Regional Shakespeare

Bard on the Fringe | Shakespeare in Toronto

By June 27, 2015 No Comments

This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Lauren here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto. This week, I’d like to introduce you to the three companies with Shakespeare productions at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Shakey Shake at The Lottery Party. Credit: Scott Murdoch, Five by Five Photography.

Shakey Shake at The Lottery Party. Credit: Scott Murdoch, Five by Five Photography.

The first Toronto Fringe Festival was held in 1989, and it has since grown into a fantastic opportunity for theatre companies and new shows to get their start in the business. Toronto Fringe is also a great showcase for dance, visual art, buskers, on-site performances and more! So, of course, some really savvy companies have pitched  some Shakespeare, and their productions were chosen at the Fringe Lottery Party.

The Shakespeare lineup for Toronto boasts the following productions: Hamlet … a puppet epic! by Shakey-Shake and Friends, The Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare BASH’D, and Twelfe Night, Or What You Will by Ale House Theatre Co.

Let me start then by introducing you to Shakey-Shake and Friends!

Shakey-Shake. Credit: Shakey-Shake and Friends.

Shakey-Shake. Credit: Shakey-Shake and Friends.

This theatre company performs great stories for kids, using puppets in the style of The Muppets and Wishbone. Mooney on Theatre reviewed their earlier production of The Tempest : “If you have kids or are a kid at heart, or if you like Shakespeare, this is a must-see. I only wish I could have seen something like this as a young person.”

“Plots! Schemes! Puppets! There’s something awesome in the state of Denmark! FringeKids favourite Shakey-Shake and Friends return with their most ambitious play yet: Hamlet! Comic hijinks abound as Shakes and the gang tell the tale of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy in the lighthearted tradition of the Muppets.”

Hamlet ... a puppet epic! Credit: Shakey-Shake and Friends.

Hamlet … a puppet epic! Credit: Shakey-Shake and Friends.

Directed by Sarah Bruckschwaiger, with the puppetry talents of Merritt Crews, Jeff Dingle, Erin Eldershaw, Luke Marty, Megan Miles, Shira Taylor, and Tom McGee, this is not a production to miss! Hamlet … a puppet epic! will be performed at the George Ignatieff Theatre in Toronto.

For all those of you who want to get their kids into The Bard, definitely check out Shakey-Shake and Friends this summer at Toronto FringeKids. Showtimes are as follows: July 01, 4:30pm / July 05, 10:00am / July 07, 10:00am / July 08, 3:15pm / July 09, 10:00am / July 10, 10:00am / July 12, 11:00am. This show has a running time of 55 minutes.  Tickets can be purchased online . 

Then we come to Shakespeare BASH’D and The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

Credit: Shakespeare BASH'D.

Credit: Shakespeare BASH’D.

Shakespeare BASH’d is an initiative started in 2010 by James Wallis and a group of young actors who decided to share their love of Shakespeare and stake a claim in the Toronto theatre community by exploring the works of Shakespeare in a collective environment to allow different perspectives and ideas from the entire company to be focused together. The final performance product would be derived from their own experiences, thoughts, and understanding of the works of Shakespeare and the world they were living in now.”

Shakespeare BASH’D is no stranger to Toronto Fringe, having previously won the “Best of Fringe” award! Directed by James Wallis and Catharine Rainville, with performances by Jade Douris, Lynne Griffin, Andrew Knowlton, David Mackett, Suzette McCanny, Julia Nish-Lapidus, Drew O’Hara, Andrew Joseph Richardson, David Ross and Sean Sullivan, this production is certainly going to be something to see! So come “crush a cup” with this site-specific performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Victory Cafe.

The running time for this show is 90 minutes. Showtimes are as follows: July 02, 7:00pm / July 03, 7:00pm / July 04, 9:00pm / July 05, 5:00pm / July 07, 7:00pm / July 08, 7:00pm / July 09, 7:00pm / July 10, 7:00pm / July 11, 7:00pm / July 12, 5:00pm. Tickets can be purchased online.

Last, but not least, we have a remount of Ale House Theatre Company‘s Twelfe Night, Or What You Will. 

Ale House's 2013 production of Twelfe Night. Credit: Joseph Hammond.

Ale House’s 2013 production of Twelfe Night. Credit: Joseph Hammond.

Ale House Theatre Co. is back at Toronto Fringe, remounting a production that was originally produced in 2013 at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. The remount is now a 90 minute production, keeping with the time restraints of Toronto Fringe performances, but it retains much of its original cast, with a few new additions for the 2015 season!

Twelfe Night. Credit: Ale House Theatre Co.

Twelfe Night. Credit: Ale House Theatre Co.

Twelfe Night is the sort of play that shatters ridiculous but endured assumptions of Shakespeare and his characters,” says director Joshua Stodart. Over the course of four Shakespeare productions, Ale House has used Original Practices as a launch pad for some of the most surprisingly fresh productions in Toronto Theatre. “Behind 400 years of plaque, we find a world where people were as vibrant, complex, and familiar as people today and where ale was safer to drink than water.” Ale House believes Original Practices to be one of many invigorating ways to bring life back to Shakespeare’s characters.”

So don’t miss out on this remount, directed by Joshua Stodart, with performances by Hilary McCormack, Tayves Fiddis, Dan Henkel, Mitchell Janiak, Peyton LeBarr, Tim MacLean, Andrea Massoud, Matt Shaw, Kyle Shields, Tal Shulman, Jake Vanderham and Chris Whidden. As previously mentioned the running time for this show is 90 minutes. Performances will take place at St. Vladimir Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online. Showtimes are as follows: July 01, 10:30pm / July 03, 1:15pm / July 05, 3:30pm / July 06, 8:15pm / July 07, 4:30pm / July 9, 7:00pm / July 12, 4:30pm.

As you can tell, there will be lots of Shakespeare to see at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival – so get out there, get your Fringe passes, and get Shakey!!!

Lauren Shepherd

Author Lauren Shepherd

Lauren Shepherd is a current PhD Candidate at The University of Toronto's Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. She has studied at Shakespeare's Globe, and researched in the RSC archives. She has studied under the direction of renowned actors/directors/playwrights/voice masters such as Howard Barker (and The Wrestling School), Jane Lapotaire, Emma Thompson, Trevor Rawlins, Philip Bird, Philip Stafford, Glynn MacDonald, & Stewart Pearce while abroad, and taken Masterclasses from Gloria Mann, Chick Reid & Tom McCamus in Canada. Lauren's current research is in the performance and diagnosis of 'madness' on the early modern stage. Lauren recently co-founded a performance troupe that works with early modern and Shakespearean texts, as well as adaptations and modernizations. The Shakespearience Group's work is experimental, and rooted in creating experiences of Shakespeare (and other early modern playwrights) that audience members can share and explore. Their goal is to create engaging performances that tell stories, communicate needs, and facilitate new experiences as well as the remembrance of past experience; the idea of recalling memories and exploring those pathways. Their inaugural performance was grounded in Lauren's PhD research on madness, titled Fortune's Fools, and premiered at the 2014 Flounder Festival at Burlington Student Theatre Centre. For the summer of 2015 The Shakespearience Group is scheduled to perform Twelfth Night, as well as run both Summer Camp (for youth aged 10-16) and Masterclass (for those 16+) at Burlington's local community theatre, Drury Lane.

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