Regular readers of Her.ie will already know that we’re big fans of the Bard. Take, for example, our favourite 12 Shakespeare quotes suitable for modern life.
So, we were most impressed to hear about Free Shakespeare. Free Shakespeare in the Iveagh Gardens began in 2011, with a production of Romeo & Juliet (Unplugged). Due to its success, Fortune’s Fool Productions continued this terrific event in 2012 with a production of The Tempest. Each of these productions was funded through private donations and sponsorships from local businesses, allowing the community to see these wonderful plays for free in one of Dublin’s most beautiful venues.
This year, Fortune’s Fool began work on Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sadly, during the company’s fund-raising campaigns, they were notified by a few previous big funders that funding would not be available for their 2013 production. Without financial support, they are unable to produce this event – so we’re saving save Free Shakespeare!
Romeo & Juliet (Unplugged) drew crowds of about 3,000 in 2011, while last year’s production of The Tempest drew record crowds of at least 6,000. Audiences come from all over Ireland enjoyed the free performances, and organisers told us of a special call from two pensioners who traveled from Donegal to see The Tempest, who thoroughly enjoyed the production and were thrilled to see it for free.
Organisers told Her.ie; “Our productions were ‘unplugged’ and had no frivolous production values like lights, sets or mics. We used ourselves and the Iveagh Gardens to create the magic of live theatre for all to enjoy. We weren’t trying to raise a fortune, we only needed €10,000 to bring a show with 25 actors to life for 10 performances.”
Fortune’s Fool produced free Shakespeare in the park because we believe Shakespeare’s plays can be magical, transformative community experiences that should be accessible to everyone irrespective of their income or ability to afford a theatre ticket. Audiences of children, teens, families, joggers, hipsters, people on dates, people coming home from work, the elderly, shop owners and great friends with elaborate picnics filled the Iveagh Gardens every evening. They sat through the rain and wind, laughing, crying and cheering together for a magnificent fiction created out of thin air. The experience of this event was thrilling for everyone.
We at Her.ie would hate to see Free Shakespeare become yet another Arts victim of the economy, and if you feel the same, check out the Fundit page for Free Shakespeare here, and find out how you can help!