Katie Boyle and Giles Burton are part of the team putting on Nelson Summer Shakespeare’s performance of The Comedy of Errors. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Summer Shakespeare returns to Nelson


When Katie Boyle first learned that Shakespeare’s plays were actually rather naughty, it changed her entire view of them.

“As soon as you get it on stage and it becomes performed, rather than on paper, it transforms.”

She had a teacher who emphasised the “bawdy” nature of The Bard.

“It became exciting to perform.”

So Katie did – she toured with a troupe to the Pop-Up Globe in Auckland and then she put on her own homage to Shakespeare under the simple premise: “What if I played all the characters?”

And now she has crossed the Cook Strait to help Nelson Summer Shakespeare put on The Comedy of Errors.

“Nelson is beautiful, and I’ve brought my other shows here and it’s always divine.”

Katie says putting on a show is something that is easy to take for granted.

“It’s exciting that an audience gets to see and sit in a public space with a proper fully fledged cast and see Shakespeare out in the park. That is special.”

The play follows the fortunes of two sets of twins who are separated in a shipwreck and are trying to find each other and hilarity ensues.

Director Giles Burton says he wanted to do this play this year because it’s an unadulterated farce.

“Our first criteria is that we make it understandable, then it’s about making it accessible and also joyful.”

The usual Summer Shakespeare cast has been shaken up with some younger people coming in, which Giles says has given it a fresh energy.

“As well as being really good fun, we are outside. You can grab food from carts or bring your own picnic. It’s a really enjoyable evening experience all round.”

They also have a ‘pay what you decide’ model which means that those who might not be able to afford a top-quality show can come along.

However, those who can afford it are encouraged to give generously as it is how the actors get paid for their work.

The cast will put on about 17 performances across Nelson, Tasman and Blenheim.

Katie says, whether she is performing by herself or with a big cast, in front of several people or thousands, there is always something that can be accessed by the crowd when it is performed well.

“It’s the same here. If anyone is worried they won’t be able to understand it, they will. Why do you think we have been performing it for 400 years?”

Nelson Summer Shakespeare presents The Comedy of Errors at Fairfield House Meadow January 13–20, Riverside Community, January 22–23, Washbourn Gardens, January 26–27 and Isel House, January 29–30.