Wed, Apr 6, 2022 10:00 AM

Bard to transform Blenheim vineyard


Staff reporter

Come and be a part of the live theatre phenomenon taking New Zealand by storm.

The Barden Party is Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it before. Fresh off winning the Excellence Award at the Dunedin Fringe Festival, the theatre company has quickly established itself as a must-see event, with bookings in private gardens, public venues, and even a castle, right across the country.

And now, on April 9 and 10,  it is coming to Forrest Winery to transform its beautiful grounds into the joyful world of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ - where lords, ladies, and fairy magic create mischief and laughter aplenty. This is the final chance to see the show in New Zealand before the troupe heads off to take its pocket of joy to the United States in July.

Photo: Joshua Martinsen.

The group’s name comes from William Shakespeare's nickname, “The Bard”, combined with a good old-fashioned garden party. It was a concept dreamed up by director Laura Irish as the accomplished actor faced down yet another show cancellation due to Covid-19. With traditional theatres unable to operate in Level Red, Laura had another idea.

“I was standing on my deck and thought ‘what if we just put a show on in people’s gardens. Better yet, what if we start it in my own garden.”

From there the concept has snowballed - being performed around the country as a way for Kiwis starved for live theatre to celebrate birthdays, retirements, or just a way to share some joy with friends and family.

Photo: Joshua Martinsen.

The Barden Party offers a truly authentic vintage theatre experience with a twist - fusing modern music throughout the show to delight fans of contemporary pop. Operating as a traveling troupe just as was done hundreds of years ago, they also carry all of their props and set with them and are able to adapt their performance to suit almost any space.

Laura says the family-friendly show is unlike any other Shakespeare performance you may have seen in the past.

“Our priority is fun and making sure our audiences know exactly what is happening.”

The lighthearted comedy is the perfect chance for the uninitiated to dip their toes into the world of Shakespeare.

Photo: Steve Hussey.

Audiences only need to bring their own blankets, chairs, cushions, picnics, and soft drinks. A selection of wine from the Forrest and Doctors range and Double Vision beers will be available for purchase. The event will take place outside. However, in the event that we are unable to proceed with an outdoor event, the performance will be moved to a marquee into the grounds.  

The Barden Party at Forrest Wines, April 9 and 10 at 3pm.

Tickets from ASB Theatre, TEL 03 520 8558 or online at

For more information follow The Barden Party on Facebook and Instagram. Or to support the troupe’s journey to the United States head to

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