Call for submissions from Canadian directors for 2016- The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction

Our friends at the Stratford Festival are offering a unique opportunity to emerging theatre directors across Canada!

This call is for theatre directors, from emerging to mid-stage in their career. Their primary task will be assistant directing one of the plays in the Festival’s 2016 season. The Festival’s 2016 season begins in February with the final openings in August. Assistant directors are usually required for 8-16 weeks within that timeframe. Our 2016 playbill is available here.

Participants will join existing classes in text, voice, movement and other disciplines regularly held by the Festival’s Theatre Training Department as well as specialized classes exploring the text, vocal and physical skills for use in the rehearsal process of a classical play. Selected participants will be given the opportunity to choose a piece of classical text for the Directors’ Workshop Presentation slated for the fall of 2016.

Details on the workshop, and how to apply can be found here! But hurry- the deadline to apply is August 10, 2015!

Shakespeare at the Movies- The Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is being released in North America this week, and certainly needs no introduction. One of the biggest film franchises of the modern day, the Age of Ultron cast brings loads of experience performing Shakespeare’s works on screen and in the theatre. Let’s find out who has played what roles!

Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/ Iron Man)

Robert Downey Jr

Appeared in:

  • Richard III (1995) as Lord Rivers

Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/ Scarlet Witch)


Appeared in:

  • Romeo and Juliet (Classic Stage Company, 2013) as Juliet

Paul Bettany (Jarvis/ Vision)


Appeared in:

  • Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1995) as Paris
  • Julius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1995) as Decius Brutus/Strato
  • Richard III (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1995) as Richmond

Idris Elba (Heimdall)


Appeared in:

  • Trolius and Cressida (American Place Theater, 2001) as Achilles

Stellan Skarsgard (Erik Selvig)


Appeared in:

  • Romeo and Juliet (2013) as Prince of Verona
  • Den tragiska historien om Hamlet – Prins av Danmark (TV Movie, 1985) as Hamlet

Andy Serkis (Ulysses Klaue)


Appeared in:

  • Othello (Royal Exchange Theatre, 2002) as Iago
  • King Lear (Royal Court Theatre, 1993) as The Fool
  • Macbeth (Royal Exchange Theatre, 1988) as Porter/Sargeant
  • The WInter’s Tale (The Dukes in Lancaster, 1986) as Florizel
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Dukes in Lancaster, 1986) as Lysander
  • Henry IV Part 1 (Nuffield Studio, Southampton, 1982) as Poins

Julie Delpy (Madame B)


Appeared in:

  • King Lear (1987) as Virginia

Henry Goodman (Dr. List)


Appeared in:

  • Two Gentlemen of Verona (Royal National Theatre, 1999)
  • The Merchant of Venice (Royal National Theatre, 1999)
  • Richard II (Royal National Theatre, 1995)
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor (Royal National Theatre, 1995)
  • Pericles (Royal National Theatre, 1994)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal National Theatre, 1992)
  • Hamlet (Royal National Theatre, 1990)
  • Richard III (Royal National Theatre, 1990)
  • Antony and Cleopatra (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • Cymbeline (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Tempest (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The WInter’s Tale (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1983)

Joss Whedon (Director)



  • Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

Which of these roles is your favourite? Did I miss someone? Leave a comment and let us know!

Shakespeare Everywhere- Shakespeare in Bollywood

The stories, themes, and characters in Shakespeare’s plays are not limited to only Western audiences. His works are celebrated and adapted all over the world (and have been translated into over 80 different languages!)
Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has adapted and directed a trilogy of films based on Shakespeare’s plays. Maqbool (2003) is based on Macbeth, Omkara (2006) is based on Othello, and Haider (released later this year) is based on Hamlet. These films have been incredibly popular with audiences and have breathed new life into stories we have enjoyed for so many years.
Like many of us, Bhardwaj struggled with breaking through the Elizabethan language barrier, not allowing him to fully appreciate the Bard’s work. He explained this in an interview with The Times of India back in 2012:

“During my early days, Shakespeare was a scary thing because his language scared me and if you watch my movies that have been adapted from his works, you will see that I have taken a lot of creative liberty in making those movies.” But, he says, he was stupid. “When I finally started understanding his plays, I bought all his plays and read them in a year,” he said, adding, “Now I realize, I can live my life based on Shakespeare’s works, spend my life reading him,” said Vishal.

Check out the trailers for the films in the trilogy below!

Maqbool, 2003

Omkara, 2006

Haider, 2014

An Actor’s Perspective- Set Design and Building

As a performer, I experience the magic of theatre in a multitude of ways, most of which is made possible because of the work that goes on behind the scenes.
One of my favorite moments of walking into a theatre for a show is seeing the space transformed by the set. People devote hours of their time to design, build and paint each piece to create the desired environment. It’s quite a process, too!

First, the director takes what’s written on the page and imagines the locations as described in the script. The director then adapts these images to be played practically on a stage, and relays their vision to the set designer. The set designer then designs the set, keeping in mind the limitations of the theatre space, respecting the director’s artistic vision and blocking choices, yet allowing their creative vision to also be present.
Some set designers make mini sets to show the director what they’ve created, others make drawings, similar to blueprints, to show the director how the pieces work. Once the director and set designer are satisfied with the design, it’s time to build, paint and decorate!

Building a set occurs in stages for practical reasons of getting it from the shop to the theatre. The pieces of the set will be cut, painted and decorated as much as is possible, and won’t get to the theatre until move-in day! Move-in day is usually the weekend before a show opens. It is on this day that all the pieces will be put together to make up the entire set.

I’m sure there is more to the process than I have described here, but this is how I understand the basics of a set being created from script to stage. I have a lot of respect for all the people involved in the making of sets, because their hard work lets me do what I love! For that, I am eternally grateful.

Meet the SIA Team: Michael Kelly, Fearless Leader

It seems only appropriate that our first introduction should be to the man who came up with this whole thing! So, without further ado, this is Mr. Michael Kelly:

Michael Kelly, Fearless Leader, about to tell me not to take his picture

Michael is an actor, director, producer, teacher, and arts educator who has garnered critical and popular acclaim for his innovative work with young audiences. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Shakespeare In Action, and has attracted local, national and international media attention with features on TVO’s Imprint, Canada AM, W-5, and C.B.C.’s As It Happens.

His credits include directing many contemporary and Shakespearean plays as well as teaching master classes for The Stratford Festival, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

Michael is a part-time member of the Theatre Faculty at York University. He has also taught acting at George Brown College, Randolph Academy for the Arts, and the National Youth Drama School in New Zealand. He has abridged a series of Shakespeare’s plays for young audiences aged 7-12, collectively titled “Shakespeare for Kids.”

Michael has devised all of Shakespeare in Action’s artistic and educational work, and continues to expand and evolve our artistic vision.