Ottawa

All's well that ends well for backyard Shakespeareans

It appears an Ottawa Shakespeare company's production of The Comedy of Errors has avoided tragedy after the amateur troupe was told their backyard performances were not to be.

Troupe to perform at Gladstone Theatre this weekend after city pulled the curtain

Cynthia Sugars, far left directs her actors in a scene from William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. The Company of Adventures will perform three shows this weekend at the Gladstone Theatre, starting Friday. (Sarah Kester/CBC)

It appears an Ottawa Shakespeare company's production of The Comedy of Errors has avoided tragedy after the amateur troupe was told their backyard performances were not to be.

The Gladstone Theatre has stepped in and offered The Company of Adventurers the use of its stage after the city's bylaw department ordered the play shut down last month for contravening zoning rules.

It looked like curtains for the young thespians, who for years have performed on the backyard deck of co-directors Cynthia Sugars and Paul Keen in Old Ottawa South.

But on Wednesday, Keen confirmed the production has been saved by the Gladstone's "act of incredible generosity."

"I think they understand — they've been working with kids themselves — how heartbreaking that is," Keen told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Wednesday. "They got in touch and said, 'Use our space.'" 

The city did offer the troupe the use of nearby Windsor Park, but Keen rejected the offer because it lacked a stage and other amenities.

From left to right, Neila Pringle, Abbey Sugars-Keen and Willa Spatz-Rudner act out a scene. (Sarah Kester/CBC)

Keen said despite the theatre's generosity, he'll miss the charm of the intimate, outdoor performances, and hopes the troupe can come to some new arrangement with the city in time for next summer.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful thing," Keen said. "A lot of our closest neighbours have been very strong, really supportive of it and love coming."

The Company of Adventures will perform three shows this weekend at the Gladstone Theatre, starting Friday. Audiences will be limited to 40 people. 

Attendance is free, but the group is accepting donations for the Ottawa Food Bank.

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