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Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival on the hunt for talented dog

Is that a dachshund I see before me?
Some Shakespeare scholars consider the role of Crab the dog in The Two Gentlemen of Verona to be “the most scene-stealing non-speaking role in the canon.”

UPDATE: The dogged efforts of a would-be canine actor will be soon rewarded with a part in this summer’s production of the romantic comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Earlier this month, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival called for applicants to play Crab the dog, who belongs to a servant in the play named Launce.

After sifting through “a large volume of applications,” festival organizers have narrowed down the search to 12 dogs, who will audition for the part this Friday, March 31.

They will appear before a panel including director Scott Bellis. Each audition is expected to take around 15 minutes during which time the candidates will have an opportunity to highlight their training, showcase their temperament and engage in a chemistry test with actor Andrew Cownden.  

Your beloved, dander-free Corgi-Irish Wolf Hound-Sharpei-cross has its own Instagram feed, looks great in sweaters and naps like a champion. But how is he or she at Shakespeare?

Vancouver’s annual Bard on the Beach festival is on the hunt for a captivating canine to fill out its roster of performers.

While all the main casting has been completed for the upcoming theatrical season, there is one role that has yet to be filled — that of Crab the dog, who belongs to a servant named Launce in Shakespeare’s early romantic comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Some Shakespeare scholars have gone so far as describing Crab as “the most scene-stealing non-speaking role in the canon.” So no pressure.

The play’s creative team is holding auditions for aspiring four-legged thespians March 31. Helping them out with the — wait for it — ruff decision will be Vancouver dog trainer and owner of Dogstars animal talent agency Georgian Bradley.

So what will put your pooch ahead of the pack and land them in the lap of luxury, stardom, groupies, drugs, scandal and, ultimately, redemption common among summer Shakespeare festivals?

According to Bard artistic associate and the play’s director Scott Bellis, a few things.

“I’m looking for either a large, calm dog that will be happy to lie still, regardless of the surrounding distractions, or a perkier dog that will respond to Launce when encouraged and maybe even do a trick or two,” Bellis said in a press release. “Either way, the dog has to be well-behaved, and absolutely able to keep his or her composure when surrounded by bright lights and audience noise. No [other] special skills, or experience with Shakespeare, is required.”

The press bumph goes on to say that since Shakespeare didn’t specify what breed Crab was, there is room for a diverse range of dogs to try out for the role. So good luck, pitbull owners.

Deadline for applications is Wednesday, March 15, 4 p.m. Interested dog owners (or their agents) need to fill out an online application form, include a photo of their dog and, if possible, provide a link to a short video (hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) demonstrating how their dog moves and responds to instructions. Ability to bark in iambic pentameter, while impressive, is not necessary.

Bard on the Beach runs June 1 to Sept. 23 at Vanier Park. Details at


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