One of the saddest features of ‘The Arts’ in Australia is that Shakespeare, that wildly popular playwright who enthralled the masses in Elizabethan England, is now seen to be elitist theatre and inaccessible to most people. One of Damian Ryan’s crowning achievements,as creative director of Sport For Jove, is to make Shakespeare live in modern times and in doing so he creates a truly authentic, brilliant and fun experience. His season starts at Bella Vista farm and then moves to Leura- both outdoor venues where audience members are encouraged to bring picnic food cushions and blankets.
This year he is directing the Roman Pair- both ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’It is a marvelous way to see the sequence of events. As usual his setting is innovative and utilises the three dimensions of the stage.He also brings new ideas to enliven the plot, and the cast is utilised cleverly to create an enormous number of stage characters. I really love the way costumes convey both the historic period but also suggest a link to the present, since the themes of every play have never become outdated.
As a Shakepeare lover he brings new clarity to every play that I see. For those who have not seen or who do not care for Shakespeare I do believe that a trip to Bella Vista will be such a great experience that you will never miss another season. Ultimately Shakespeare was supposed to be fiercely entertaining….and Sport for Jove with Damian Ryan at the helm is the best incarnation in Australia- perhaps the world.