Vancouver’s other side of Shakespeare

In need of a little culture? Pull up a seat in Vanier Park’s open-air tents on the waterfront as you gaze out at the sea and the mountains beyond.

Sip your wine. Engage in witty conversation with your neighbor.

This is Vancouver, B.C.’s, “Bard on the Beach” Quentin Tarantino festival, May 29 to Sept. 27.

I’m kidding, of course. But Tarantino’s got nothing on William Shakespeare – the actual name behind the festival – and 2008 organizers have selected the Bard’s most appalling work just to prove it.

Juxtaposed with that old chestnut, “King Lear,” the delightful “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest,” “Titus Andronicus” gives us the plight of Lavinia, a sexually assaulted woman liberated of her hands and her tongue.

What could be more edifying?

Nevertheless, it is Shakespeare, and the festival packages him with the “Bard-B-Q and Fireworks” on July 23, 26 and 30 and Aug. 2. The informal salmon barbecue winds up with coffee, treats and the “Celebration of Lights Fireworks.”

With apologies to reader Larry – who wrote recently to second my friend Ben’s objection to so much mention of alcohol-related tourism – the festival also wraps a play up with wine tasting in “Celebrating Red and White,” a pairing of wine and cheese on Aug. 16.

Or if you just want to talk it all out, give “Chatterbox Tuesdays” a try. The preshow 101 and post-show Q&A with cast members run July 17 through Aug. 26.

“Young Shakespeareans” workshops get kids 8 to 18 up to speed, but presumably not about Lavinia’s particular predicament.

Finally, in “Forum: Shakespeare and The Threat to Order,” Simon Frazier University’s Paul Budra, “bard education consultant” Mary Hartman and members of the Bard Co. will invite you to take an even closer look at the dramatic potential of changing times, when “social orders crumble and chaos threatens.”

For even more Canadian-style culture, stick around for “Operas and Arias,” Aug. 25, and Sept. 1 and 8.

Fresh from their performance of “Don Giovanni” in Prague, the University of British Columbia Opera Ensemble will treat you to the Mozart work’s greatest hits, accompanied by the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

Find out more at www.bardonthebeach.org or (877) 739-0559.

Splendor in the glass

You’ve probably signed up already for the Glass Art Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Portland. What a rollicking good time that will be.

But if not, a concurrent exhibition in the Portland Japanese Gardens, June 14 to 30, should satisfy your appetite for breakable art.

“Frozen Music: Glass in the Garden” showcases six Japanese artists.

A special outdoor installation will display Jun Kaneko’s large-scale works, “African Reflections” and “Color Box.” He created those pieces at Portland’s Bullseye Glass, after a long career in painting and clay sculpture.

In the Garden Pavilion, you’ll find works by the other five featured artists, including Hiroshi Yamano, known for combining stone, metal, silver leaf engraving and copper electroplating with blown and hot sculpted glass.

Get a complete rundown of the garden’s spring events at www.japanesegarden.com. Or phone (503) 542-0280.

Ohme, oh my

In other horticulture news, Ohme Gardens has opened for the season.

The Ohme family spent 60 years transforming a desolate Wenatchee hillside into nine acres of alpine garden. Impressed with their work, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Purchased the property in 1991.

The executive director of the Wenatchee Convention and Visitors Bureau (who gets paid to say such things) declares, “There is really nothing else like it throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

If that entices you, you can visit the garden every single day between now and Oct. 15. You’ll wander nearly a mile of natural stone pathways or take your ease on a stone bench as you explore plant life like false Solomon’s seal, thimbleberry, creeping thyme-woolly, field pussytoes, cobweb houseleek and more.

Those are just the more colorful names; there are scores of plants to enjoy, and they’ll even sell you some.

There’s a complete list, along with the story of the Ohmes and their family project, at www.ohmegardens.com. For real human contact, call (509) 662-5785.

Regional events

•American Indian Council of MSU Powwow, May 2 and 3, Bozeman. No surprises here. You’ll find traditional dancing, drumming, singing, foods, and arts and crafts. ( www.visitmt.com/406-994-3751)

•Packwood Mountain Festival, May 4-6, Packwood, Wash. The “celebration of local heritage” includes a quilt show and demonstrations of one-stroke painting, creating stained glass art, handcrafting wooden toys, flint-napping (also known as making an arrowhead), open-fire Dutch oven cooking and more. ( www.visitrainier.com/877-270-7155)

•Viking Fest, May 16-28, Poulsbo, Wash. Norway takes center stage with the Viking Village, a visit to Viking life in 1500. Also included are food, entertainment, carnival rides, the Viking Fest Parade, and a pancake breakfast, of course. ( www.visitkitsap.com/800-416-5615)


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