Back to HomeFeature Article - August 2, 2012

Family friendly Shakespeare in Sydenham

by Jeff Green

Photo: The Barefoot Players performed "Teapest in a Tempot", a kid-friendly adaptation of Shakespeare’s play "The Tempest" at the Sydenham Public Library on July 27

On July 27, Queen’s University drama students took their kid-friendly production of Shakespeare's “The Tempest” to the Sydenham Public Library in the hopes of getting youngsters hooked on the bard. The six-member troupe known as the Barefoot Players performed their 30-minute show, which was titled "Teapest in a Tempot", to an enthusiastic audience who gathered on the lawn where the troupe set up their traveling stage.

The show, which includes numerous props, songs, dances, puppets and a fast-paced, rollicking plot line, is part of the students’ summer study program at Queen's University in Kingston. The troupe began rehearsing the show in April and have since performed at numerous schools, libraries and parks across the county. The play was written and directed by Kim Renders, the company’s artistic director. Nadia Leiningen, one of the actors with the company, said the goal of the play is to introduce Shakespeare to young children in a fun way. “It's always a daunting task to introduce teenagers to Shakespeare in high school. We figure that if we can introduce it to them earlier, and in an enjoyable way, they will be able to enjoy it more when they meet the plays later in high school,” she said.

The work experience that the company provides the students is part of a program called the Student Workplace Experience Program and it gives Queen’s students a chance to work within their field of learning. For the students the work is a paid position that not only gives them an opportunity to test their acting chops but also gives them the experience of running a traveling theatre company. The actors told me that the most challenging parts of the show are the costume changes since each actor plays a number of characters. Not surprisingly, the troupe members are all fans of Shakespeare, which makes their job an enjoyable one and which translates into fun and laughs for the whole family.

The troupe regularly performs two shows a day. Anyone who missed the show in Sydenham can check their website at www.queensu.ca/drama/barefootplayers for upcoming show dates and locations.