Producer takes Shakespeare to the people

November 19, 2010 by Geoff Sirmai
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Producer Oliver Burton has created Shakespeare in the Park whic will perform in and around Sydney  in The Hills District, the Blue Mountains and city’s Botanic Gardens.

Oliver Burton

Shakespeare in the Rose Garden returns to the Hills in 2010, bigger and ‘Bella’ than ever, as the main event of the Hills Shire Council’s “Sensoria” arts festival.

The renamed Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park (previously Shakespeare in the Rose Garden) will play for 13 nights throughout December, beginning on the 10th, at the historic Bella Vista Farm.

It’s the first of three seasons of three classic Shakespeare plays, performed in repertory by a Damien Ryan’s, Sport for Jove Theatre.

Following Romeo and Juliet alternating with As You Like It at Bella Vista, the company follows up with the same two plays, plus A Midsummer Night’s Dream in January at Leura’s magical Everglades Gardens outdoor theatre and Faulconbridge’s famous Norman Lindsay Gallery. Then, in March, they bring As You Like It and The Dream to Sydney’s beautiful Botanic Gardens.

And behind it all is young Jewish producer Oliver Burton.

“These are magnificent plays, iconic stories of young women who defy the rules to chase their heart’s desires, exploring the ecstasies and torments of love,“ says Artistic Director Damien Ryan.

“They also combine some of Shakespeare’s most dazzling action and fight sequences with his most compellingly beautiful language and humour,” adds Ryan.

Damien is the veteran of over 36 Shakespearian productions, a national and international touring actor and director with the Bell Shakespeare Company and one of Australia’s foremost educators on the work and life of Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in the Rose Garden enjoyed sold out performances during its inaugural season in 2009 and The Hills Shire Council is confident of an even bigger response this year.

With a greater capacity at Bella Vista Farm, the council is confident that this year even more people will come and enjoy a picnic, a glass of wine and performance under the stars.

For Ryan, Bella Vista’s great draw card is its history and its flexibility.

“The great advantage of Bella Vista Farm is that it contains so many different theatrical spaces. We can really create the court and the forest in a unique and immersive way. And, of course, we have a balcony!” says Ryan.

Producer Oliver Burton, 22,  told J-Wire: “This is the second year I have been involved in this production. I have just finished a communications degree at Sydney University . All my life, I have loved theatre but I think I have found my niche in theatrical production and am aiming at making a career in it.”

The Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park (alternating performances of Romeo and Juliet with As You Like It) plays on Dec 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 and 30, commencing at 8pm. Tickets are $25+booking fee (adults) and $20+bf (concession) with discounts for combined purchases and under 8’s free. Picnics Encouraged.

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