high school

6 Questions With the Cast of Hamlet! -Kaleb Alexander Edition

Here is the last segment of our 6 Questions Series! Today, we interview Kaleb Alexander, our very own Hamlet!
Be sure to check out our Hamlet page to learn about this fabulous new production!

Photo Friday- A Little Bit of Drama Outside

Hello dear Shakespeare fans!

Today, I am going to share some photos with you that I took at the Central Commerce Collegiate End of Year BBQ! We dined on hot dogs and cupcakes, had 90’s flashbacks listening to the Macarena (if you don’t know what that is, ask your parents!) and had the pleasure of watching and listening to some very talented students perform for us!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have a great weekend!

National Shakespeare Youth Festival Update – E.L. Crossley

By: Kelly Nori and Axel Kinnear (designing a set and costumes for Hamlet)

So far, the Shakespeare Festival project has been going very well.  Axel and I are working hard together and using our time effectively.  Recently, we sat down and tried to realistically set goals for finish our project.  We decided that by Monday, April 18 we wanted to have three character drawings done, and we were able to accomplish that goal.  By Friday, April 22 we want to have both of our set drawings done, and by Tuesday, April 26, we want to have everything complete, so that we can focus on our interview during class. We have spent a lot of time considering characters, theme, logistics, etc.; so we are hoping that our project turns out to be very strong.  This week in class we are focusing on the drawing of the set. Today in class we thought up different ideas about our set, and then made some decisions. It has difficult to maintain levels and depth within the set, while also considering the small details of props; in the end, we came up with some unique ideas that were inspired by the line “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”  I think that we are on track to finish, and we are continuing to work well with each other. Our goals are set, and now we must complete them!

National Shakespeare Youth Festival Update – E.L. Crossley

By: Kelly Nori and Axel Kinnear (designing a set and costumes for Hamlet)

So far our Shakespeare Festival Project has been going very well.  At the beginning of the planning process, Axel and I decided that I would do most of the research and organization projects, while Axel would focus more on drawing. During class time, Axel and I have chosen the characters that we want to design costumes for, and discussed their traits and physical appearance; finally, we came up with certain colours and styles we wanted them to wear.

We also discussed the set, and how to achieve levels and depth, but still keeping it cohesive with the looks of our clothing. I have done some research outside of school about the laws related to clothing in the Elizabethan period, and architecture during that time as well. This research has helped Axel and I get much work done during class, because we know the certain rules that must be followed, and we can design based on ‘what is allowed.’

Axel will do some drawings outside of school in the next few days, so that we are sure to keep the project moving at a steady pace. We plan to have the project completed by at least April 21, so that we can edit anything that we are not happy with and prepare ourselves for the interview on the actual day of the Shakespeare festival.

Overall, we have had a great start to the project and we enjoy working on it. It’s fun to consider characters in a new way and think about what they may wear based on who they are as a person. This project has also allowed us to use our creative minds collaboratively to come up with some good ideas related to Hamlet. I am excited to see some of the sketches being formed, and eventually excited to see the stage layout (considering I am much more skilled with stage management). I think that Axel is enjoying the project as well and looks forward to using his knowledge of art to create extraordinary costume designs that will make the characters come to life. We are working well as a team, and seem to get most of our work done outside of class; overall we are on track for the festival on April 27.

National Shakespeare Youth Festival- Unionville High School’s Macbeth

For today’s video clip we are pleased to present this impressive interpretation of Lady Macbeth. Starring Ellen Reesor of Unionville HS, this video is all about Lady M. The play may have her husband’s name, but we all know that she runs the show. We love the mix of black and white and colour, the beautiful settings and, of course, Ellen’s performance!

For more information on this year’s festival, please see our website. Registration is now open for 2011!

By: Kathleen

All About… the Spotlight! Central Commerce Collegiate

Shakespeare in Action is excited to announce a brand-new program for the students of Central Commerce Collegiate. The Spotlight is a lunchtime drop-in program on Fridays dedicated to discussion and artistic expression.

Students will be encouraged to express themselves to other students at the school in positive, artistic ways. Singers, dancers, actors and more – The Spotlight welcomes all creative efforts! We hope that this program will be inclusive and promote acceptance and self-expression at CCC. All student groups at CCC are welcome to participate.

The SIA team holds informal auditions everyday after school (3:15-4:00 in Room 18). On Friday, November 12 The Spotlight launches with a get-to-know-you session at lunchtime in the theatre, and next Friday the creativity truly begins! We hope to see everyone there, and look forward to seeing how imaginative CCC students can be!

The Spotlight


The Theatre @ lunch on Fridays


Auditions every day between 3:15 and 4pm, Room 18

A brief (theatre) history lesson: Central Commerce Collegiate

By: John Wojewoda and Brittney Filek-Gibson

Central Commerce Collegiate is at 570 Shaw, just north of College, located in the Palmerston-Little Italy neighborhood of downtown Toronto. The school opened its doors to local students in 1916 as Central High School, though commercial education in Toronto dates back to 1892.  At the beginning of this, CCC’s 93rd school year, Shakespeare in Action found a permanent home in Room 18, thanks to the generosity of the TDSB.  Central Commerce Collegiate (as it came to be known in 1991) has many interesting features, but one of its best is the beautiful old theatre right in the middle of the building.  Currently undergoing a bit of a facelift, it has many notable features, like a faux sky light reminiscent of  to an opera house or some European theatre.

So Central Commerce Collegiate, affectionately know as CCC, was originally a school whose focus was business and commerce, but curiously, it has a strong historical connection to Canadian theatre.  In 1928, Herman Voaden was appointed head of the English department at CCC, which was then known as The Central High School of Commerce. Who is Herman Voaden? Well, he is considered by Canadian art historians to be the most significant Canadian Playwright before World War II. Basically, he’s the father of the modern Canadian play.   Still influential, though largely unknown, there is even The Herman Voaden National Play Wrighting Competition at Queens University has been running since 1997.  Voaden was also influential as a zealous arts lobbyist and headed the Canadian Arts Council (1945-48), the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1966-68) and the Canadian Guild of Crafts (1968-70).  Thanks for paving the way, Mr. Voaden!

But it doesn’t end there.  One of Herman Voaden’s students was also an important (and largely unknown) figure in Canadian theatre history.  Toby Ryan (nee Gordon) attended CCC in the early 1920s where Herman Voaden was her English teacher.  Born into a working class family of avid theatre-goers, Toby Ryan was already well-versed in the world of theatre by the time she made it to CCC, but it was Voaden who instilled in her a love of the written word and especially of Shakespeare.  Although she did not go on to become a famous Shakespearean actress or anything of the sort, she helped to found and promote socially-minded, progressive theatre at its inception in this country.

Toby was a member of an organization known as the Progressive Arts Club.  The Toronto branch spawned the Worker’s Theatre, whose most controversial performance, Eight Men Speak, was shut down by government censorship, and the Theatre of Action, who founded a summer school and were active participants in changing the face of professional theatre.  Their work was largely socialist, pro-union, progressive, political, socially conscious, and darn fine theatre.  They played in theatres, but also in union halls, labour temples, and even managed a tour of Southern Ontario.  Their plays often featured workers in leading roles; they sought to portray the times as they actually were, not in theatrical ideals.  They were also responsible for the Toronto premiere of the most influential play of the 1930s, Clifford Odets’s Waiting For Lefty.

To bring us back full circle, Toby’s participation in Toronto’s Progressive Arts Club was actually part of a larger movement across the country (and abroad).  These clubs were formed all over the country and produced plays that engaged with the politics and people of the time.  In Vancouver, the PAC won the Dominion Drama Festival (of which Herman Voaden was a founding member) with their production of Waiting For Lefty. Winnipeg was home to another branch.  Montreal was also quite active and was one of few English language theatre groups in the city at the time.  In fact, Odets himself visited the Montreal group and was so impressed that he sent them a donation of $50 (big bucks in the 1930s).  This group also lasted much longer than the others, well into the 1950s, and, when they eventually disbanded, the last $25 in their bank account went to fund a new theatre initiative in Stratford, Ontario, now well known for its connection to the Bard.

All of this, plus the fact that CCC was featured in the X-Men movie, makes it an excellent home for our company.  And we have big plans to contribute positively to the continuation of this incredible history!

For more information about CCC:
Official TDSB Central Commerce Collegiate website

For more information about Herman Voaden:
Biographical info
University of New Brunswick website (complete works and essays)