Feature Artist

October Artist Feature- Kristian Hansen


Meet Kristiaan Hansen, one our assistant directors for Shakespeare Kids and Teen Camps this summer. He is back in the thick of things up at York University finishing his bachelors for the year and we wish him the best!

Q & A

What interests you in a 400 year old text?:

The challenge of finding my own voice, as well as finding new life, new meaning, and a new way to tell the story!

What is your approach to acting?

The thing is to BE there, be breathing, and be ready to play like a kid again!

Any performances/actors/personal experiences that influence you as an actor?

Patrick McManus in Peter Hinton’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ last summer at the Shaw Festival! Patrick’s openness and playfulness in the moment made the work so natural and beautiful to watch! I would love to work with him one day.

Why Shakespeare in Action?

I previously had the chance to work with Michael Kelly during our Shakespeare module at York last year, so I’d heard quite a bit about the company! In addition to that, I’ve always loved working with children, and wanted to see how a teaching role would broaden my horizons as an actor!

What is your favourite Shakespeare film adaptation?

My favourite film adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s plays is Kenneth Branagh’s version of ‘Hamlet’!

July Artist Feature – Alison Deon

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 & JulietThe 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).


May Feature Artist – Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen is one of SIA’s shining stars. Fresh off of our spring tour of Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop. Chris is always full of energy, jokes and smiles when he comes to our office. We are so pleased Chris is our May 2016 Feature Artist! Check out our personal interview with him below.

1.What is your favourite Shakespearean play?

My favourite Shakespearean play hands down has to be Julius Caesar. I love the development of the characters in this play, and although it is based on a true story, I feel Shakespeare really makes it a dynamic and enriched piece, through his poetry. The story takes its audience on a journey through treacherous war, and haunting images of what appears to be an Armageddon in the streets, daunting poltergeists of a man once thought to have the lifeblood of a deity, and so on. It is thrilling throughout, and the complete transformation that some characters, like Brutus and Antony, go through is extremely compelling to read, to witness, and to be a part of.

2.When did you start working with SIA?

I first started working with SIA in late October 2015. I had just finished working with Canadian Stage in their annual production of Shakespeare in High Park, and was contacted by Michael Kelly to join SIA and work through his company to make Shakespeare less intimidating, and more of an alluring and captivating work of art, for the youth.

3. Do you have an adaptation of Shakespeare that you love?

An adaptation of Shakespeare that I love would have to be The Lion King. But, a close second is She’s The Man. The Lion King comes in first because it depicts the timeless tale of Hamlet, in such a relatable and entertaining way for all members of the family, which is what Shakespeare did with his plays.

4. Do you have any dream roles you haven’t had the chance to play?

I have many dream roles I haven’t had the chance to play yet, but if I had to narrow it down to one, I would have to say Macbeth. I think that Macbeth is such an engaging character, and his story is one so astonishing that you can’t help but be compelled by it.

5.What drew you to becoming an actor in the first place?

I have always had a love for entertaining people, but it wasn’t until I got to high school when a drama teacher of mine, Robert Hamilton, convinced me that I had a gift in me that needed to be shared. He’s been a constant inspiration throughout my career.

6. What was your favourite moment working with youth?

I had a lot of great times working with youth through SIA, but my favourite moment hands down would have to be when I went to the Peel Alternative School North to do a Rap Workshop for the students. In all the time I’ve been with SIA, and through all of the workshops I’ve done, there has never been a class of students that have been so engaged and willing to participate than with the students at Peel Alternative School North. I woke up feeling a bit nervous because of how long it had been since I’d taught a Rap workshop, but I was blown away by how excited and engaged the students all were.

7. What are you currently working on?

I am excited to announce that I’ll be joining the Blyth Festival for their production of Mark Crawford’s new play, The Birds and The Bees, as the character Ben. I’m elated to be working with such awesome individuals on such engrossing new Canadian work. I haven’t ever been to the town before or away from home for so long, so I’m really looking forward to this experience.

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      Christopher Allen is a recent graduate of York University’s Acting Conservatory. Recent theatre credits: Claudius/Hamlet in Hamletmachine (York University), Rossiter/Shaw/Conti in The Ecstatic Bible (York University), The Negro Resurrectionist in Venus (York University), Cinna/Flavius in Julius Caesar (Canadian Stage), Balthasar/Courtesan in The Comedy of Errors (Canadian Stage), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in Action), Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in Action), Lee Boyd Malvo in Call me God (York University). Upcoming: Ben in The Birds and the Bees (Blyth Festival). He couldn’t be more thankful for the many opportunities he’s been granted thus far.

Special thanks; Lauren Allen, Harold Allen & Celia Aloma