Arts & Letters Club

Photos from The Shakespeare Challenge 2013!

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The Shakespeare Challenge brought together 10 champions from the GTA community who joined forces, raised funds, and rehearsed The Tempest with Shakespeare in Action’s Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They all stepped into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Congratulations to everyone!

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Alex Strauss

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Alex Strauss!To support Alex, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Alex Strauss!

To support Alex, click here!

 

ALEX STRAUSS – Alex Strauss was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After majoring in English at York University, he briefly worked as a screenplay editor for several small production companies, which drew him closer to his true passion for film. Feeling that the time was right, he made a full commitment to pursuing his dream of becoming an actor and is currently studying dramatic acting at Cindy Tanas Actors Studio. He has appeared in several short films, a CanStage theatrical production, and has had roles on the History Channel.

 

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
I am involved in the Shakespeare challenge because I love Shakespeare, I love The Tempest, and I found the role of Antonio very powerful and compelling. Shakespeare is the most prolific playwright of all time, and his plays and the messages they deliver are timeless. I am very adamant about youth being exposed to Shakespeare at an early age to enhance their learning through great stories, characters, ideas and themes.

Shakespeare in Action is an excellent way for young people to be acquainted with and appreciate the greatest playwright of all time (sorry Kit Marlowe, you’ll have to take second place!) and to discover his brilliant plays in order to grow as individuals. My greatest hope is that by seeing the performance youth will be inspired to try their hand at any form of art, whether it be singing, learning how to play an instrument, dancing, painting, acting, musical theatre, or writing in order to express themselves and grow as enriched, healthy, happy and fulfilled human beings.

 

Help Alex achieve his goal by donating to his Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=23299

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Jessie Behan

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Jessie Behan!To support Jessie, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Jessie Behan!

To support Jessie, click here!

 

JESSIE BEHAN – I grew up as a closet dancer, singer, and actor. I would often perform with my sisters for our parents at the family cottage but that’s it. We were an athletic family, not a performing arts family. It wasn’t until my mom took me to see a bunch of live theatre – some of my first experiences being Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Phantom of the Opera, and Beauty and the Beast – that I was able to see all those people up on stage having the time of their lives. I went on to see more theatre but this time in my community, of people I knew, and something registered in me that theatre was something that I TOO, COULD DO!  Why not?

I signed up for every drama class I could throughout all of high school and performed in the drama festival every year while attending McGill University in Montreal. I attended a 7-month acting school in Australia called The Actor’s Pulse, was a participant in a crazy YouTube Video that received 9 million hits worldwide, had numerous agents and went to countless auditions, participated in many fringe festival shows, watched hundreds of hours of television wishing I wasn’t the one-who-didn’t-get-the-job.  I thought: “there has got to be a way where I can still have performing arts in my life while having financial stability and stimulating my brain.”

Well it worked out. I decided to enter back into the financial world since I grew up with family in the business, got a degree in finance, and had experience cold calling. I got licensed to sell investment products and worked as a sales assistant at the Bank of Montreal for several Investment Advisors and was an inside wholesaler at Mackenzie Investments before landing in my current position as a Regional Sales Manager at Redwood Asset Management.  I love my company, clients, and the industry as a whole.

Since then, I’ve completed a 2 years Second City Conservatory Program where I developed amazing improv skills that help me in my daily sales meetings. I’ve recorded 17 episodes of an animation series where I play a little boy named Alex. I’ve  also participated in many fun sketch comedy charity shows and community plays. I’m currently working on writing a film and putting on a one-woman show about a crazy lady with A.D.H.D…it may be me!

 

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
Part of the reason that I took on the Shakespeare Challenge had to do with the fact that I love a good challenge and I think I do have a fear of failure when it comes to his plays. I also had a New Year’s resolution that was to take the focus off of myself and give back to the community by volunteering somewhere. This opportunity was presented to me and I jumped on it. I saw this as a way that I could volunteer my acting skills, something that I love to do, while raising money for an amazing cause at the same time.

I grew up studying Shakespeare in high school and university but never thought to audition for any of his plays. Part of that might have been out of fear since the language and characters are so complex but I think it was also because I didn’t fully appreciate or understand how brilliant his writing truly was until I got older when I saw my first play live on stage. I wish I had seen one of his shows at a young age and would love to give youth in our community that experience.

If I can do what I love while giving children the gift of Theatre…well then I think I have fulfilled my New Year’s resolution and will hopefully put a smile on a child’s face. I feel so privileged that I had the opportunity as a young girl to experience live theatre and would love to pay that forward so Shakespeare In Action is the perfect program to make that happen!

 

Help Jessie achieve her goal by donating to her Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=21990

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Cam Sedgwick

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 10 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Cam Sedgwick!To support Cam, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Cam Sedgwick!

To support Cam, click here!

 

CAM SEDGWICK – Cam Sedgwick is pleased to join Shakespeare in Action for The Shakespeare Challenge. Originally from Toronto this performance will be his first since returning from getting his degree in Montreal from Concordia University. Cam never misses an opportunity to produce Shakespeare and is excited to help bring The Tempest to life.

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
When I was young I used to attend plays at the Young People’s Theatre in downtown Toronto. It was where my passion for theatre was born and it set me on the path that I am on today. If someone can get the chance to see a play because of this fundraiser and open up that part of themselves I would love to be a part of that.

Help Cam achieve his goal by donating to his Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=23300

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Trevor Ketcheson

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 10 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Trevor Ketcheson!To support Trevor, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Trevor Ketcheson!

To support Trevor, click here!

 

TREVOR KETCHESON – I’ve been acting in community theatre since I was twelve and was fortunate enough to spend my post secondary studying theatre at Brock University. I am involved in The Shakespeare Challenge primarily because of my love of Shakespeare and acting, but once I understood the cause I became immensely for interested and committed.

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
The reason I am in such support of the Shakespeare challenge fundraiser is the target audience and the product. For years I have worked at the City of Toronto and particularly with inner-city youth, moving from different community centers and programs. I have always felt greater reward working with at-risk youth and finding niches for their interests to propel them out of their hardships. To combine this ideology with the passion of theatre could be no better union. It combines two life-long passions of mine and creates hope for youth to be attracted to the theatre. Without programs like the Shakespeare Challenge there is less chance for people like ourselves to give back to the community and promote theatre in the same breath. I am thankful for this opportunity and look forward to supporting the cause.

What’s your favourite Shakespearean character?
My favourite Shakespearean character is Lady Macbeth because of her sadistic power trip and manipulation of the events around her in order to get what she thinks she wants.

What’s your favourite treat?
One of my favourite homemade snacks is toast smeared with peanut butter and topped off with a few shakes of Franks Red Hot and a dash of Parmesan cheese! Yum!

Help Trevor achieve his goal by donating to his Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=22066

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Lindsay Baxter

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 10 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Lindsay Baxter!To support Lindsay, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Lindsay Baxter!

To support Lindsay, click here!

 

LINDSAY BAXTER – At the age of ten, Lindsay was placed in theatre classes in an attempt to combat her debilitating shyness.  After graduating from McMaster University with a Combined Honours degree in English and History and a Masters in History from York University, Lindsay suddenly changed directions and attended a conservatory program for acting at Humber College.  Memorable extracurricular roles include Second Witch in Macbeth, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Marie in L’etranger and an ignorant white person in a MuchMusic PSA for Black History Month.  Lindsay would like to dedicate this performance to her beloved AFTV classmates (who she cannot praise enough) and to offer her admiration to her brave Tempest cast mates – Lindsay knows first-hand how terrifying it is to be on stage for the first time.

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
Well one of the reasons I joined was because I love Shakespeare, and I love Shakespeare for a lot of different reasons.  First off, performing Shakespeare is a huge challenge, often like performing in another language.  You can’t just rely on the words you’re speaking to get your point across – you really have to go that extra mile to convey your meaning, both to the audience and to your fellow actors.  But once you get the hang of the language, it is some of the most beautiful, clever and poignant language in the whole world.  Where else can one sound so lovely than on a stage performing Shakespeare’s works?  400 years later and Shakespeare’s ideas, phrases and situations are still relevant.

The other reason I wanted to join was because theatre changed my life when I was ten, and it continues to change my life today.  I was painfully shy well into my teens, but local theatre classes provided me with a voice.  I learned to communicate on a meaningful level, both on stage and in general everyday life.  Theatre allowed me to learn how to express myself, and that is something that I will be forever thankful for.  Today, theatre allows me to access parts of my personality that I didn’t even know I had.  It also allows me to meet so many talented, unique and interesting individuals, people that have enriched my life in so many ways.  I feel that every adolescent should have access to the opportunities that theatre has afforded me because it really is life-altering.

What’s your favourite sweet treat?
I love gummy bears.

Help Lindsay achieve her goal by donating to her Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=22067

Shakespeare Challenge – Featured Player, Lars Classington

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 10 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.  They'll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action's ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Lars Classington!To support Lars, click here!

The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 10 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.

They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. 

All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.

Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Lars Classington!

To support Lars, click here!

 

LARS CLASSINGTON – Lars Classington – Fitting that he was born on Friday the 13th, because Lars is stranger than fiction and larger than life. A native of Orillia, Ontario, Classington is a comedian slash actor slash writer, currently residing in Toronto, Canada. Described as a “human cartoon,” Lars is the winner of the 2011 “Big League Comedy Last Laugh Competition” and the 2012 London Music Award for Most Popular Media/TV Personality. His comedic raps were featured on The Comedy Network show “Upload Yours.”

Lars entertains by combining funny faces and voices with crazy ideas. Lars is also a character actor in comedic murder mystery dinner theatre with Mystery Unlimited and performed as Aussie reptile expert “Alligator Al” in one man kids shows at Reptilia reptile zoo. Watch for Lars on a stage, a street, or an internet machine near you!

Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
Why am I involved in the Challenge? Providing at-risk youth with an opportunity to experience Shakespeare (or any of the arts for that matter) provides them with a chance to escape any difficulties they might be experiencing in their lives. Generally, artistic events are fun and exciting, and for some kids, they might be the only light in an otherwise dark tunnel. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that was able to provide me with tons of opportunity to explore the arts, music, and sports. As a result, I was able to have fun, explore my interests, make friends and stay out of trouble. Being a part of the Shakespeare Challenge gives me the chance to pay that opportunity forward to others.

Help Lars achieve his goal by donating to his Giving Page:
http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=23260