Every summer since 1990, western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare company, Bard on the Beach, has performed in open-ended tents on the waterfront in Vancouver’s Vanier Park. Now, with a $500,000 donation from BMO Financial Group, more people can sample the best of the bard in a tent that seats almost 750, features a thrust stage to bring actors closer to patrons and gives cast and crew more backstage space—while still remaining open at one end to highlight those million-dollar Pacific Coast vistas. Two tents in Canadian red-and-white fabric frame a village where food, wine and all things Shakespeare can be sampled and explored.
An international team of consultants developed the temporary venue, led by Ken Hollands of Scene Ideas, a Richmond, B.C., company with expertise in theatrical set design and construction. The SEC Group, Wilsonville, Ore., was one of the team members, and serves as an umbrella organization for a wide-ranging group of experts in special event tent design and innovation. The fabric structure features six custom steel arches spanning 40m (131 feet) in width and 35m (111 feet) in length, with a maximum arch height of 12m (38 feet), anchored by custom screw piles. Two of the arches are identical, with the remaining arches each being of different height and width. The main arch is also engineered to accommodate the additional weight of extensive stage lighting (inner tent fabric is dark blue to facilitate lighting requirements). Four of the tent’s six arches are tilted away from center, resulting in an appearance reminiscent of the Sydney opera house.