s Beatrice. But I see myself in every character. That speaks to the accomplishment of their author!


IN BRIEF   Claire Sakaki, 39, graduated with Honours in Psychology from Queen’s University. Before Soulpepper, she helped found Toronto’s indie Theatrefront company

CORRECTION: The printed edition stated that Sakaki graduated in arts management from Queen’s University. The online version of this article is correct.

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