The Bard in the garden

The course of Covid-19 never did run smooth, but this troupe of travelling thespians have a way to keep performing despite the cancellations.

Nelson-based performing group The Barden Party have found performing in gardens to be a safe and fun alternative to the stage.

The troupe is performing in this year’s Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Director Laura Irish said the group was eager to perform and wanted to find a safe alternative to traditional performances.

After two years of "constant cancellations" the actors were "a bit over it".

The idea of performing in a backyard came to her when she was looking at her deck and realised it was bigger than some stages she had been on.

She held the first show at her home and found people loved it.

Soon "what if I held a show in my garden?" became "what if I held a show in everyone’s gardens?" Ms Irish said.

They had performed in about 35 private and 4 public gardens so far.

Ready to perform a modern take on A Midsummer Night's Dream in a private backyard in Dunedin...
Ready to perform a modern take on A Midsummer Night's Dream in a private backyard in Dunedin yesterday are The Barden Party actors (front from left) Scott Sumby, Matthew Edgar, director Laura Irish, (middle from left) Mackenzie Gardener, Molly Wilkin, (back from left) Aimee Borlase, Charles Anderson and Sam McIlroy. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
There were plans to perform in a Dunedin backyard; however, the hosts had immuno-compromised people staying with them and decided to cancel, she said.

They would still be performing at Larnach Castle on Saturday and the Opera House gardens on Sunday.

Their act was a full two-hour performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was the "perfect" play for a garden setting, as it was accessible to those new to Shakespeare.

It was also a very "silly" and "joyful" show which could easily be enjoyed on a picnic blanket outdoors.

That was not the only unconventional aspect of the show, however.

The actors for the show also played music and had brought a modern twist to the classic play.

Folk variations of popular music were played throughout the show, including a cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic featuring a harmony of kazoos, she said.

After the festival the group would make its way around the country for a handful more shows before taking its performance to the US for a tour.

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