Shakespeare by the Sea

Audience waiting for the show to start

Last week, we saw a wonderful production of Robin Hood by Shakespeare by the Sea. The company performs outdoors in Point Pleasant Park, unless it’s raining, in which case they have an indoor space available.

This year, the plays are staged at the Cambridge Battery, a set of ruined fortifications  in the middle of the park. You couldn’t invent such a backdrop. At intermission, kids of all ages explored the set, if only to see the view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

We were treated to great hilarity, exciting swordfights, intriguing a capella harmonies, endearing characters (yes you, Sven), modern cultural references, a classic storyline with a contemporary twist, and a professional ensemble cast. I highly recommend Robin Hood for anyone age 4 and up.

Even if you are unaccompanied by a child, you will enjoy the play!

The company is also performing two Shakespeare plays this summer: A Comedy of Errors and Measure for Measure. We hope to see at least one of them in the next two weeks. Their season ends September 4. See their site for showtimes.

If you’ve seen any of their productions this year, feel free to leave a comment.

The Tattoo: See it at least once

French motorcycle team, bagpipe bands, in the Tattoo finale


That was my 11-year-old’s assessment of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo which he saw for the first time on Friday.

“What is it?” he kept asking before we went. “It’s … a show,” I said, inadequately.

It’s hard to describe the Tattoo; if you haven’t seen it, I’ll refer you to its own website, which says it is “the world’s largest indoor show…. featuring over 2,000 world-class Canadian and international military and civilian performers … a fast-paced, two-and-a-half hour family show featuring music, dance, acrobatics, drama and comedy in a number of innovative acts.”

Bands to the rafters and the choir during the finale

Originally modeled on the Edinburgh Tattoo in Scotland, the Nova Scotia Tattoo was first staged in 1979 and featured primarily military acts.

Over the years, many civilian acts have been added, including guest performers from all over the world.

In common with the military marching bands and demonstrations of physical prowess, virtually all the acts involved precision teamwork.

Estonian roller skaters pose for photos after the show

We saw a fabulous precision roller skating team from Estonia, the French Guarde Républicaine motorcycle ballet, a German gym wheel team, and of course, Scottish Highland Dancers from Nova Scotia and from Australia. The latter group mixed the traditional strict forms of Highland Dance with tribal rhythms and modern innovations, which I found intriguing, having grown up partly in Antigonish where many kids took Highland Dance lessons.

The highest level of millisecond exactness was displayed by an all-female New Zealand drill team.

Talentholdet's innovative rope skipping

The loosest group was the Danish gymnastic troupe Talentholdet whose playful exuberance contrasted refreshingly with the strict discipline of the other acts while performing jaw-dropping feats of tumbling.

Even the tightest military bands had their comic routines to keep us entertained.

Musically, it was impressive that the many brass bands, the bagpipe bands, the choir and the soloists, spread across the width of the Metro Centre, could play in ensemble (almost all the time) – another testament to discipline and talent. Quite the sound!

Notably most of the civilian performers were female – dance troupes in particular, and while there were many women in the military bands, you had to look closely to distinguish them in their uniforms.

The show has a strong vein of patriotism and support for the troops, in their current mission of training the Afghan army now that Canada’s combat role has ended. Included in the honours are police, firefighters, emergency medical services and other first responders who “serve and protect”.

Altogether, the Tattoo is a huge community effort supported by many volunteers. The audience contained people from every province in Canada and many from the USA.

It’s a show that just about everyone should experience at least once.

International Fleet Review in Halifax

Theodore Too and Georges Island.
Theodore Too sailing between the photographer aboard the sailing vessel Mar II, and St. Georges Island. (M. Sepulchre photo)

OK, Theodore Tugboat is not exactly representative of the Canadian Navy, but he was present during the international fleet review in Halifax Harbour on June 29, and so was HRM the Queen.

So also were my son, mother and stepfather (a former naval officer).

They snapped a few photos as they reviewed the fleet from the sailing ketch Mar II while the Queen did the same aboard HMCS St. John’s.

Queen Elizabeth II driving by
Her Majesty's distinctive hat and gloved hand waving to the photographer, no doubt. (M. Sepulchre photo)

I’ve added a few of their photos to the Halifax section of the Photo Album.

Both the Queen (according to the Chronicle Herald) and my family (according to reliable sources) were given warm wraps by their respective ship’s crew to fend off the foggy chill.

The two groups came into close proximity later (see photo left).