Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan unveils permanent theatre, inclusive community space

The new, permanent space for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is finished after six years of work.

Reinventing the space has been talked about since 2014, with construction starting in November of last year. Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan started on the land 35 years ago as squatters, overlooking the Saskatchewan River.

Now it has permanent infrastructure it said it wants to share with the rest of Saskatoon.

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The most exciting feature is the new stage. How it’s designed means each play can have a unique layout if they choose.

“Myself as a director, as an actor and as an artist, those are always the most exciting things to be able to up the game of the art we’re able to offer the community,” said artistic director Will Brooks.

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Mary Nordick has volunteered with the group for nearly 30 years. She said she’s excited about the new storytelling abilities this setup allows.

“Now we have a facility that can bring new life to these plays,” she said.

“It can give us (many) more possibilities that we maybe haven’t dreamed of before.”

The new setup allows actors to take a tunnel onto the stage, for example, popping up out of nowhere to surprise the audience

There is also the opportunity to take part of the show off the stage to engage with the rest of the space.

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The renovated site is a more open concept with pathways for pedestrians to walk through and an Indigenous Contemplation Cirlcle which will be built. There will also be a spiritual site in the area, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan said.

The projects’ Indigenous cultural adviser said the group wanted to make the space more inclusive to everyone.

“I do enjoy what they’re doing, trying to Indigenous some of the Shakespeare stories in here, the theatre pieces that they’ve included,” said Joseph Naytowhow.

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“I’m very impressed.”

Construction cost around $6 million, with money coming from donors, along with both the federal and provincial governments. A few things are still in the works, such as bathrooms, but the organization said it hopes to get those touches finished in the next year.

The space will be open to the public Sept. 14.

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