WHITE Hills' The Garden For The Future is being used as a theatrical venue for a young theatre company performing a fresh take on Shakespearean comedy.
That's Classic Entertainment's Two Gents is a commedia dell'arte performance - a style that uses stereotypical characters and physical comedy - that tells the story of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Performer Scott Middleton helped create the company and show. Born and raised in Bendigo, he is excited to see open-air theatre become possible in the city.
"It's nice to be home. We made the show here, so nice to bring it back and to have a beautiful venue like this at our disposal," he said.
"It's lovely to put something on and show people there is another venue in town that is a viable option for theatre.
"There is so much space here, people can bring a picnic rug and some food and have a good night.
"It's been tough year and people are still facing challenges, so to be able to have a good laugh and a good time in a COVID-safe environment is what a lot of people need right now."
Two Gents was developed in 2020 and is part of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority's Victorian Certificate of Education-level Drama and Theatre Studies. It has already enjoyed two weeks of shows in Melbourne allowing students to see the show as part of their studies.
Opening in Bendigo on Monday, Middleton said schools from other regional areas had already visited the city to see the show.
"That was one of the reasons to do shows in Bendigo," he said. "Because we're so central, it allows schools from other regions to not have to travel to Melbourne.
"With so many school groups coming through, the most humbling part was seeing teenagers engage with Shakespeare so positively. Some students came back to see it again, which was cool."
Following a successful effort in 2021, That's Classic will consider developing more shows to be a part of the VCAA program.
"We'll try for that again next year to have the engagement of the students and to have a show that speaks to students and also adults," Middleton said.
"Getting people engaging with Shakespeare in classical theatre forms, that's what we're about. We would definitely love to do something like his again. Commedia ties in well with outdoor performances."
"This show came together through passion and philanthropic support. We also had funding from the City of Greater Bendigo, which we're thankful for. It was also a lot of grit and hard work and doing best with what we have.
"It allowed us to build a reputation and show the quality of entertainment we can provide. We have professional actors, so it is a very high quality show."
Middleton said That's Classic was working to operate as a professional theatre company that didn't rely on good-will.
"We're a not-for-profit so anything we make goes into future projects," he said. "Obviously we're paying everyone as well as we can with the budget we have, which doesn't happen a lot in the arts.
"We made a real focus on making sure we look after everyone in the project and not expecting everyone who does something to do it as a favour or for free. We are trying to contract people and do it the right way.
"We want to operate as professional company, are starting off that way and plan to continue in that fashion."
Middleton said people could book tickets online here.
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