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 Please keep checking back on this page as we update information, calls for support and general decisions.

July 13, 2014

The Taming of the Shrew deals with difficult themes regrading gender roles in society. We chatted with Artistic Director, Marianne Copithorne about these themes and how she approached the delicate issues addressed in the play:

What do you think about the change in Katherine’s disposition?

I was not interested in pursuing a misogynistic concept where Petruchio abuses Kate into becoming ‘obedient’. That conceptual road is a dead end that will surely turn this comedy into a tragedy. But rather in ‘reverent care of her’, he teaches her to be agreeable and say ‘yes’ in bowing to his ‘honest’ will. Katherine is on a destructive path that will leave her lonely and bitter if she doesn’t change some of her behaviour patterns. She learns to collaborate, to be thankful; and ultimately she learns how to give love. In return she receives love back. When that happens she learns how to love herself. I think Petruchio does her a great service in helping her to do that.

Considering the old fashioned attitudes between the sexes in the show, how are the themes of the play relevant today?

In the Elizabethan period, women were owned by their fathers and husbands. Once wed, a wife became her husband’s property. Arranged marriages with dowries were commonplace back then, and to a certain extent prenuptial agreements still exist today. No one 450 years ago would view Baptista selling off his daughter to Petruchio as a cruel thing. Today we view that kind of arrangement as very cruel and we sympathize profoundly with Kate’s plight. That’s why the play is so relevant, because many cultures have learned to strive for equality between the sexes. In watching the action of the play, we really want to see Katherine and Petruchio achieve unity and equality together. And that’s always a huge challenge today, in interpreting the characters of Katherine and Petruchio. In ‘taming’ her, he must alter his behavior as well.

What do you think the play says about relationship between men and women? Or relationships in general?

My personal directorial interpretation is that if men and women are going to get along, they have to respect each other and share a sense of humor. They have to learn to put their own selfish needs aside and place the needs of their partners first. And sometimes, in order to achieve that blessed balance, they have to teach each other how to behave. Petruchio doesn’t do all the teaching – he learns profound lessons from Katherine, too. James MacDonald and Mary Hulbert are doing a splendid job of maintaining that balance in interpreting these very complex characters for our contemporary audience.

April 9, 2014

We have heard a lot of questions about what we will be doing with our 2014 Youth Programming, Festival Passes and VIP Passes. Here’s where we stand:

Youth Programming: Unfortunately we are not able to offer Camp Shakespeare this year. However we are already getting started on creating a brand new, awesome camp for next year with some exciting changes.

VIP Passes: Unfortunately due to limitations at the Myer Horowitz Theatre we will not be able to honour the passes this year. However! Hang onto your card and we will gladly honour it (with the same conditions) in our 2015 season back in Hawrelak Park.

Festival Passes: Buyers have 2 options in 2014. First off, to clarify, one Festival pass will equal 2 tickets to be used as an individual wants. For example:

  • 1 pass = 2 individual tickets (could be used for two people to enter one show or for one person to attend 2 shows)
  • 2 passes = 4 individual tickets (could be used all at one show for 4 people or over the course of a couple shows for 1 or more people)
  • 3 passes = 6 individual tickets (could be used all at one show for 6 people or over the course of a couple shows for 1 or more people)

1) This year our system is a reserved seating system so if Festival Pass holders would like preferred seating they can get in touch with us to pick their chosen day/time to come to the Festival and we will reserve their seat (complete schedule can be found HERE). Please do so by emailing us BY JUNE 15 (after June 15th no further reservations will be taken and Festival Pass holders can use them as outlined in option #2). We will then hold your tickets at ‘Will Call’ where you must bring in your pass in exchange for your tickets one hour prior to the performance on your chosen day.

2) Festival Pass holders can use the pass on any day for 2 walk up, general seating entries to the Festival at the Myer Horowitz Theatre. Seating will be subject to availability for walk up, general admission pass usage.

Alternatively, we will gladly honour Festival Passes at the 2015 Festival when we are back home in the Heritage Amphitheatre.

No further 2014 Festival Passes will be sold at this time.

March 25, 2014

March 24, 2014

The Free Will Players Theatre Guild is excited to announce that we will present our 26th season in the Myer Horowitz Theatre at the University of Alberta.  We are grateful to the Students’ Union for welcoming us into their space for the duration of the Festival and supporting us to make an indoor season possible.

We are sure everyone is curious as to how and why we came to this solution. Very early on it became clear that by remaining outdoors our costs would increase exponentially. In order to build the capacity we would normally have in the Heritage Amphitheatre it would mean renting seating, a large tent, trailers for dressing rooms, scaffolding for lights, fencing and much more. Unfortunately with less than 4 months to prepare, we did not have the financial resources available to make this happen and, in 3 weeks, were unable to find a financial partner to help us.

After looking into our indoor options we quickly realized they presented a smaller financial risk. We explored a number of non-traditional venues but found our costs were too high to transform non-traditional theatre spaces to fit our needs. Therefore, we ultimately decided to go with the Myer Horowitz Theatre. This beautiful theatre was the best choice for many reasons. It will provide the most comfortable experience for our audience, flexibility on the part of the Students’ Union, availability of dates, seating capacity and location.

Unfortunately, in order to be fiscally responsible and present a season that take the smallest financial risk as possible, we’ve pared down our traditional 4-week-2-show season to a 3-week-1-show season.  Therefore we will be presenting The Taming of the Shrew from July 9th to 27th.

We would like to thank the many individuals and organisations from across the city for their attempts to help us. From finding rental discounts to moving around dates to simply providing positive thoughts and vibes, they have been amazing.

We would also like to thank the many individuals who have sent us suggestions and words of encouragement. We truly have the best audience in Edmonton! We would ask that you stick with us now! We are launching the Goodwill for Freewill campaign.  If you click HERE you can sign up for a monthly donation that costs as little as a latte and you’ll receive a tax receipt for your generosity.

Last year 14,000 people attended the Festival, even a $5/month donation will help soften the financial blow this year, and continue to ensure the longevity of your favourite Shakespeare Festival. One thing we’ve learned this season is that we need to prepare for the unexpected and to do that we need resources for these worse-case scenarios. You can sign up HERE.

We are excited to present this unique Freewill Shakespeare Festival season to our audience. See you at the Myer Horowitz Theate July 9-27th!


March 13, 2014

For everyone following the progress of our 26th season we want to let you know that we’re still hard at work finding a new venue. Initially we were hoping to have a solution by March 15, however our board is meeting on Monday March 17 to further discuss and weigh our options. We’re confident that we’ll have a solid plan to move forward with by the end of the month.

In the meantime, we are still looking for any corporate and/or private partners that can help make the shift to a new venue financially feasible. If you know of anyone we would love to connect and discuss how we can work together.

Many thanks for all of the support. We are amazed by the feedback we’ve received so far and it just proves once again that not only do we have the best audience, but Edmontonians are committed to having a city with a strong and vibrant arts scene.

Stay tuned for more details as they become available, and please feel free to read a these media reports on the situation:

Edmonton Examiner

Avenue Magazine

Metro Edmonton


Cadence Konopaki
Managing Director
Freewill Shakespeare Festival

March 3, 2014

As you know, the Heritage Amphitheatre tent in Hawrelak Park was damaged earlier this year. This situation has put the Freewill Shakespeare Festival in a precarious position for its 26th season, as the tent will not be repaired in time for our currently scheduled opening of June 24, 2014.

After assessing the situation we have identified four possible ways for the festival to move forward and we are asking you, our audience, for input and help.

At the moment our number one priority is finding a corporate partner or partners to help with the several additional costs we will incur this year as we are forced to locate to an alternate venue. The bullet points featured in the options below are the things we need help from a corporate partner(s) to secure.

Secondly we’re asking if you, the public, have any leads on acquiring these bullet points. For example, if you know a fencing company or an organization with a tent that fits the specs we’d love to chat about how we can work together.

The Internet is great for crowd sourcing this kind of information and we look forward to working with you to help save the festival this year. If you have any thoughts, ideas or leads about any of this, please tweet them to us “@FreewillPlayers” or connect with us on Facebook.

As always, we will continue to keep you posted as more information becomes available.

OPTION #1: Outdoors with a tent that covers stage and audience. The ideal solution is to rent or have a tent donated that can house both our set and audience. This is also the most cost-prohibitive solution, (comma) as Freewill will have to shoulder several additional expenses including:

  • A tent large enough to cover the stage and 500+ seats
  • Fencing to secure the perimeter around the tent
  • Seating
  • Trailers with running water to act as dressing rooms and om-site office space
  • Bathroom facilities for audience

OPTION #2: Outdoors with a tent covering the stage only. The next best solution to keep the festival outdoors is to rent or have a tent donated that can cover the set. Unfortunately this means the audience will not be covered. There is also a significant cost to pursuing this route, including:

  • A tent large enough to cover the stage
  • Fencing to secure the perimeter around the tent
  • Seating
  • Trailers with running water to act as dressing rooms and on-site office space
  • Bathroom facilities for audience

OPTION # 3: Indoors inside existing venue. If an outdoor festival turns out not to be feasible, the next best solution is to move indoors. We are currently looking for theatre facilities that are not yet book and that can accommodate the size and scope of our festival.

OPTION #4: Indoors in a unique venue. This is an interesting option as we explore the possibility of finding an indoor space that is large enough to accommodate the festival but that isn’t necessarily an existing theatre space. There are however additional costs associated with this plan as well, including:

  • An space large enough to fit the stage and 500+ seats for a minimum of 6 weeks
  • Seating
  • Scaffolding for lighting and sound equipment
  • Bathroom facilities for audience


February 26, 2014

Media: Shakespeare Out of the Park

February 22, 2014

Free Will Players Statement:

In light of the recent news regarding the damage to the Heritage Amphitheatre’s canopy (background story found here), we want to ensure our supporters that we are doing everything in our power to look at our options as we proceed with our 26th season. Though we are still waiting on more information from the city and our other partners, we do know the following:
  • the canopy was damaged on either January 25 or 26 during a wind storm while construction crews were attempting to replace the old canvas which had been in place for the last 25 years.
  • the custom-built canopies are manufactured in the U.S., cost $400,000 and take three months to construct.
  • the City has told us that the new canopy will not be ready until mid to late July.

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to explore our options.

Again, many thanks and we will keep you in the loop as the situation unfolds.

Media: Heritage Amphitheatre’s torn canopy forces summer Shakespeare festival to move