Shakespearean influences!

First Day of Camp in High Park

New this summer:  Shakespeare in Action has partnered with Canadian Stage and Shakespeare in High Park.  Our annual Shakespeare for Kids Summer camp will culminate in final performances on the High Park Community Stage.


Today was the first day in High Park! The campers got a chance to see the Shakespeare in High Park stage and check out the space we will be performing on. We rehearsed scenes in the space, picnicked for lunch, and the campers started creating a trailer for the show.


Joining us this week in the park is Gillian Murphy, the Youth and Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Stage. Today Gillian interviewed two actors at camp, Joel and Tanya, about the experience of being in the park, Shakespearen language, and their thoughts on their characters.


Gillian: So, this is your second week of camp! What were you up to last week?


Tanya: We got our characters last week, we played a lot of games, and went outside.


G: What’s different about being in the park versus the school?


Joel: Well the bathrooms are closer. It’s outside, and yeah that’s pretty much it.


G: Have you done Shakespeare in Action camp before?


J: No.


T: No, but I’ve been [to Shakespeare in High Park]. Last year I saw Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well


G: Did you know about Shakespeare before the camp?


J: Yah, my mom was really into it when I was like four, so then I grew into it. I went to a Shakespeare Camp at the library.


G: Cool! Have you acted in a Shakespeare play before?


J: No.


T: Ya. We did Romeo and Juliet at my school.


G: And, what are you playing in this show?


T: Sebastian, in the Tempest.


G: That’s awesome. What does Sebastian try to accomplish in the play?


T: To kill Alonso and Gonzalo because he wants to be king of Naples.


And what part do you play Joel?


J: The King of Naples, Alonso.


G: And what does Alonso want to accomplish in the play?


J: To find his lost son, Ferdinand.


G: So far, is Shakespeare different from any other acting you’ve done?


T: Yes, the words are different. It’s harder to understand because you don’t know what the words are.


G: How do you go about understanding them better?


T: We have a Shakespeare dictionary so we just search it up and find out what the word is. I think the Master’s first scene we searched up a word for her and that very sentence was in the dictionary.


G: What about you Joel, is the language the hardest part?


J: Not really. I sort of understand it. Compared to normal acting it’s really different.


G: Is it a fun different?


J: It’s a nice challenge.


G: If I was going to put this on the blog what would you want people to know about your first day in the park?


T: It is fun and very interesting. We finally saw the stage, we actually get fresh air, and our whole class doesn’t have to go to the washroom together.


J: It’s very nice.


T: They should come to the camp!


J: And every single show!


G: And pay lots of money?


J: Yah.


Come Catch our Groundlings (age 7 – 10) perform The Tempest on the High Park Community Stage on Friday July 14th at 2:30PM!    If interested, RSVP to

High Park Community Stage is located on the Shakespeare in High Park premises, beside the High Park Amphitheatre.

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.

“Shakespeare’s People”

“Front Row asks actors, directors and writers to give their personal take on a favourite Shakespeare character, to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.”

BBCRadio4 has a wonderful collection of audio snippets of famous actors describing their experiences of playing their favourite Shakespeare character. The actors describe how they come to engage, connect and portray with their character. It includes audio extracts of the scenes that they are describing.

400 years after his death, Shakespeare is still a delight for actors to continue playing, discovering and reinventing.  Who is your favourite character? Who would you love to play on stage? Comment and let us know!

If you would like deeper insight into these famous actors portrayals of Shakespeare’s characters take a listen after the jump!

BBCRadio 4 Front Row “Shakespeare’s People”




Can Shakespeare be any more fun, you say? Just add some puppets!

By Olesya Komarnytska


Here are some eye-catching past productions, in a variety of media, which brought the Bard’s vision alive with the help of some talented craftsmanship.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, DC recently mounted this gorgeous Ethan McSweeny production of The Tempest as part of its 2015/16 season. On the surreal set of white sand and wreckage that is Prospero’s island, the actors share the stage with colossal puppets designed by James Ortiz.




The stop motion master Jiří Trnka’s last feature film was the 1959 Sen noci svatojánské (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In this film, he created expressive stop motion characters within highly detailed landscapes and scenarios that were further brought to life through the classical compositions of Vaclav Trojan. The film was punctuated by some quite comedic moments that couldn’t have been achieved through anything other than stop motion.

Sen noci svatojánské was recently shown as part of TIFF’s Magic Motion: The Art of Stop Motion Animation retrospective.




And of course, this short review wouldn’t be complete without a tip of the hat to The Muppets. I feel the Swedish Chef exhibits a wonderful mastery of the iambic pentameter!







On the 12th Day of #Shakespeare, my true love gave to me:

On the 12th Day of Shakespeare, my true love gave to me: 


12 tragic stories!


11 ghosts appearing!


10 Lears a weeping!


9 tempests raging!


8 tu, Brute?


7 Mackers’ plotting!


6 Mechanicals rehearsing!


5 poisoniiiiiiiiiiiiiings!


4 Royal Henrys!


3 witches brewing!


2 yellow stockings!


And a Feste in a box tree!




Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holidays! We will see you in 2016!

REVIEW: Drunk Shakespeare in NYC

By: Alyssa de Hoop


I had no idea what to expect when I first entered the small, unique Drunk Shakespeare theatre, located in The Lounge on the 4th Floor of 300 W 43rd St., New York. All I knew was that both the critic and audience reviews were stellar. Following the performance I attended on Thursday, November 19th, I had to agree.

Drunk Shakespeare is a high-energy, hilarious, interactive, crude and drunken theatrical performance that immerses you from the second you step foot into The Lounge to the moment you leave. All you need to bring is a rough understanding of Shakespeare’s popular plays, a willingness to be absorbed into the action, a valid ID to show you are 21 years of age or older, a credit card to start a tab at the bar (a must so you don’t miss out on the fun while in need of snacks or more drinks) and possibly a cell phone to send videos or snap chats to soon-to-be jealous friends (as cell phones and social media sharing during the performance is highly encouraged).

As if you’re entering into the secret Drunk Shakespeare Society, you need no ticket and only say your name at the front door. To immediately set the tone, you enter into a small, library-like room and are greeted promptly with a complimentary shot of alcohol. Once the performance starts, the cast of five begin by announcing the play to be performed that night (which was Macbeth the night I attended) and give a short overview of the plot to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

Throughout the play, the five actors utilize stellar acting abilities, improv skills and high spirits necessary to keep the audience engaged and laughing the entire performance through. For the performance on November 19th, the actors included small skits in between scenes of “icing” fellow actors (providing them with a Smirnoff Ice cooler which they must chug immediately), making Kings-cup-like rules or dares to both the audience and performers, sitting on audience members laps, utilizing the audience cellphone lamps to set the tone of Lady Macbeth’s “Out, damned spot” monologue, and even calling an audience members significant others cell phone and leaving a probably very confusing message (to her) on her voicemail. Anything goes and I can imagine that each night is different from the next for Drunk Shakespeare.


I would suggest Drunk Shakespeare to anyone visiting New York looking for a night of laughter, drinks and over-the-top theatrical fun. As you never know what play to expect each night or how they will even execute the performance, I plan on attending each time I visit New York as I look forward to seeing new plays, new roles and new antics from the amazing Drunk Shakespeare cast.

Click here for Drunk Shakespeare tickets and information.


Let’s Have a Shakespeare Halloween Party!

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays here at Shakespeare in Action. Witches, ghosts, magic, and dress up are all a huge part of the holiday. Many of the things that make Halloween great are also a huge part of Shakespeare’s works. In celebration of Halloween today, we are going to throw a Shakespeare themed Halloween party! Let’s go through our list of essentials…


For a Shakespeare themed Halloween party, it is mandatory that you come dressed as one of the many characters that Shakespeare created or wrote about in his plays. Here are some suggestions for couples/ duos, groups, and individuals to dress up as!

Couples/ Duos

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth

Lady Macbeth and Macbeth



The Weird Sisters


Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Maria





The Ghost of King Hamlet


Julius Caesar


Shakespeare’s plays offer us a lot of room to work with when trying to come up with spooky decorations. Take inspiration from plays like Macbeth to create a scary environment for your guests. make sure you have a cauldron for the witches to brew their potions, lots of dry ice to add fog, and strobe lights to create lightning! Oh, and don’t forget to carve a jack-o-lantern!


A Bard-o-lantern for Halloween!


It is not hard to find references to food in Shakespeare’s plays. Characters often meet at meals and parties, so lots of great food and drinks are mentioned! Here are some inspiring quotes to help you plan your menu:

“Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used.”

Eight wild boars roasted whole at breakfast, but twelve persons there.
-Antony and Cleopatra

My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn I saw good strawberries in your garden there; I do beseech you send for some of them.
-Richard III

Finish the menu off with a great Shakespeare cake for dessert!



Finally, you will want to entertain your guests with some music inspired by Shakespeare! Here are some Shakespeare inspired tunes to help get your guests on the dance floor!

Now that we have everything we need, let’s party! Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!