Lovin’ Shakespeare hits the ArtSpring stage



The last time we saw Christina Penhale and Jeffrey Renn on stage together at ArtSpring we were looking at them through our computer screens while they played to an empty house.

Lockdown in December 2020 meant their Jeff and Chrissy Show had to move online. They’re both excited to see those seats full again.

“It’ll be really nice to be in a room again with people,” Renn said. “We know that when we’re in the live witness, there are physiological responses that happen for us when we’re sharing the same space.”

The show they’re bringing back to the stage is Lovin’ Shakespeare, a commission for the ArtSpring Presents season.

“We started thinking about exploring a couple’s love story through Shakespeare, using his most iconic love scenes and characters, and coming back to the love that we all need,” explained Penhale.

As a play with a narrative thread, rather than a presentation of standalone scenes, the sections of Shakespeare plays are spoken through the voices of two characters.

“I’d always had this contention in the back of my mind that Shakespeare was part of a group dedicated to Queen Elizabeth,” Renn said, “so the play is an imagined encounter between Elizabeth and Shakespeare at a wedding, where they go off together and have a conversation. What is that conversation?”

Weaving in at least 22 iconic Shakespeare scenes, including Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, Renn has also drawn on Elizabeth’s speeches to parliament, sections of the Bible, philosophy and the Baha’i faith, along with his original writing.

“The show is about the transcendence of humanity, and our coming to consciousness,” Penhale said. “We’re celebrating our own love story and bringing some of what we feel we need right now, which is love and understanding, into the conversation.”

ArtSpring Presents: Christina Penhale and Jeffrey Renn – Lovin’ Shakespeare on Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets through artspring.ca or 250-537-2102.

Audience members should not that face masks must be worn at all times while at ArtSpring for those aged five and up.

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