Julie Grace-Rix has missed only one show in the USQ’s decade-long Shakespeare in the Park Festival.
A trip to Europe in 2006 prevented her and her family and friends gathering for their annual picnic under the stars as they enjoyed the talents of USQ’s third-year acting students – but it won’t happen again, she says.
“It’s such a relaxed and inexpensive night out,” Ms Grace-Rix said. “I’m not a Shakespeare expert and I don’t go along with high expectations, but I am always very impressed with the fabulous job they do – seeing those students do that makes you feel proud. “We missed The Comedy of Errors, but there have been so many good shows over the years, like The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet.”
Ms Grace-Rix is no less impressed with this year’s offering, The Winter’s Tale. One of Shakespeare’s last works and quite different to many of his other plays, it tells the story of a king whose jealousy destroys his family.
“It really is a play of two parts,” Ms Grace-Rix said. “I appreciated how it focused on the darker issues of jealousy and regret, but with redemption came the wonderful comedy.
“The Winter’s Tale is a good one to see for people who are nervous about Shakespeare, because it is easy to follow, has relevant issues and has a contemporary feel.”
An annual dose of Shakespeare began almost as an accident – a comedy of errors, if you will – for Ms Grace-Rix. Growing up as a student in the 1970s, her school memories of lessons about the Bard’s works were not exactly fond, and having lived in the country for many years, her cultural opportunities were somewhat slim.
“Really, we just went along to the first one because it sounded like a good night out – it wasn’t so much about Shakespeare but more the chance to drink a bottle of wine under the stars,” she said. “My husband didn’t want to go, but we both ended up enjoying ourselves so much that we just kept going back each year.
“And over time it grew. I took members of my family, and my friends, and we would make a big night of it.”
This year’s show was tinged with a little sadness due to the recent passing of Ms Grace-Rix’s father – also a fan of the annual outing – but a group of eight still went along and toasted his memory.
Ms Grace-Rix does not know what show is on the USQ Shakespeare in the Park Festival agenda for 2014, but is very confident she will be packing up her blanket and picnic basket to go and watch.
The final performances of The Winter’s Tale will be held this week on the Festival mainstage (USQ Front Oval) on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evenings beginning at 6.30pm. Tickets cost $36 for adults, $28.50 concession, $20.50 student, $13 children, $82 family and are available from the USQ Artsworx Box office on 4631 1111, online or at the gate from 5.30pm each night.
For further information about this year’s Shakespeare Festival, visit www.usq.edu.au/shakespeare