TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club – Winter Registration Opens December 1st!


“…my library / Was dukedom large enough…”
– Prospero, The Tempest, 1.2 –

The TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club is a FREE readers’ theatre program for Bards-to-be, ages 7-12!

Join Shakespeare in Action for storytelling adventures!  Explore worlds of magic, ghosts, silly mix-ups, and swordplay in some of the greatest stories ever told!

Jump into plays like Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tempest, Comedy of Errors, and Henry IV.

Play drama games, read aloud from one to three scripts, build confidence, get a head start on high school, and make friends with other Shakespeare fans!

The TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club is led by professional actors and educators. Register in person at your chosen participating Toronto Public Library branch from the list below:

SATURDAYS, January 30 – March 5, 2016
Registration Opens December 1, 2015

Morning  (10AM – 12PM)

Afternoon  (2PM – 4PM)

Help us spread the word by sharing this post through your social media outlets!

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TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club – Extend your young Bard’s learning with these click-and-print resources!

...and act a little out.

Are your young Bards participating in the Fall session of the TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club?  Or have they participated in the past?

If so, we have some free click-and-print activities for them to try at home and extend their learning!

Click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the green “Download Now” button.

Registration for the Winter session opens December 1st!  For more information click here.

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Great News! Extended Early Bard Savings for the 2015/16 Season!

As an extra special Halloween treat, Shakespeare in Action will be extending the Early Bard discount on bookings of our upcoming tours Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop and Suddenly Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop- November 23- December 4, 2015 and April 18- May 6, 2016

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop is a vibrant, interactive presentation that demonstrates how modern hip-hop shares many similarities with the themeslanguage and rhythm used by Shakespeare. Both are full of poetry, word play and lyricism, and both deal with what it is to be human.

The presentation features three professional actors, thumb-nail sketches of Shakespeare’s life and times, and key scenes & speeches from Shakespeare’s most popularly studied plays – including MacbethRomeo & Juliet and Hamlet.

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop brings alive the parallels between the world of the plays and their own contemporary experience. It’s the perfect complement to your in-class teaching of a specific play, in the beginning, in the middle or at the end.

Suddenly Shakespeare- April 4-15, 2016

This Spring, Shakespeare in Action brings Kim Selody’s sparking production of Suddenly Shakespeare to your school.

This hour long performance brings four of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays –Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Macbeth and Twelfth Night – to life for children ages five to seventy-five. Featuring music, dance and physical comedy, the performance is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for young audiences.

Shakespeare in Action’s Artistic Director, Michael Kelly, describes the show as “a feast of magic, laughter, music and spectacle.” He says, “Suddenly Shakespeare will knock your kids’ socks off! Shakespeare’s stories are so magical, and the show allows kids, no matter what their age, to really participate with the material in a fun and engaging way.”

*Book either of these shows before October 31, 2015, and SAVE $50!

For more information, or to book, please call (416) 703-4881, or e-mail!

TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club – Fall Registration Opens October 1st!


“…my library / Was dukedom large enough…”
– Prospero, The Tempest, 1.2 –

The TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club is a FREE readers’ theatre program for Bards-to-be, ages 7-12!

Join Shakespeare in Action for storytelling adventures!  Explore worlds of magic, ghosts, silly mix-ups, and swordplay in some of the greatest stories ever told!

Jump into plays like Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tempest, Comedy of Errors, and Henry IV.

Play drama games, read aloud from one to three scripts, build confidence, get a head start on high school, and make friends with other Shakespeare fans!

The TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club is led by professional actors and educators. Register in person at your chosen participating Toronto Public Library branch from the list below:

SATURDAYS, November 7 – December 12, 2015
Registration Opens October 1, 2015

Morning  (10AM – 12PM)

Afternoon  (2PM – 4PM)

Help us spread the word by sharing this post through your social media outlets!

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CONTEST- Win Tickets to “Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen: Macbeth” in Toronto!

Back by popular demand, our friends at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema are screening Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen: Macbeth for one day only!


We are giving away a pair of tickets to the Toronto screening on March 28, 2015 at 11:30AM! To enter, all you have to do is send an e-mail to with your name and contact information, and tell us who your favorite Macbeth character is!

Contest closes at 11:59PM on March 26, so be sure to enter now!

Top 5 “Romantic” (Meaning Crazy) Moments from William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare has been lauded with creating the most beautiful romantic moments of all time. Yet, as much as William loves marriage and romance, it seems most of his depictions of romance are also his depictions of total insanity. Here for this Valentine’s Day, here are Shakespeare’s most “romantic” moments; and by ‘romantic’, I mean delusional and very twisted.

5) Twelfth Night, Malvolio Dresses Crazy For Love (Act 3, Scene 4)
While Shakespeare may have fooled us into thinking it is the romance between Viola and Cesario that is the height of the play, it is clearly Malvolio who shows us the proper levels of passion for Valentine’s Day. When Maria sends him a letter pretending to be Olivia, Malvolio will do anything to impress her, including reading strange quotations from said letter and humiliating himself with a ridiculous outfit, crossed garters and yellow stockings. Love literally makes you crazy, and Malvolio is proof.

4) Macbeth, Lady MacBeth Councils her Husband Post-Murder (Act 2, Scene 2)

When you’ve got some stresses going on there’s no one better to help calm you down than your one and only. One of the possibly biggest stresses could come from your plan to murder the King in order to take over the throne, and thank god Macbeth has Lady Macbeth to help calm him down after this task. Essentially, Lady Macbeth just points out all the things he did wrong, and how she would’ve done this a lot better (and I don’t doubt that), but at the end, when he is feeling that guilt as he looks at his bloody hands, Lady Macbeth cleans them off for him. That’s probably the sweetest moment between the two… all in the middle of an insane murder plot.

3) Hamlet, Hamlet Calls Ophelia Many Things (Act 3, Scene 1)

Hamlet in general just seems like such a charmer; there’s nothing like existentialism to make a man seem attractive. Even more attractive is when, having done absolutely nothing wrong, you get called awful names. I think this is called “playing hard to get”. Ophelia runs into Hamlet and is not just insulted by Hamlet, but is insulted among all womankind. Not cool, Hamlet. And when Ophelia ends up throwing herself in a river, Hamlet acts all sad and that he loved her all along? Stop playing those games, Hamlet. To be or not to be a jerk, that is the question.

2) Othello, Othello and Desdemona’s Last Moment Together (Act 5, Scene 2)

Nothing like death to bring loved ones together, especially in Shakespeare. Does it count if death is being brought on by your loved one? By Shakespeare’s standards, essentially it’s the best you can do! And in the most romantic locations of all, one’s own marriage bed. Othello kisses his wife before attempting to smother her, and this death scene is ridden with romantic newlywed imagery. Thanks Shakespeare, that’s not creepy at all.

1) Romeo and Juliet, Balcony Scene (Act 2, Scene 1)
Well, what did you expect would be #1? This scene is the most talked about famous romance scene in Shakespeare, and it is pretty romantic to have your secret lover come to you in the middle of the night to profess his love to you… right? Some would say that’s trespassing, but we love that kind of stuff. Romeo and Juliet, however, are probably the most unstable of all of Shakespeare’s couples. First of all, they are 14, and probably going through many hormonal changes that would probably affect their decision making. Only knowing each other three days in the total time of the play, they end up dying for each other pretty much by accident. They literally could’ve waited an hour to see if the other were really dead and then made a rational decision on what to do next, but no, impromptu sacrifice is what Shakespeare encourages. Thanks Shakespeare for presenting the ultimate romance as ultimate insanity.

Don’t follow suit on your Valentine’s Day everyone.

By Yamini Coen

Shakespeare Elections 2014

On October 27, 2014, voters from across Ontario will head to the polls to elect Mayors, Councillors, and Trustees. We have decided to have our own Shakespeare-themed election! Four candidates from Shakespeare’s plays are vying for your vote in the great Shakespeare election! Here are the profiles of the candidates:


Name: Cleopatra

Relevant experience: Ruled as the Queen of Egypt

Thoughts on transparency:

Cleopatra certainly has a history of hiding the truth, if only to protect her own interests and assets.

This is the brief of money, plate, and jewels I am possessed of. ’Tis exactly valued, Not petty things admitted. Where’s Seleucus?
SELEUCUS Here, madam.
CLEOPATRA This is my treasurer. Let him speak, my lord, Upon his peril, that I have reserved To myself nothing.Speak the truth, Seleucus.
SELEUCUS Madam, I had rather seal my lips Than to my peril speak that which is not.
CLEOPATRA What have I kept back?
SELEUCUS Enough to purchase what you have made known.
CAESAR Nay, blush not, Cleopatra. I approve Your wisdom in the deed.

Thoughts on the environment:

Cleopatra really only loves the earth as long as Antony is in it.

Noblest of men, woo’t die? Hast thou no care of me? Shall I abide In this dull world, which in thy absence is No better than a sty? O see, my women, The crown o’ th’ earth doth melt. My lord!

Thoughts on income and wealth: Cleopatra is obviously wealthy, but she seems to be generous with all of her riches.

(to SCARUS ) I’ll give thee, friend, An armor all of gold. It was a king’s.

CLEOPATRA (giving money) There’s gold for thee. Thou must not take my former sharpness ill. I will employ thee back again; I find thee Most fit for business. Go make thee ready; Our letters are prepared.

Why it might not work: Death due to a snake bite


Name: Henry IV

Relevant experience: Ruled as King of England

Thoughts on transparency: Everyone around King Henry IV was deceiving and secretly plotting against each other, and the King himself did not rise to the throne under the most noble circumstances, so he may be willing to call someone out on their deception, but he still has his own secrets.

KING You have deceived our trust And made us doff our easy robes of peace To crush our old limbs in ungentle steel. This is not well, my lord; this is not well.

Thoughts on the environment:
King Henry IV was very busy defending his kingdom, but he did manage to make note of the damage caused to the field in England by the battles that were happening.

KING No more the thirsty entrance of this soil Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood. Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields, Nor bruise her flow’rets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces.

Thoughts on income and wealth: As rich as the King is, he knows that if he is not well, he cannot enjoy the good things that happen to him, and compares it to wealthy people going to a feast with no appetite.

KING She either gives a stomach and no food–Such are the poor, in health—or else a feast And takes away the stomach—such are the rich, That have abundance and enjoy it not.

Why it might not work: Death due to illness


Name: Julius Caesar

Relevant experience: Ruled as Dictator of Rome

Thoughts on transparency: Though Caesar may need to be secretive in his work on the battlefield, he has no problem being honest with his colleagues when he decides to take the day off work.

DECIUS Caesar, all hail! Good morrow, worthy Caesar.
I come to fetch you to the senate house.

CAESAR And you are come in very happy time
To bear my greeting to the senators
And tell them that I will not come today.
“Cannot” is false, and that I dare not, falser.
I will not come today. Tell them so, Decius.

CALPHURNIA Say he is sick.

CAESAR Shall Caesar send a lie?
Have I in conquest stretched mine arm so far
To be afraid to tell graybeards the truth?

Thoughts on the environment: When Antony read Caesar’s will after his death, it was revealed that Caesar (or possibly Antony) left his private gardens and orchards to the people, so Caesar did seem to be a fan of having and maintaining green space!

ANTONY Also, he’s left you all his walkways—in his private gardens and newly planted orchards—on this side of the Tiber River. He’s left them to you and to your heirs forever—public pleasures in which you will be able to stroll and relax. Here was a Caesar! When will there be another like him?

Thoughts on income and wealth: Caesar was born into a noble family, but became an incredibly wealthy man during his time in the army. During his rise to power, Caesar brought many beneficial economic reforms to Rome, which Antony was quick to point out after his death.

ANTONY He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.

Why it might not work: Death due to stabbing


Name: Macbeth

Relevant experience: Ruled as King of Scotland

Thoughts on transparency:
Macbeth found himself in the middle of a murder plot with his wife, and obviously no one could know about it, or it would ruin his chances of becoming King.

LADY MACBETH Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there. Go carry them and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

Thoughts on the environment:
During a confrontation with the Weird Sisters, Macbeth makes it clear that he has no problem with them destroying the world, as long as they gave him the answers he wanted.

MACBETH I conjure you by that which you profess–
Howe’er you come to know it—answer me.
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down,
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure
Of nature’s germens tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.

Thoughts on income and wealth:
Macbeth was originally not thirsty for wealth, but certain outside influences caused changes in him that had negative consequences.

LADY MACBETH Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would, ”
Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?

Why it might not work: Death due to Macduff

Now that we have the basic profiles for all of the candidates, it’s time to cast your vote!

Thanks for voting!

Now if you are old enough, make sure to head over to a real polling station and cast your vote today!

Where do you think these candidates would stand on transit issues? Leave a comment and let us know!

Shakespeare Everywhere- Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential filmmakers in not only his home country of Japan, but the entire world. With a career that spanned nearly 60 years, Kurosawa received accolades from around the globe, including a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award!


Akira Kurosawa, pictured with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, after he accepts his Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1990.

Known for being a completely hands-on director, Kurosawa was involved in the writing, directing, and editing of all of his films. Shakespeare was a continued source of inspiration for him, as he released three films between 1957 and 1985 that were inspired by the Bard’s works.

Throne of Blood (1957) was inspired by Macbeth.

The Bad Sleep Well
(1960) was inspired by Hamlet.

Ran (1985) was inspired by King Lear.

Kurosawa managed to create fresh and original adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, while still staying true to the original themes and stories of the plays he drew inspiration from. Do you agree? Why or why not? Leave us a comment!

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

Shakespeare and The Simpsons

The Simpsons is satire of contemporary culture, therefore pop culture references are a huge part of the show. Shakespeare references are used on The Simpsons a lot (no wonder OJ Villacorta called The Simpsons Shakespeare remixes “Shakespeare for a younger generation”!) The Simpsons has continuously done Shakespeare remixes and includes multiple subtle references to Shakespeare’s plays. Below is a list of some Shakespeare references on The Simpsons.

1. The Episode Titles
Some of The Simpsons episode titles have names that reference Shakespeare’s plays, but aren’t the same storyline. Here are two episode titles I found that are clever spins on the titles of Shakespeare’s plays: Much Apu About Nothing (a take on Much Ado About Nothing) and Midsummer Nice Dream (a take on Midsummer Night’s Dream).

2. The “Do The Bard Man” segment from “Tales From The Public Domain”: The Simpsons version of Hamlet
This is considered to be one of the most well known and least subtle references to a Shakespeare play, because it’s a Simpsons adaptation of Hamlet, where the Simpsons characters play Hamlet characters. Do The Bard Man was what introduced me to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and I consider it to be the most effective reference to Shakespeare that the Simpsons has ever done, because it’s the perfect combination of Simpsons style humor, direct quotations from the original play, and Hamlet satire. The key difference between the Simpsons adaptation of Hamlet and the original play is the deaths. Everyone still dies in the end but the causes of death are different than the original play for the sake of making the plot significantly more comedic.

3. The Simpsons version of Macbeth: a segment from “ Four Great Women and A Manicure”
If you haven’t already seen The Simpsons version of Macbeth on the “Four Great Women And A Manicure” episode, the title explains itself. The Macbeth segment starts after an exchange between Lisa and Marge, where they’re bonding and having a manicure, while they talk about great and powerful women of history. Unlike the “Do The Bard Man” segment, it’s not a direct adaptation of a Shakespeare play. The Macbeth segment features all of the Simpsons characters as themselves, experiencing a Shakespearean dilemma.

Simpsons do Macbeth (from S20E20) from Gc Howard on Vimeo.

Here’s a plot summary to explain what I mean when I say it’s a Shakespearean dilemma:  Marge convinces Homer to try out for a Springfield stage adaptation of Macbeth. When he gets a part in the play that’s not the lead role, Marge convinces Homer to kill the actor playing Macbeth. As soon as the news spreads that their lead is dead, Homer is chosen to play Macbeth. When the play is performed in front of an audience for the first time, the critics give Homer’s cast mates better reviews than him. Every time an actor gets all the positive reviews or someone gets in the way of Homer’s path to success, Marge convinces Homer to kill them. This cycle of killing continues until Homer is the only one still alive. The ghosts of the dead Macbeth cast find out that Marge is what caused Homer to kill them and get revenge on her. When she dies, Homer is alone and delivers Macbeth’s famous “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy to the ghost of his dead wife.

The plot of The Simpsons version of Macbeth is a direct reference to the original play because the circumstance mirrors the plotline of the original. Although the Simpsons characters portray themselves in a contemporary Springfield, the arch of the story is similar. Both Marge and Lady Macbeth are convincing their husbands to kill because they want power, which in The Simpsons power relates to fame and fortune. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, power is being wealthy and a member of the royalty. Both women convince their husbands to kill all who stand in the way of their pursuit of power and face the consequences although in The Simpsons version of <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Macbeth, the consequences are different than the original for the sake of making it comedic.

These are some of the most well known (and easy to spot) references to Shakespeare in The Simpsons although there are several. Next time you watch The Simpsons, look out for the Shakespeare tributes hidden in some of the episodes.