Playing a rowdy, drunken joker isn't so bad insists Langley resident and actor Jeff Hacker. Hacker has joined the cast of Bard in the Valley for this year's production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare's many works that revolves around the humour inherent in romance and mistaken identities.
As a drama teacher, it makes sense for Hacker to have participated in local productions over the years, but, "actually, As You Like It was my first production since [he was a student] high school," he noted.
Bard in the Valley is now in its third season with A Midsummer Night's Dream as it's first production, As You Like It running last summer, and now Twelfth Night.
It wasn't just his interest in acting that drove Hacker to audition, it was also the prompting of his kids and the ability to take part in something with his daughter.
"My kids told me I had to try out," Hacker joked.
His 11-year-old daughter took part in last year's show as a forest girl and is a volunteer at the performance this year.
"We're going to be in a pantomime together in Maple Ridge in the fall," added Hacker of the interest he and his daughter now share in theatre.
When asked why the work of Bard in the Valley matters, Hacker responded, "The general population is scared of Shakespeare because their high school teacher had them read it... they didn't see it performed. Bringing the understanding of Shakespeare to the audience for free is the real importance to me."
His beliefs tie in perfectly with the purpose of Bard in the Valley - "Shakespeare for everyone".
"It's a challenge for the actor because there is so much in the quality of the delivery of the words," Hacker said.
He explained that by illustrating the emotion behind the words through action, audience members are better able to understand the performance, even if they don't understand the words themselves.
"My kids love Shakespeare," he noted after outlining the previous live performances they had seen. "When you see six-, seven-, eight-year-olds enjoying what's going on, they aren't scared of Shakespeare."
Five other Langley residents join Hacker on stage for the August performances including Caroline Dearden who plays the lead protagonist, Viola. She struggles with the carousing, happy-at-all-costs uncle, Hacker plays as Sir Toby Belch.
"Toby is what everybody would want to be if they could," Hacker said. "He just does what makes him have fun, but underneath it all, he's got some honour too."
The show's co-director, June Ainsworth, said that it isn't just the actors working to make Twelfth Night interesting and entertaining - set decorators and seamstresses are putting their imaginations to work as well.
Audience members of all ages are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs, a picnic, or cash to purchase food from the Rotary concession when the show is in Douglas park.
Admission, as always, is free, but donations to support the work of Bard in Valley are appreciated.
Don't be scared of what the Bard has to offer. Twelfth Night runs in Douglas Park at Spirit Square at 7 p.m. on Aug. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 and at 2 p.m. on Aug. 12 and 19. At the Langley International Festival in Willoughby Park by the Langley Events Centre, watch the show Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. and Aug. 26 at 2 p.m.
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