Shakespeare by the Sea, Halifax

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Shakespeare by the Sea is a professional theatre company and registered society (Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies ID: 2365312) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Founded in 1994, it specialises in performing the works of William Shakespeare. Plays are performed outdoors in an amphitheatre formed by the ruins of the Cambridge Battery, an old military battery in Point Pleasant Park, and occasionally at other locations. The company is partially funded by government grants and private enterprise, with the main source of revenue coming from patrons' donations, which makes up about 70% of their revenues.

The company was formed by the late Patrick Christopher-Carter (1945–2005), his lifelong partner Elizabeth Murphy, and Jean Morpurgo. It has played every year in the park, performing three to four productions every summer.

In 1999, a "family" show was added to the repertoire using a theme from a classical fairy tale or legend. The tale is script is collectively created by the director and the cast, and usually includes a musical element created by a composer. From 1999-2004, the family show was known for its lack of traditional props, with only colourful Styrofoam pool noodles being used to create all props and set pieces.

In the summer of 2005, the company went away from the Pool Noodle concept and transformed the family show into a musical, directed by Jesse MacLean, with music written by actor Jeremy Hutton and lyrics by Hutton, MacLean, William Foley, Kevin MacPherson, and Kate Smith titled The Adventures of Robin Hood. The show, with new music and lyrics by Hutton and Kieren MacMillan, then received two workshop productions at the Toronto Youth Theatre in 2007 and 2008, both directed by Hutton. Shakespeare By The Sea brought the show back to Point Pleasant Park for production in the summer of 2011, garnering significant popular and critical success.[1] In January, 2013, Toronto’s Hart House Theatre presented a three-week run of the newest incarnation of the show, now entitled "Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy". This production played to many sold-out houses, and was a darling of both audiences and critics.[2][3][4]

In 2005, the Canada Day performance was The Midnight Twelfth Night, which began at midnight and concluded with the marriage of founders Patrick Christopher-Carter and Elizabeth Murphy. Following the sudden passing of Christopher-Carter later that year, in 2006 Elizabeth Murphy and Jennie Raymond formed a co-artistic directorship to steer the company through a transitional year. In 2007, Elizabeth Murphy took over as Artistic Director.

In some years a one-off peripatetic performance is staged, using various local, historic sites and batteries as dramatic settings for the play. To date, the company has performed Hamlet at the Prince of Wales Martello Tower twice, Richard III at the Sir Sandford Fleming Tower and at the Halifax Citadel, Henry V at the Halifax Citadel, King Lear at the Halifax Citadel, Julius Caesar in the historic courthouse on Spring Garden Road and Measure for Measure at the Prince of Wales Martello Tower.

Ms. Murphy has led the drive to develop the rehearsal and office space that the company uses into The Park Place Theatre, an 82-seat black box venue, to be used in the event of poor weather during the summer. The theatre has allowed the company to expand its operations into the spring and fall with small scale productions happening on an annual basis. The venue has also become a valued rehearsal and performance space for other small theatre companies based in Nova Scotia from Sept. to May each year.

In 2011, longtime Artistic Associate Jesse MacLean joined Elizabeth Murphy as a Co-Artistic Director. Since 2003, MacLean has directed 24 productions for the company.

2013 marked the 20th season of professional theatre presentation by Shakespeare By The Sea. The company played to 13,200 over 68 performances in Point Pleasant Park, making it one of the most successful seasons in recent years.


2013 - 20th Season: Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Snow White, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

2012 - The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Titus Andronicus, and Alice in Wonderland, Nevermore: The Hallowe'en Visions of Edgar Allan Poe

2011 - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Comedy of Errors, Measure for Measure, Robin Hood, and Dracula.

2010 - Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, and Treasure Island (in support the 100 year celebration of the Canadian Navy)

2009 - Love's Labour's Lost, Macbeth, and Jack and the Beanstalk-Market

2008 - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and Cinderelly

2007 - Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well, and Pinicchio

2006 - Much Ado About Nothing, and The Wizard of "Uh" Oz

2005 - The Merchant of Venice, Pericles Prince of Tyre, Twelfth Night, and Robin Hood

2004 - Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

2003 - Coriolanus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, and Peter Pan in the HRM

2002 - A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, As You Like It, and Alice in the HRM

2001 - Twelfth Night

2000 - Romeo and Juliet (in the U.K), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Ceaser, Rosencrantz and Guildinstern, Fables- The Lost Forest, and Scotland Road

1999 - Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, Waiting for Godot, and Jacob Two Two

1998 - The Little Prince, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V

1997 - Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, and The Martello Tower Macbeth

1996 - A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Comedy of Errors, and The Martello Tower Hamlet

1995 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

1994 - Twelfth Night

  1. ^ Best 11 Plays of 2011
  2. ^ Irreverent musical take on the Robin Hood story makes a clever, tuneful show that deserves a long life.
  3. ^ Hart House makes merry with a rollicking take on an English classic
  4. ^ A Robin Hood of glee, energy and verve, at Toronto’s Hart House Theatre

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