Staged by the Singapore Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park is an outdoor event at the Fort Canning Park. Since its debut in 1997, SRT has put on five famous Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Macbeth.
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Outdoor recreation and education
I feel that reading Shakespeare is an education unto itself. For who hasn't grown up being exposed to, any degree or other, his works and their profound meanings? Hence, it is a unique experience upon itself to watch productions of his work unfold in different settings.
Shakespeare In The Park is a festival celebrating his works. Set in an outside setting, I felt that the surroundings are really conduicive to bring out the full essence of his works. I felt really relaxed, sitting on a comfortable spot under the stars, with a cup of warm coffee in my hand and watching the plays unfold as the actors played them out in detail. It is under such comfortable conditions, with a relaxed mind not cluttered with the daily incessant of life, that you really discover new meanings between lines that you realised you have not noticed before.
Besides the literary experience, the aesthetical side and skills of the actors are commendable. You can literally see that the props were well prepared and the stage was literally well fitted despite the venue not being a conventional theatre. Moreover, the smooth flow of the performance displayed how well practiced the actors were and how well they know their story!
You can almost feel as if fairies were going to pop out any second!
I love the concept of Shakespeare in the Park. I've watched their Macbeth and Twelfth Night, and I can't wait to watch the upcoming Merchant of Venice.
I was blown away by the sets of both Macbeth and Twelfth Night. I loved how they used the space in Fort Canning, not restricting themselves to just the stage area. Personally, I liked the set for Twelfth Night more than Macbeth, especially the moon that rose at the end.
I think it's a great way for literature fanatics, theatre buffs and families to come together and enjoy themselves while appreciating the stellar works of Shakespeare.
One of a kind experience
I had heard of this event when a friend of mine who lives in Singapore and my interest was immediately piqued. What fascinates me is the fact that there are people here who take the time to transform the park into something that resembles the early English scenery typically imagined in a Shakespearean ballad.
As amazing as it was for me and my culturally-educated group of friends, it was rather stale for me as the last time I have ever touched anything by Shakespeare was in high school. Definitely a shame as I would have loved to be able to enjoy everything that the event had to offer.
Bringing arts and nature to SG
I love the concept of Shakespeare in the Park. Other countries have the privilege of enjoying outdoor moonlight cinemas come summer; in Singapore we enjoy watching plays in the middle of Fort Canning.
The staging of the Bard's masterpieces temporarily transforms Fort Canning Park into a little Elizabethan English town, and the audience its merry-makers. We are transported into another world of iambic pentameter, pantaloons and crude bawdy humour, much like an inside joke that only us Shakespeareans understand.
In addition, how often do us SG city dwellers willingly take time off our busy schedules to sit around in a park? Mozzies and humidity aside, this provides a rare but excellent opportunity for us to connect with nature and to rejuvenate our stressed-out minds. It really helps us appreciate the simple pleasures of life, as we ponder over the wise words of Shakespeare.
Whether or not you have enjoyed literature classes in school, I highly recommend everyone attend at least one SITP, it will change you. Don't forget the insect repellent and picnic basket!
Memorable and well planned
I have attended the last two Shakespeare in the Park events, Twelfth Night last year and Othello this year. I have to say, both of them were very well acted out by SRT. The information of the plays were given in a brochure, which were "by donation", which is a neat idea to me.
I came here with my school, and I felt that it was only after the discounts that it was worth to go. At the start of the plays, it would be very hot and uncomfortable, so it was to my delight that they distributed handheld fans.
Also, it was a very nice idea to include food stands, because after all the events were part picnic too! However, the items on offer were mainly catered to the mature audience, because most of them were wines and alcoholic beverages. I feel that they should include more items to cater to younger audience, such as us schoolgoers. Also, the food could have been better priced, although I am very thankful for the relatively cheap ice cream they had on sale.
The voice projection during the play could have been better, as the area was big. Also, the audience has to learn concert etiquette, because although they were reminded not to use their phones, some went ahead to use them. Also, some fell asleep halfway through, which was very rude indeed. Additionally, a lot of litter was left behind, but I would not blame them because the place was very dimly lit.
I love the idea of an outdoor performance, rather than in somewhere such as Esplanade, because it is more defining as a memorable act.
Wear my heart upon my sleeve
As a literature lover and theatre geek, Shakespeare in the Park was a night that was both supremely enjoyable for me and one that I seek to experience again. A couple of months ago, I had the chance to watch Shakespeare's Othello, which would be next year's course material for Literature. Through the night, I soaked in the almost dream-like quality of the entire atmosphere of the park and the performance, the entire thing was rather intoxicating to be honest!
The performance fees were catered by my school, so I went with a bunch of my friends to enjoy the play together. We arrived at the venue slightly later than expected and the entire area was swamped with fellow play-goers milling around and chatting on their picnic mats! We were even given complimentary fans just in case it got too warm later in the night. The spot we found was high up on the hill, which was quite a distance away from the main stage, however I still managed to get a wonderful view of the entire stage and well as hear most of the dialogue clearly.
Most of the other play-goers had brought their own food, a group of middle-aged westerners had even brought along a bottle of wine to enjoy! (we were't offered any though) However, for those who fear the hassle of lugging along a heavy picnic basket, do not worry! There were a few stores set up along the side of the hill selling hot food and snacks to take back to your little spot to eat while the play unfolded.
Although I have not read the play yet, I still managed to catch up with the dialogue and actions, with help from my friend who was feeding me spoilers she had read through the Wikipedia page. In fact, Iago's monologue atop of the steel structure was one of the most brilliantly acted out speeches I had ever had the honour to listen to! The costuming for the play had a more modern twist to it, with the backdrop being set in an army camp, where all the characters were in some form of army attire. The special effects during one of the climaxes of the play was also very well thought out and seamlessly enhanced the performer's acting during that scene.
Overall, it was a magical night for me and I fully encourage all literature lovers to buy a ticket to one of the future plays. There was a defining moment during the performance, when I looked up and watched the moon slowly rise up to its perch high up in the sky, definitely not something you can get from watching it in an indoor theatre!
I've been at every year's Shakespeare in the Park since I was first introduced as a literature student the year they played Macbeth.
It definitely is one hot event, ambivalence intended. It's extremely popular and most showtimes are packed full. So if you want to get good seats, and you definitely will want to sit closer to the stage to get a better view, unobstructed by heads, go early to queue.
All the hype is worth is though. Performances are stellar, and the experience you get under the stars is like no other in a theatre. Sitting on a picnic mat with your sandwich and drink in hand. I've actually seen people pack wine, perfectly matched with wine glasses, and the vibe they emitted was intoxicating (pun unintended). Whilst all this is really novel and thrilling an experience, it can get to be quite a pain in the ass. Literally. You are sitting on the cold hard ground ultimately and unless you have really cushiony buttocks, they're bound to hurt and ache after a while. So thank God for the interval mid-way through the show for you to stretch and ease you arse's pain. Alternatively, you can bring a little foldable chair, or a cushion, since a chair would make you block the people behind unless you considerately sit toward the sides.
The actors and actresses are definitely unhindered by the different environment, especially the heat (I'll get to this) in their thick costumes. The vibe and energy they emit in portraying their characters will draw you right into the story. And this engaging of audience is further enhanced as the actors do directly engage us once in awhile. As I recall, the 3 witches in Macbeth were much loved by the audience as they came and dabbled with us during the interval. The effort put into the props and set-up is definitely beyond commendable. You are definitely not compromised in the quality of performance with Shakespeare in the Park.
So besides remembering your picnic mats and beverages and snacks, definitely bring along a fan, or anything that can act as a fanning device. The heat at this event is unbelievable unbearable. They did give out fans this year, which were so passionately used I went through 2 of them at the end of the night.
But aside from all this, Shakespeare in the Park is an annual marked event in my calender I wouldn't want to miss. What's a little heat to pay for such avant garde performance?
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
I first watched Twelfth Night here in 2012 and subsequently Othello in 2013. Both plays were very very well performed by the SRT and it was an enjoyable experience being able to munch on snacks while watching classics being performed.
The only drawback was the audio but I do not blame them. Being performed in an open space, it is hard to project to the entire audience. However, I feel that better microphones should be used so that the audience sitting further away can hear with better clarity.
Also, several members of the audience were spotted sleeping soundly. I found it rude and disrespectful to the performers but part of me feels that it is a pity they do not appreciate this form of art. However, as a deeply interested literature student, I will definitely be back for more. Fort Canning is a wonderful and fitting place for such events.
Thee, Thou, Thine.
As a literature student, catching Shakespeare in the Park live, at least once, is a must.
I admit, my first experience of this event was in this year, during April. Honestly, it wasn't really enticing initially - the concept of watching a play alfresco, sitting on a pile of grass with God knows what is in it.
By the time I managed to get there, there was a long, intimidating queue waiting to pass the gate. The air was filled with reverberating anticipation, and I could almost taste the eagerness from these ardent fans of Shakespeare. (Okay, so maybe I just exaggerated)
I was greeted with an amazing done-up stage that is very visually stimulating! It was really an eye-opening for a first-timer.
By the end of the three-hour show, I thought maybe it wasn't that bad after all. The grass can be quite a comfortable seat if you know how to settle yourself well. There was a group of audience beside us that brought with them some wine, grapes and food to savour while watching the play - ain't a bad idea huh?
The actors did an awesome job putting up the play, and majority of the audience enjoyed it, including myself. A pity, I was up at the back of the hill, so I couldn't see their faces clearly.
Fortunately, the night wasn't too humid, with occasionally light breezes caressing our faces gently. Oh, how welcoming.
However, the only slight turn-off was the sight of people sleeping on their mats while the play went on. Not only was it an extremely rude gesture and disrespect to the actors on stage, it simply reflects the fact that these people are uninterested. And it makes me wonder why they spent their money on the tickets to the show.
However, other than that, it was truly a refreshing experience to tear away from the conventional way of viewing a Shakespearean play in our comfy, heavily-cushioned seats in the dark, air-conditioned theaters.
Dreaming of it all summer!
Midsummer's Night Dream was all sorts of amazing at Fort Canning. The venue was sloping down towards the central stage that was set ablaze by Adrian Pang belting out a perfect rendition of his character. Was it him? I was seated quite a distant away from that stage which made the characters look slightly microscopic. However, Adrian Pang showcased his flawless English with strings of fluent sentences. His fellow casts there were equivalently impressive.
Albeit being seated further away from the stage, the audio transmitted via the speakers were rich in clarity. The venue also sparked a naturally relaxed ambiance that couldn't be unravelled even in the Esplanade. Basking in this harmonious ambiance, it seemed more like a festival coupled with that vibe that i usually encounter whenever I go for a picnic. People were sprawled across the grass patched venue, munching on sandwiches whilst remaining attentive towards the play. i was overjoyed. Esplanade usually forbade any food consumption in it's venues for hygiene purpose. Thanks to my munching and chewing, my eyes were much more wide awake and I didn't zone out like I frequently did when I witnessed the indoor plays.