This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Tori here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto
On Monday April 2 Secret Shakespeare is mounting its 6th installment and all proceeds will go to the Jon Kaplan Memorial Fund. Founded in 2016, each instalment is in support of a different cause and directed by a new individual. Actors have one month to learn their lines, and one day to stage the show with their director in the space. The audience learns which play they’ll be seeing as it begins. This installment is directed by Shakespeare Bash’d’s James Wallis and features an all-star cast. I had the opportunity to chat with James about the show and how he’s handling this unique challenge.
What is Secret Shakespeare?
Secret Shakespeare is a fantastic event, that is now in its sixth installment having played at other theatres across the city over the last two or three years. Essentially I’ve chosen a play, selected actors, given them roles, they are learning them, then on the day, we are going to come together to rehearse and then present the show that night. The best part: the audience won’t know what Shakespeare play they are seeing until the lights go down and the first lines are spoken. It’s a completely new experience when it comes to viewing Shakespeare.
Why did you decide to get involved?
Any chance to work on the text is something that I’m interested in. Plus, I thought the idea of rehearsing a show in one day is so terrifying and exciting I just had to be a part of it. I thought it was a good opportunity to work with some new actors and work on a play that I could challenge myself with.
What should audiences know before coming to see the show?
That it’s supposed to be fun! This whole project is kind of a way to relive the circumstances that Shakespeare rehearsed and presented his plays in his own times. It’s an experiment and should be treated as such. The company of actors is amazing and they are all working hard; they are going to be so amazing and I know that the audience will be there to support. We all need to be in the moment, both audience and actors and experience the text with as little preconceived notions as you can. Submit to the unknown!
Plus, all the proceeds from the box office are going to the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund, which works towards offering awards and support to established artists and young students. Jon Kaplan was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Donating the revenue from this event to his memory is something that is very special to me and to the Theatre Centre.
What are you most excited for?
Working with the incredible company on this play! How that spark of instinct, that we are all going to have rely on, is going to drive us forward! We don’t have anywhere near the time we usually have! And I’ll tell you this for free, the play is hard! But I think that will require us to simplify, keep it clear and driven, and full of life. Plus, The Theatre Centre is an incredible venue, it’s going to be cool to see Shakespeare there.
What are you the most nervous about?
How have you approached/ will you approach directing?
I’m giggling as I type this, I think I will help as much as I can with clarity, but I have some ideas that I’d like to bring to the play we are doing. Mostly, I would just like to encourage the text to be the actors’ ship and sails. Hopefully, they will feel free to unleash it for themselves. Again, I say, the company is fantastic; I’m very fortunate.
Can you give us any hints as to what we might expect to see?
Shakespeare!!! (I don’t want to risk giving anything away.)
Get your tickets now before it’s too late!
Secret Shakespeare: the 6ix: April 2
8 PM at the Theatre Centre
1115 Queen Street West.
Pay What You Can all proceeds will go to the Jon Kaplan Memorial Fund.
Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/secret-shakespeare-the-6ix-tickets-44119379251?aff=eac2