As the leaves start to fall, and the kids (young and old) are settling into school and work, the winds of Shakespearean change begin to blow. That’s right, Shakespeare’s fall season is beginning in Toronto with some quite amazing productions, events, and courses that students young and old can appreciate! The 2014/15 season is a great time to be a Shakespeare lover in Toronto.
The Classical Theatre Project (CTP) has a season centred on love, intrigue, and relationships – particularly those that go awry. Their season includes Macbeth (opening November 5), Romeo & Juliet (opening November 11), Hamlet (opening November 18), and Twelfth Night (opening November 25).
Their Romeo & Juliet promises to capture an audience’s imagination using just a chalk circle in the market and their live musical score. Macbeth seeks to prove its modern day value and relevancy. Twelfth Night takes a small step back in time to Vaudeville with 5 actors playing 11 parts highlighting the illusions and delusions of love in the play. This staging was originally performed in 2009. And their production of Hamlet brings film-noir to the stage.
If you like the sound of this season they’re also involved in school tours and workshop programs.
Speaking of programs, tours, and learning – why not fall into something really exciting this November… Toronto’s own Shakespeare In Action is curating the TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club. The club encourages kids aged 7-12 to explore, play, enjoy, and perform Shakespeare with other Shakespeare fans. They are educated by professional actors, and get to explore this season’s plays.
Shakespeare In Action’s performance of Hamlet comes to the stage in April 2015, perhaps you’d like to compare their Prince of Denmark with CTP! Their spring production incorporates mask works and shadow puppetry to highlight the dreamlike states the characters revel in throughout the production.
But have you ever been baffled by iambic pentameter? Probably not if you’re a Shakespeare Standard regular, but perhaps you know someone who is… well, have no fear because Shakespeare In Action is also offering a new workshop series where Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop led by Marcel Stewart.
Stewart is an alumnus of Brock University’s Drama Program working with Shakespeare In Action as a professional in the company. In this workshop series Stewart, and SIA, highlight the commonalities between Hip Hop/Rap lyricism, poetry, and rhetoric with that of Shakespeare’s own iambic verse. Most importantly the team is exploring the similarities in language construction as we question what is is to be human.
According to Stewart, “What Noise is This is an exploration of William Shakespeare’s canon through the lens of hip-hop music, particularly in the form of a hip-hop battle. Using a variety of mediums – rap, dance, live instrumentation, djing, graffiti – to interpret characters, concepts, themes, and storylines, the vision for the show is to introduce Shakespeare’s work to a young audience, in an inventive and accessible way, and then offer a platform for them to create their own hip-hop Shakespeare piece.”
It certainly seems like Toronto is where it’s at this fall for Shakespeare performances, education, and involvement! And if that’s not enough, check this out!
Shakespeare BASH’D is bringing Macbeth to The Monarch Tavern this November. If you think all these productions have a little too much educational agenda behind them, why not try Shakespeare BASH’D – a company who’s mandate is about taking ownership of their own creativity and passion. “Shakespeare BASH’d seeks to synthesize the traditional with the modern, to look at the plays from a place of curiosity, fun, excitement, truth, professionalism, and love”. And with tickets under $20, who could say no to experiencing passion, creativity, and love from a young company!
However, if you just can’t seem to stay away from your touchscreen long enough to watch a show – guess what?! Shakespeare at Play is the app for you. I was fortunate enough to catch up ever so briefly with Noam Lior, who just finished working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the app. Shakespeare At Play have had a really exciting fall as well, as this recent production was the talk of CBC, who came to their set to film and chat with the production team.
According to Lior, who has just made this production part of his Drama 100 course at the University of Toronto, “We now have a beta-version web-based platform up and running, being used by about a dozen schools in Toronto, as well as some schools and educators across Canada and the US. It’s not quite as beautiful as the iOS app, but it works on any web-capable laptop, desktop, Android phone/tablet, and iOS device, which creates a lot more flexibility for students and teachers. Student and teacher response so far ranges from positive to positively exuberant, and we’ll be doing more formal feedback sessions at the end of this term and next. Since it’s in beta, the web version is free for the time being, though it will become subscription-based starting next Fall. We just had a great meeting with the Toronto Catholic District School Board this week, and they’re looking at picking up Shakespeare at Play across several schools.”
Rumour has it, their next round of filming for the app might include Othello.
Sounds to me like Toronto is the up and coming place for Shakespeare performance and education. And if you still aren’t convinced, check back with me in two weeks for my interview with Kyle Villeneuve. We’ll be talking about taking Shakespeare into hospitals to entertain, educate, and heal.