Friends of SIA

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.

– – – –

      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

JOB POSTING: Summer Camp Assistants

Job Description

Shakespeare in Action, with the support of Service Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs grant, is looking to hire talented, enthusiastic staff for our 2016 Kid’s and Teen Summer Camps.

Dates: June 29th – July 29th
Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm
Salary: $2160 total


The successful candidate will:

  • Be above 19 years of age
  • Be a full-time college or university student in the previous year
  • Be returning to full-time studies in the fall
  • Be able to commit to the full term of employment
  • Have some experience working in leadership roles with youth aged 7-17
  • Have skills and training relevant to the role for which they are applying (see Roles Available below)
  • Be able to provide a Vulnerable Sector Police Reference Check

Additional assets include:

  • A passion for theatre arts and education
  • First Aid training
  • Ability to think on their feet
  • Ability to have fun while working hard

Additional Info:

Roles Available:
Assistant Director: Kid’s Camp

  • Will work with youth aged 7-12
  • Will provide some administrative assistance
  • Will work with the Kid’s Camp Director for the planning and running of rehearsals and other activities

Assistant Director: Teen Camp

  • Will work with youth aged 13-17
  • Will provide some administrative assistance
  • Will work with the Kid’s Camp Director for the planning and running of rehearsals and other activities

Stage Manager

  • Will assist with the rehearsal and performance of both the Kid’s Camp and Teen Camp shows
  • Will provide some administrative assistance

Film & Media Assistant

  • Will have skills in still photography and film
  • Will be able to work with Final Cut Pro
  • May be asked to work with Lightroom, Photoshop, Q-Lab, or Logic
  • Will provide some administrative assistance

Apply Here

SIA ‘Artist Feature’ April 2016

We’ve decided to start doing an “Artist Feature” segment on SIA’s blog once a month to highlight the actors working with SIA and the good works that they are doing for the community.

Neil Silcox is SIA’s Managing Producer. Neil has extensive training in theatre and education. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing with and Emphasis on Education from York University. Neil has worked as an actor and director for more than 10 years, working with companies like Humber River Shakespeare, Hart House Theatre, the U.C. Follies, and the Toronto Youth Theatre. Neil served as Artistic Director for the Toronto Youth Theatre from 2011-2013. Neil has worked with Sheridan College, Centennial College and York University and teaches and coaches private students.

We sat down with Neil to get an deeper insight on his passion for acting, his love for Shakespeare and what has brought him to pursue youth education.

What attracted you to wanting to work with youth in the community?

I love the energy and vitality that comes from working with young people in the theatre. All things are possible when you’re working with them, and there is an almost unlimited amount of creativity and problem solving. I’m also very keen to help foster in young people an understanding of the importance of live performance in order to foster the future creators and consumers of theatre.

What is your acting philosophy or method?

My acting philosophy is built around two quotations from the amazing Jim Henson. The first is “Simple is Good”. Although complexity and virtuosity are important there is something very powerful about simplicity in the theatre. A simple thing done clearly and cleanly has the ability to touch something deep within us. The second quotation is “Listening is the first step and the last step.” This applies just as much to performing a scene or a monologue—where one must always be listening to one’s scene partner—but it’s also very important in the creative process, where if you don’t really listen to the other people on the team the whole process can fall apart quickly.

What is your favourite Shakespearean Play?

My favourite Shakespearean play is Romeo & Juliet. I love Shakespeare’s nuanced understanding of the ups and downs that come with love, and the ways that romantic love can cause great pain alongside great joy.

What advice would you have for a youth or even an adult who wants to try and break into acting and the industry?

It’s important to train. Talent can carry you a certain amount, but having a real understanding of how the craft of acting and making theatre works is important. You don’t necessarily have to go to school for theatre, but there’s no other way to get as much experience in as short an amount of time. If you do go to school, find the one that’s right for you. Meet with students and teachers and talk about their priorities and what they believe.

Who are your favourite playwrights other than Shakespeare?

I love Tennessee Williams, Suzan-Lori Parks, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett

What Shakespearean roles have you played?
I’ve played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Macbeth, Edgar in King Lear, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Oliver in As You Like It, Antipholus of Ephesus in Comedy of Errors, Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Buckingham in Richard III.

Which was your favourite?

I really loved playing Edgar in Lear, he has amazing growth and discoveries throughout the play (and he gets to be the king in the end!)

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

I always wanted to play Romeo, but I think my ship has sailed. At 35 I’m just too old for the role.

CONTEST- Win Tickets to a Toronto Screening of Romeo and Juliet!

Time for another contest! We are giving away 3 sets of passes to a Toronto screening of The Royal Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet on Saturday, October 31, 2015, courtesy of our friends at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema! Check below for details on how to enter!


The Royal Ballet: ROMEO AND JULIET

Event details: Kenneth MacMillan’s poignant setting of Sergey Prokofiev’s classic score draws out the emotional and psychological intensity of Shakespeare’s tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers.Romeo and Juliet contains three passionate pas de deux: the lovers’ first meeting, the famous balcony scene and the devastating final tragedy. Juliet is one of the most coveted of all ballerina roles, and as MacMillan’s ballet enters its 50th year it resonates as deeply with audiences today as when it was first seen half a century ago.

Performed live at the Royal Opera House. Includes two 10-minute intermissions.

SAT, OCT 313:00 PM



To win, all you have to do is send an e-mail to, and include your name, contact information, and your favourite quote from the play!

Contest is open to all residents of Ontario, and will close at 11:59PM on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by phone or e-mail.

CONTEST- Win tickets to a Toronto screening of Antony and Cleopatra!

Great news, Shakespeare fans! Our friends from Bloor Hot Docs Cinema have given us 3 sets of passes to give away for their upcoming screening of the Shakespeare’s Globe production of Antony and Cleopatra! The screening will take place on Saturday, October 24 at 11:30AM in Toronto. See details on how to enter below!


Shakespeare on Screen: ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

 Event details: Virtue and vice, transcendent love and realpolitik combine in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s greatest exploration of the conflicting claims of sex and power, all expressed in a tragic poetry of breathtaking beauty and magnificence. Cleopatra, the alluring and fascinatingly ambiguous Queen of Egypt, has bewitched the great Mark Antony, soldier, campaigner and now one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire. When Antony quarrels with his fellow leaders and throws in his lot with Cleopatra, his infatuation threatens to split the Empire in two.

Recorded live at Shakespeare’s Globe. Includes two 10-minute intermissions.

SAT, OCT 24 – 11:30 AM



To win, all you have to do is send an e-mail to, and include your name, contact information, and your favourite quote from the play!

Contest is open to all residents of Ontario, and will close at 11:59PM on Wednesday, October 21, 2015. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by phone or e-mail.