This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Tori here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto.
It’s that time of year again! Teams from Shakespeare companies across the city to compete in Shakesbeers Showdown! #ShakesbeersShowdown is where Toronto’s hottest indie Shakespeare companies face-off in a battle of winner-takes-all, loser-drinks-most, as contestants cold read scenes from Shakespeare’s notoriously-hard-to-read First Folio. The winner is crowned the revered Shakesbeers Showdown Heavyweight Champion (complete with championship belt), and the losers…get a lot of beer. This year’s theme: Jurassic Bard.
For the first time ever, the SOTMSC opens up #ShakesbeersShowdown to all companies and members of the public. Companies do not have to be Shakespeare-based, and you don’t even have to have a company: there is a slot available for those without theatre companies to apply as a part of “the people”. Whether you are a Stratford regular or a theatre-school graduate, the title of #ShakesbeersShowdown Heavyweight Champion is yours for the drinking!
On top of all of this, a new rule has been set in place: In the interest of our commitment to gender diversity, 50% of teams must be women, trans, intersex, 2 spirit, nonbinary, agender or gender variant. The text may have been written by one (or a collection of predominantly) old white dude(s), but it doesn’t always have to be performed by them.
This year’s teams are:
The Stratford Festival
Skipping Stones Theatre
Shakey-Shake and Friends Theatre Company
Theatre By Committee
Shakespeare In The Ruff
Spur-Of-The-Moment Shakespeare Collective
I chatted with a few of the teams to get their thoughts on their chances and their competition.
Tori: Why is your team going to take the championship belt this year?4
Shakey-Shake and Friends: Because we have heart and soul and massive biceps!
Theatre by Committee Our unerring devotion to systems and rules. Like scansion, language, and company-wide memos. Also, we’ve been training our livers since university.
Skipping Stones Theatre: This is our first year participating in Shakesbeers. I’m banking on the whole “underdogs coming out on top” scenario to be the case. And let’s face it, this is just another Friday night.
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: We’re sorta playing for the house… Home field advantage I guess. We have worked together in the past and have a decent working knowledge of each-other as artists.
Tori: What do you both bring to the table that the other teams lack?
Shakey-Shake and Friends: Puppets. Fur. Nice hair. And seriously… Puppets. Effing puppets.
Theatre by Committee: Our tedious and efficient sense of bureaucracy.
Skipping Stones Theatre: The ability to hold our liquor under strange circumstances; and/or, the ability to propel forward as true thespian pros while secretly (not so secretly?) failing to hold our liquor.
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: Garlic.
Tori: Which team do you see as your biggest threat?
Shakey-Shake and Friends:The People. Cause they’re made of flesh and blood and not felt.
Theatre by Committee: All of the teams with Shakespeare in their name. They would seem to have some level of expertise.
Skipping Stones Theatre: Shakespeare in the Ruff.
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: Any one brave/foolish enough to compete is a threat. You gotta have some amount of wildness to think. “Cold reading the folio, while drinking in front of an audience? Sounds awesome!”
Tori: Why did you both decide/ your company decide to compete in Shakesbeers?
Shakey-Shake and Friends: Our creator, Tom McGee, filled out an application and we are his obedient servants.
Theatre by Committee: We’re here for the cause! We admire the work that SOTMSC does and are happy to honour the bard with an evening of drinks, fun, and a healthy competition which we will dominate…
Skipping Stones Theatre: Our company was formed by a group of (primarily) actors who all share a passion for Shakespeare and enjoy producing works from the bard for Toronto and GTA audiences. This seemed like a fantastic opportunity to do what we enjoy best: playing with text and supporting other indie theatre companies, such as SOTM, who are leading this event for a fantastic cause!
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: We were recruited after working with SOTMSC last year
Tori: Why should people come to the event?
Shakey-Shake and Friends: To watch people sweat tears of beer as the ancient text leaves them tongue tied.
Theatre by Committee: All of the competitors making drunken fools of themselves. It will be awesome.
Skipping Stones Theatre: Audience members who come out to support will be donating to SOTM’s Shakespeare in Hospitals 2018 program, what better reason could their be?! Oh yes, all who come out will be subjected to a smashing good time, surrounded by great company and witness to fools making fools of fool’s selves (ie. yours truly).
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: Hmm… Whether the performances are really good or really bad I think the components of compelling theatrics are all present. Plus, you can be a part of the show with some good heckling.
Tori: Any advice for your fellow competitors?
Shakey-Shake and Friends: Nope!
Theatre by Committee: All advice will be sent out in a company wide memo exactly 24 hours before the competition.
Skipping Stones Theatre: May the best fool win.
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: Nope. Eli says he is a Shakesbeers rookie
Tori: What colour should people wear to support you?
Shakey-Shake and Friends: Puppets don’t do colours. Puppets do puppets. Bring a puppet. Or at least some googley eyes.
Theatre by Committee: Orange. We are team orange.
Skipping Stones Theatre: Grey!
Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective: Blue!
Tori: Thanks! I can’t wait to see you all in action!
Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective is proud to present the seventh annual Shakesbeers Showdown: Jurassic BARD April 27th, 2018 at 918 Bathurst. This event has been graciously helped into being by 918 Bathurst. All funds raised go towards the Shakespeare-In-Hospitals 2018 Program.
Student/Arts Worker: $22 at the door ($18 online)
Honorary Judge: $100
Tickets are available at:
Or visit nowtickets.ca and search “shakesbeers”
Individual entry form (for “The People) can be found on at: http://spurofthemomentshakespeare.weebly.com/shakesbeers
* All Equity Artists are participating in this Benefit performance of Shakesbeers Showdown with the express permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.”