Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop- Making a difference in the lives of students!

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

Students at Central Toronto Academy were inspired by the Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop performance, and found a way to combine Shakespeare and rap for their final Drama class project! Find out what they had to say about the show, and watch them rehearse!

The Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop tour will be back for the 2015/16 season! Visit our website or send an e-mail to for more info!

Meet the SIA Summer Camp Team- Ariella


Shakespeare in Action, Summer 2014

Starring Ariella Flatt as…

Assistant Director of Teen Camp

Hello everyone! My name is Ariella, and I am your assistant director. I am going into my final year at University of Toronto, studying Classical Voice Performance/ Opera, and have a passion for acting and directing. I can’t wait to meet you all!


My favourite…

Shakespearean Play………………………………………………….Romeo and Juliet

Musical………………………………………………………………Spring Awakening

Book…………………………………………………………………Pride and Prejudice



Photo Friday- Envelopes! Envelopes Everywhere!

Today, the SIA team spent a better portion of the day gathered at the meeting table. For what, you say? Why, stuffing envelopes of course!
We are excited to announce that our popular interactive touring program, Shakespeare Alive will be returning this Spring! The tour will start on March 31, and run until April 11. We are visiting schools across Toronto and the GTA, so make sure to book your school now!


Rosemary is focused on getting through her pile of flyers!


The wall between me and Rosemary is growing by the minute! And we weren’t even half finished at this point!

A Student’s POV- Stage Combat

The date is January 21, 2014, and it seemed as if this day took forever to come…

It all started last Monday in my schools’ drama class, as we were all getting excited for the upcoming unit. Our teacher told us about this unit at the beginning of the year, but we didn’t want to get too excited. We still had the whole semester in front of us before we could do this, but when last Monday came around, you could see the excitement in all our eyes. I even saw a little excitement in my teacher, although he didn’t want to show it.

We all knew he was excited, because our next unit was Stage Combat. That’s right… Stage Combat! And we weren’t going to learn how to give a fake punch, or pretend to kick someone. No, we were going to be using swords. Our teacher stepped in front of the class the prior Friday, and gave a brief, but exciting announcement.

“Tomorrow, we will be have a guest come in by the name of Simon. Get ready for some sword fightin’.”

We were so excited when Simon came in on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and taught us so many things, from how to properly defend yourself, to how to “kill” your opponent and make it look believable. For days, we worked in partners for our scene, and they were all very funny scenes. There was one about a couple fighting on if they should watch an action movie or a musical, and there was another about a drug deal gone wrong, and then there was mine, Blockbuster versus Netflix. Each group took the moves taught and mixed them to make incredible fighting scenes.

Now before I finish, I must give a thank you to Shakespeare In Action, because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to do this since Simon worked with them. Thank you and goodbye.

Josh Peters is a Grade 11 student at Central Commerce Collegiate. He has been with SIA this past semester as part of his co-op placement
. We enjoyed working with him, and wish him the best of luck for next semester!

What if Shakespeare……were a hipster drama student at a modern-day college in Canada?

Such is the premise of Blank Verse, a self-styled “Shakespeare Web Series” produced by Nik Nok Media. The show imagines how the bard would act, think, dress, and write if he came into his own as a playwright not on the boards of a 16th century London playhouse, but in the classrooms of Bankside University, a fictional present-day Canadian theatre school. Bard enthusiasts and history buffs alike will have a ball spotting the various historical figures that have been transplanted from Elizabethan England to a Canada-like present day: Christina “Chris” Marlowe is a best-selling novelist/Creative writing MA candidate, Elizabeth Tudor is the head of the Creative Writing Department at Bankside, Richard Burbage (one of the actor’s in Shakespeare’s company, The King’s Men) is a hard-partying undergrad, Benjamina “Ben” Johnson, is an overachieving highschooler enrolled in a Bankside class for extra credit. Will himself is an angsty twenty-something with a blog and a dream.

Now tell me that isn’t the darlingest thing to hit the internet since the last time your kitten did something cute and you caught it on your iphone just in time.

The first season aired in weekly installments from August to December 2013, and the team is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to launch their second season. If you are looking for a cute, quirky, and endearingly nerdy webseries to get into, look no further than Blank Verse!

Conquering Shakespearephobia and the Importance of Live Theatre Today

“…and he felt no remorse what so ever!” is what I overheard a student remarking last week as he and his classmates exited the theatre after attending SIA’s production of Hamlet. I imagine his remark was in reference to Claudius’ character. That kind of observation, comparison and conversation is why theatre is important. Theatre helps us understand human motivation and psychology, it teaches us to look inward at ourselves and identify with characters that mirror or challenge our values and simultaneously entertains audiences.

I believe that it is harder than ever to successfully capture today’s theatre audience, but I also believe that today’s audience is better equipped to be challenged and moved by the power of theatre. Here’s why: I often observe parents or teachers remarking that kids today are more technologically inclined than ever, that they’ve been operating computers and iPhones since before they could talk. That’s why the experience of attending a live show is thrilling. It’s brand new and it’s happening in real time, it’s “reality entertainment” at it’s best…it doesn’t get more real than actors performing right before your eyes. Unfortunately I think we underestimate the transient power of theatre and assume that kids today don’t understand or can’t appreciate or can’t grasp the complexity of theatre let alone Shakespeare’s work.  I’m 24 and I’m a theatre graduate and I’m not sure that I’ll ever fully understand Shakespeare, but I know how it makes me feel, and isn’t that the point? To be able to experience something that sparks an insightful conversation? Something that reminds us of our own humanity?

I’m writing this morning from our offices at Shakespeare in Action, a week after overhearing that student’s reaction to Hamlet…I can still see the expression on that student’s face, smiling at his friend, something about Claudius’ character resonated with him and made him contemplate the themes of remorse and consequence. I was ushering that afternoon and he thanked me on his way out, “This was really good,” he said, “Thank you so much!” And in that moment, I was humbly reminded of how thankful I am for that thing called theatre magic. It’s real. Get out to a theatre and experience it for yourself and whatever you do, don’t fret about whether you ‘get’ it or not.

Photo Friday- Hamlet and His Advisors

As you may be aware, Shakespeare in Action turns 25 this year (we’re all grown up!), so you’ll forgive us if we’ve been caught up in nostalgia lately. Photo Friday lends the perfect opportunity to take a look back, quite literally, at our long and storied history. And since the first show of our 25th anniversary season is Hamlet, let’s take a peek at this priceless relic from the early days of Shakespeare in Action.

In this scene, advisors to Hamlet (i.e. students from a local secondary school) gather around to give the prince some much-needed counsel.


(Bonus points if you can deduce based on hairstyle alone in which decade of our illustrious history this photo was taken!)

Wordy Wednesday- Pomp and Circumstance

“Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”

The phrase may seem familiar to you from the musical piece “Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches, Op. 39” by Sir Edward Elgar, often heard at graduation ceremonies.Given these two contexts, one may be able to deduce that the meaning hasn’t changed too drastically since Shakespeare’s time. Pomp is derived from the Greek word “pompa” meaning procession, and is used to describe something of “magnificence and splendor”. (Pomp, used in its negative form, describes “an ostentatious display of wealth or ceremony” lending the adjective “pompous”, which originally meant simply “characterized by pomp” but now means “self-important or arrogant.”) Circumstance, in this phrase, is used in its singular form, and means “the ‘ado’ made about anything; formality, ceremony, about any important event or action”. We commonly use the plural form “circumstances” in a similar way to describe “a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action”.
The phrase “pomp and circumstance” thus means a magnificent display with surrounding fuss and/or importance. I think graduation ceremonies capture the essence of this phrase quite well. The “pomp” is the ceremony itself of graduates being celebrated, and the circumstance is demonstrated by those attending the event to witness and celebrate the achievements of the graduates, many of whom take photos and videos to commemorate the event.

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!