This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Tori here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto.
In less than two weeks, star-crossed lovers and performers of Shakespeare will gather together for the sixth annual Shakesbeers Showdown to help raise money for Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective’s Shakespeare in Hospitals Initiative. The premise is simple: actors from some of Toronto’s best Shakespeare companies will gather together to attempt to read sections of the first folio while consuming enormous amounts of beer. For every mistake that is made, the competitor must drink. The last competitor standing this year will receive the coveted Heavyweight belt and the heavyweight of the beer in their stomach. I caught up with the teams competing this year and will be posting their responses over the next two weeks, I recently chatted with Tom Mcgee from Shakey-Shake and Friends. These Fringe favourites are mostly known for their kid-friendly puppet adaptions of Shakespeare but are veteran fan favourites at the Shakesbeer Showdown.
Tori: What do you think you bring to the table that the other teams don’t have?
Tom: Puppets! We literally bring puppets to the table. One of the most important parts of performing at the Shakesbeers Showdown for us is making sure that even though it’s a special event, we’re still authentically representing what we do. Lots of companies do Shakespeare, but we’re the ones who do it with puppets and this event should be no different! Plus, Shakey-Shake wrote all the plays, so he’s got a hell of an edge in competition.
Do you have any strategies?
Our biggest strategy, as always, is to entertain the audience! They’re the ones who paid to be there and we’re the ones who owe them a show! Performing the folio cold while also puppeteering AND drinking our mistakes is a lot more difficult, but also – I’d venture – highly entertaining for the audience. They came to see us fail as hilariously as possible and as with all things in life, failing is even more hilarious with a puppet involved!
Who do you think is your biggest competition and why?
Well, according to the promo video, it looks like our pal Jeremy Hutton from the Lower Ossington Theatre might be bringing the LOT’s Audrey puppet to the show, which of course is cause for great concern to Shakey-Shake and his friends. As a lifelong fan of the ouvre of the great Rick Moranis, Shakey-Shake knows all too well the danger of underestimating Audrey. We’ve got unexpected allies in the form of the Wolves of Wolf Manor, though – so perhaps our powers combined into some kind of felt/wolf Megazord-y kinda thing that can finally put the plant down? Only time will tell.
What do you like most about this event and why have you chosen to participate?
In a lot of ways, the Showdown is like indie Shakespeare Christmas – it’s a great chance for all the indie Shakespeare folks of Toronto to get to hang out, reconnect, and have a blast together. It’s always great running into each other at shows, but there’s something really fun about getting a yearly excuse to hang, chat, and conspire. That would be reason enough, but the fact that we’re also able to help raise money for the infinitely worthy cause of Shakespeare in Hospitals and bringing the words of The Bard to those who need it most makes the Showdown all the better.
What is your one message or piece of advice for each of the other teams?
It’s always an honour doing battle in such good company: let’s give the audience the Bardian bloodbath they deserve!
What is your favourite beer?
I’m currently on the east coast and have been quite enjoying the local brew scene. If you get the chance, check out The Boxing Rock beers, The Garrison IPA and Star Trek line (like the Red Shirt Red Ale), and the recent addition to the scene 2 Crows. Back home, my seasonal favorite Octopus Wants to Fight from The Great Lakes Brewery is back sporting Toronto’s greatest beer image (of an octopus…who wants to fight).
What is your favourite Shakespeare play?
This changes about as frequently as you’d imagine from someone who adapts Shakespeare’s work; my longtime favourite since childhood is a two-way tie between The Tempest andMacbeth, but honestly, I’ve got a soft spot for all the ones I’ve worked on – most recently,Twelfth Night, largely because I finally got to explore a side of Malvolio and Sir Andrew that I’ve always wanted to dig into. And it was great. I also unabashedly love The Lion King, which I also fully give credit to Shakes for. So maybe that?
A boisterous good time for audience and performers alike, The Shakesbeers Showdown is a celebration of Shakespeare, indie theatre, and all fans of a good, healthy (ridiculous) competition. All proceeds go towards the Shakespeare-In-Hospitals 2017 Program. The project is set to embark on its 2017 tour this fall, bringing Shakespeare to the common rooms and bedsides of hospitals and shelters throughout Toronto.
So grab a pint and raise your voice to support your favourite team…because trust us, they’re gonna need it!
The Shakebeers Showdown Vol. 6
April 30th at 918 Bathurst St.
Doors at 6:00, Show at 7:00
Early-Bard Tickets (available until April 1st) $15
Students/Arts Workers: $18
General Admission: $20
Tweet-Seats (front row with a free beer) $25
Buy in advance before they’re gone: http://shakesbeers2017.bpt.me
Check back soon for more from the rest of the teams!