Currently in its 15th year, Bard in the Botanics is a popular summer feature that has been embraced by the theatre-loving Glaswegians. New for this year is the inclusion of works by other Renaissance writers, with ‘Doctor Faustus’ premiering next month.
Bard in the Botanics originated as a student actor production, initiated by American ex-pat Scott Palmer. Across the pond, outdoor Shakespeare productions are more common, so he decided to give it a try in Scotland. Speaking to associate director Jennifer, the immediate question that comes to mind is ‘What about the weather?’. But, as she points out, not only are the Scots used to resisting wind and rain, but the ever changing weather means that a rainy day often turns into a beautiful evening. Of course, performances sometimes have to be interrupted or cancelled, but the audience often comes back another day to enjoy the play.
The production team, many of which have worked on Bard in the Botanics year after year, have been making their way through Shakespeare’s canon, with thirty or so productions currently under their belts. Since Shakespeare only wrote 36 plays, they could soon run out. Fortunately, as of this year, the performances will also include plays written by Shakespeare’s contemporaries, with Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ being the first performance in the new series.
The Botanics are an ideal setting for Shakespeare, as the close distance between the actors and the audience allows the latter to participate in the way the Renaissance writer intended. Shakespeare’s writing was meant for a much closer relationship with the audience, Jennifer says, which is reflected in the design of Shakespeare's The Globe in London.
Many of the actors have been performing with Bard of the Botanics for years. Having such an experienced ensemble helps during show time, as two plays are performed simultaneously, one in Kibble Palace and one outdoors. The audience is encouraged to bring their own picnic, and usually sit on the grass, enjoying the simple but atmospheric setting. A season normally sees three or four different plays come to life, and the loyal audience returns year after year.
Bard in the Botanics will be performing Twelfth Night, Coriolanus, Macbeth and Doctor Faustus between the 22nd June and 30th July. For your chance to win two tickets to Twelfth Night at a date of your choice, please go to our Facebook page.