No Holds Bard

I exercised the power of word of mouth the other day. During one of those typical Monday morning chats at work, you know the one, “so what did you do this weekend?” I mentioned that I checked out the No Holds Bard performance at Civic Center Park. And that led into the need to explain what No Holds Bard is. At the end of discussion, I found my partner in idle conversation was determined to attend the next production.


It went something like this.

Him: “You saw Shakespeare this weekend? I love Shakespeare!”
Me: “ Yeah, it’s this group that say they do Shakespeare as he intended it. They did Twelfth Night.”
Him: “Dude (ok, there might not have been a “Dude”), I love Twelfth Night.”

And from there I was obliged to give him the scoop on No Holds Bard. For a much better description of what they do and why than what I’m about to provide, check out their web site –


First, and most importantly, they don’t rehearse. Apparently, in Shakespeare’s day, the actors did a different play every night. After all, this was nightly entertainment for people so you didn’t run the same show every night for weeks on end. This did not leave a lot of time for rehearsing, so they didn’t. They would, however, have a roll – a script rolled up on dowels that they would carry on stage. And there we have our modern word for a role in a play.

Yes, everything does come from Shakespeare.

But back to No Holds Bard. It was a good performance, but definitely one of those times when you want to arrive early and get seats in front. Since there are no microphones and sometimes the acoustics in outdoor venues are not the greatest, you are relying on the power of the human voice to carry. And it can’t always carry over the sounds of traffic or constant occurrences of sirens.

For some reason, that night was a popular one for the fire department, but fortunately a second aspect of doing plays without rehearsals is that you have an official prompter/referee who makes the calls. One of those calls was to blow a whistle when the sirens got too loud and proclaim a halt to the lines until the sirens subsided. During this first siren postponement, one of the actors broke into a spontaneous round of “Bad boys, bad boys” which was promptly switched to “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire” when someone pointed out that the sirens were from fire trucks and not police cars.

The actors were not in time period costumes. In fact, one actor was a cheese head. And yes, I mean that literally. The guy must have been from Wisconsin, because he had on his Green Bay Packer jersey and a cheese head.

It was a fun event and great to see something besides major festivals or homeless people in Civic Center Park.


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