Sadie MacDonald, left, and Gary Blackwood rehearse one of the short plays being performed this year as part of the Bard by the Bay set for Aug. 26 and 27. Blackwood, the director and producer for most of the performances, was filling in for another actor during the rehearsals. Raissa Tetanish photo

Intrigue is the name of the game when local actors and actresses hit the Senator’s Stage for the annual Bard by the Bay performances this month.

Gary Blackwood is back producing and directing most of the performances, which will see a total of two dozen cast members fill numerous roles in a handful of plays. There are two pieces that put together and directed by others.

“We want to intrigue people,” said Blackwood. “I love live theatre and I believe in live theatre…there’s nothing else like it.”

Blackwood first started producing/directing shows for the North Shore Players more than 10 years ago, doing two shows per year for about eight years. They were short, one act plays or short scenes as it’s hard to do a full play with people’s busy schedules.

The director and producer shied away from Shakespeare, however many started asking after a few years when the classic playwright would be incorporated.

“They’re Shakespeare-related, or shake-ups,” said Blackwood. “I think the only real (Shakespeare) scene is King Lear. The rest are take-offs.”

This year’s performances will feature Punchio and Judiette, as well as a silent version of the Scottish play MacBeth.

“Silent plays are really hard to do,” explained Blackwood. “You want the audience to laugh, but then they’re wondering, ‘why are you laughing?’”

The performers will also include a bit of an early draft of The Tempest, which Blackwood says has a “weird resemblance” to the Wizard of Oz, as well as a version of Twelfth Night.

Elizabeth Spence is not only one of the actors taking to the stage, but she’s also writing two of the songs for the silent film.

Blackwood said the performances are sometimes a struggle to do, but he loves to do.

“It’s something out of the mould of general theatre,” he said. “They’re more ‘off-the-wall’ things.”

Many people, said Blackwood, start off not liking or understanding Shakespeare, however their views have changed since seeing the performances.

“That’s because of the form you’ve chosen,” said Spence. “Putting in little bits here and there.”

She said it was Blackwood who got her involved over the years, but has said it’s been “such fun” to perform.

“It’s a great bunch of people.”

Sara Brinkhurst is returning this year and lending her talent for the costumes, having brought a basement of them with her from England.

She’s been a driving force behind (Bard by the Bay), too,” said Spence.

The performances begin at 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 and 27 at the Senator’s Stage. Viewers are asked to bring their own chairs, if possible. The rain location will be the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre.

Tickets are $15 for adults or $8 for students, and can be purchased at the door.