Matthew Edgar, a rising star!


Matthew Edgar, a Year 13 Drama student, has been treading the boards for months in the very popular performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Barden Party.

The Barden Party are a group of Nelson performers who came up with the wonderful idea of performing in people’s gardens and other outdoor spaces when we went into lockdown last year in the midst of their rehearsals. They advertise themselves on their Facebook page like this:

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 (their name comes from The Bard + Garden Party), and they have quickly established themselves as a must-see event, with bookings in private gardens and public venues right across New Zealand from November through April.

Unlike any other Shakespeare performance you may have seen in the past, The Barden Party offers a truly authentic vintage theatre experience with a modern twist- operating as a traveling troupe just as was done hundreds of years ago. They carry all of their props, set and instruments with them, and are able to adapt their heartfelt performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to suit a wide variety of spaces, giving them the freedom to transform private backyards, gardens, and public venues into a joyful world of lords and ladies and fairy magic, with mischief and laughter aplenty.

Directed by Laura Irish and musical direction by Jake Byrom Robinson, this family-friendly jukebox musical extravaganza makes Shakespeare’s language accessible for audiences of ALL ages and experience levels. With lively musical outbursts featuring music by artists such as Billie Eilish, George Michael, Hall & Oates (and more!) and laugh-out-loud moments by professional actors and improvisers woven throughout the story, this lighthearted comedy is the perfect chance for the uninitiated to dip their toes into the world of Shakespeare’s stories and language.

Demetrius (Matthew Edgar) and Lysander come to blows over their love for Helena. — Image by: Supplied

Matthew plays a lead role as Demetrius in the show and has been performing for several months now, right through the summer in Nelson in various venues, private and public, outdoors. They are about to tour venues on the South Island and Wellington over the next few weekends, and plan to tour the USA later in the year. 

If you would like to support this group’s trip to the US, there is a Go Fund Me page at

Matthew Edgar (front) with some of the cast from The Barden Party’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream — Image by: Supplied

And it doesn’t end there for Matthew. He has also recently been a speaker in this year’s All in for Arts event organised by The Arts Foundation, the only young person involved and representing Nelson.

Matthew is a face to watch. I have a feeling we will be seeing much more of him in years to come.

We wish him and his fellow cast members all the best for their tours around the country and to the US. Break a leg!

By Verity Davidson