We are thrilled to share with you our ongoing Artist Feature segment with Friends and Artist-Educators of Shakespeare In Action. Alison is an Actor-Educator with us and over the past several years ran in-school workshops and our helps facilitate our TD Shakespeare For Kids Library Club in conjunction with Toronto Public Library. Check out our interview with her below!
1.What attracted you to wanting to work with youth in the community?
I love working with kids; their creativity, energy and excitement are infectious. I’m reminded that they’re called plays, so the spirit of making theatre should always be play-ful. Teaching kids about storytelling through Shakespeare is also a great reminder of the basics of acting and how to be clear in my own work. Most importantly, I’ve benefitted so much in my life from the encouragement of great drama teachers and directors, and I hope to pass along that positivity.
2. How did you get into the performing arts?
I was lucky to have grown up in a small town (Nelson, BC) with a vibrant performing arts community. There was a summer musical theatre program for kids, as well as year-round community productions, all based in a restored vaudeville theatre downtown. It was an amazing playground (and education) for me. One of the first plays I did was A Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was 15, and from then on, I was pretty much hooked. I also had excellent drama teachers throughout high school and once I became serious about pursuing an acting career, they were very supportive.
3. What is your favourite Shakespearean Play?
It’s a three-way tie between Macbeth, Twelfth Night and Cymbeline.
4. Who is your favourite Shakespearean actor on stage or film? Why?
For me, it’s British stage and film actor Mark Rylance. When he speaks Shakespeare’s words, it’s as crystal clear as any modern text. Because he’s so clear, parts of plays I’ve never fully understood or appreciated come to life. And he’s very funny, even playing Richard III. You can watch clips of his work on YouTube- I love him as Olivia in Twelfth Night.
5. Who are your favourite playwrights other than Shakespeare?
Caryl Churchill, Thornton Wilder, Oscar Wilde, Hannah Moscovitch and John Mighton.
6. Do you have an adaptation of Shakespeare that you love?
A few years ago I saw Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More (which is based on Macbeth) in New York City and it blew my mind. It’s wordless, interactive, dance-theatre set in an old hotel, but you somehow really feel like you’re in the world of Macbeth, meeting all of the characters and seeing each scene unfold in such exciting and unexpected ways.
Alison trained as a Teaching Artist through the Stratford Festival and York University and teaches Shakespeare to young people for Stratford and Shakespeare in Action. She is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School.Originally from Nelson, BC, Alison is a Toronto-based actor, dialect coach and Teaching Artist. As an actor, favourite credits include: Don’t Dress for Dinner (Thousand Islands Playhouse/ Western Canada Theatre/ Gateway); Boeing Boeing (TIP/ WCT); The Importance of Being Earnest (TIP); The Railway Children (Mirvish); The Little Years, The 39 Steps (Magnus); Romeo & Juliet, The Secret Garden (Resurgence); The Dining Room (Down & Out/ Campbell House); The Shape of a Girl (First Light); Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Touchmark); The Miser (Sudbury Theatre Centre) and Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and London Assurance (Stratford). As a dialect coach, credits include: Blithe Spirit, Educating Rita (TIP); Mary’s Wedding (Golden Apple) and Fishskin Trousers (Cart/Horse).