All Shall Be Well Montreal Shakespeare-in-Park Repercussion Theatre

Montreal’s new Shakespeare-in-the-Park play asks whether or not “ça va bien aller”

All Shall Be Well, written by Repercussion Theatre artistic director Amanda Kellock and revolving around the work of Shakespeare, tours local parks from July 14 to Aug. 6.

Repercussion Theatre is bringing the Bard of Avon’s words back to Montreal parks this week with the return of Shakespeare-in-the-Park.

2022’s season presents All Shall Be Well, an original play based on William Shakespeare’s work. It marks a move back to the Shakespeare-in-the-Park format we know and love after a long pandemic-imposed hiatus.

“It’s really been a two-year pause — even with great effort,” says Rebecca Gibian, who was hired by Repercussion Theatre to direct All Shall Be Well.

Last year, the theatre company staged the Summer Sonnets in order to have something to offer audiences that could easily be adapted to sudden challenges brought on by the virus. 

“This year is a return to the standard Shakespeare-in-the-Park, touring Montreal and its surroundings parks — coming to a park near you!”

All Shall Be Well was written by Repercussion Theatre’s artistic director Amanda Kellock, drawing inspiration from the two years of upheaval we collectively endured and the parallels we can draw between our recent past and Shakespeare’s time.

“It’s a great, wonderful conceit: five actors looking for the plague in Shakespeare — so it is both Shakespearean text and Kellockian text, if you will,” she says.

The era when Shakespeare was writing was marked by many outbreaks of the bubonic plague. This is the historical backdrop that is not always explicitly stated in his work, but an attentive reader can spot the allusions to it.

“He lived through a lifetime of plague. It’s something that’s so hard to even fathom for us, a lifetime of waves of plague. But I think we’re a little closer to understanding something like that in this moment,” Gibian says.

“We see things differently now, I know I hear things differently, I engage with art differently. And through this play, it’s an opportunity for us to explore how we experience Shakespeare differently. The play’s goal I’d say is to collapse the time between then and now.”

The actors speak directly to the audience as they search for evidence of the plague in Shakespeare’s writing — and it’s as much of a bumpy ride as COVID-19 has been, Gibian assures me with a laugh. 

Is a happy ending possible, All Shall Be Well asks? Est-ce que “ça va bien aller,” vraiment?

“It’s very much a searching and a wrestling with this idea,” she says. 

But one thing is for certain: the play’s theme and structure provide an unmatched live and in-person experience, something we’ve all had a lot less of in our lives these past few years.

“I’m excited to come back to live theatre that is unabashedly like theatre,” Gibian agrees. 

“This isn’t a play you can watch on Netflix — it’s happening to you live. It’s happening tonight. This is the first and only time these five people will gather in front of this group of people in this park.

“Shakespeare in the Park, to me, is all about connection. You get to connect in a park, a public space and a common ground,” she says. “There’s something in coming together finally, and holding each other through something.” ■

For the schedule of the Shakespeare-in-the-Park All Shall Be Well tour in Montreal, please visit the Repercussion Theatre website.

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.