Outdoor (& inexpensive) Shakespeare in & around Toronto

You don’t have to schlep to the Stratford Festival or spend a lot of money to see some great Shakespeare this summer. Check out these local productions, running under the stars…

Canadian Stage’s annual Shakespeare in High Park: Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream—running now in rep to Sept 2 in Toronto’s High Park. PWYC ($20 suggested) at the door or advance reserve premium seats online.

Dauntless City Theatre’s Bard in Berczy: Much Ado About Nothing—running Aug 3 – 26 in Toronto’s Berczy Park (near St. Lawrence Market, that park with the cool dog-themed fountain). PWYC.

Driftwood Theatre Group’s Bard’s Bus Tour: Rosalynde (or, As You Like It)running nowall over Ontario till Aug 12, including two performances in Toronto at Ontario Place Trillium Park. Free or PWYC (see the schedule for details).

Shakespeare in the Ruff presents AD Kaitlyn Riordan’s radical adaptation of Julius Caesar: Portia’s Julius Caesar—running Aug 16 to Sept 3 in Toronto’s Withrow Park. PWYC ($20 suggested); reserve $20-$30.



Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Meet contestants Kaitlyn Riordan & Chanakya Mukherjee


Aaand our next intrepid contestants for First Folio supremacy in Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Jurassic BARD hail from team Shakespeare in the Ruff. Introducing Kaitlyn Riordan (aka Kaitlyn “Frickin” Riordan, or maybe that’s just me) and Chanakya Mukherjee!

Kaitlyn-Riordan-10483-8x10-e1513023135751Contestant: Kaitlyn Riordan

Team: Shakespeare in the Ruff

Favourite play from the Shakespeare canon: Hamlet

Favourite character from the canon that you’ve played so far: Ophelia

Dream role from the canon: Henry V


Chanakya_Mukherjee_HeadshotContestant: Chanakya Mukherjee

Team: Shakespeare in the Ruff

Favourite play from the Shakespeare canon: Coriolanus

Favourite character from the canon that you’ve played so far: Pompey (Measure for Measure)

Dream role from the canon: Romeo


Advance tickets for Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Jurassic BARD are available online.

Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Meet contestant Kate McArthur


Spur of the Moment Shakespeare Collective is back with its 7th annual battle for First Folio supremacy with Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Jurassic BARD on April 27 at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education. Team contestants will face off in cold reads from the notoriously hard to read First Folio—and the winner will be dubbed Shakesbeers Showdown Heavyweight Champion! Oh, and did I mention, there will be beer. Lots and lots of beer!

Competing this year are:
Spur-Of-The-Moment Shakespeare Collective
Shakey-Shake and Friends Theatre Company
Shakespeare in the Ruff
Skipping Stones Theatre
Theatre By Committee
Shakespeare BASH’d
Theatre ARTaud
Stratford Festival
The Reviewers (I’ll try to find out which ones)
The People (comprised of individual contestants competing without a company)

I’ll be posting contestants’ responses to three rapid fire questions as I receive them, up until the battle begins. Here we go with our first contestant…

Kate McArthur HeadshotContestant: Kate McArthur
Team: Shakespeare BASH’d

Favourite play from the Shakespeare canon: Twelfth Night
Favourite character from the canon that you’ve played so far: Malvolio
Dream role from the canon: I’ve got something more like a top five…or ten. I usually just say “Whichever I am playing next!” Yeah, yeah. That’s a cop out. But for now, let’s go with Hamlet, because I can’t make a decision and won’t stop talking.

Advance tickets for Shakesbeers Showdown 2018: Jurassic BARD are available online.

Rowdy & rollicking romance with Two Gents

Went to see the delightful outdoor production of Two Gents in Withrow Park last night, Shakespeare in the Ruff’s adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona, the company’s inaugural season, which included a six-week youth apprenticeship program for secondary students, The Young Ruffians.

As an added treat, before Two Gents, the audience got to see the first performance of a short piece created by The Young Ruffians, inspired by their participation in the program. A hilarious and satirical look at a young classical theatre company, with a put-upon stage manager, self-involved actors and a plot to become the greatest Shakespeare company in the world. Best line: “Trees are nature’s balcony.” Nice work from the Ruffians!

Adapted by Andrew Joseph Richardson with Jonathan Seinen and Brendan McMurty-Howlett, and directed by company A.D. McMurty-Howlett (with Diane D’Aquila as Consulting Director), Two Gents is a tale of young – and sometimes fickle – love, youth coming of age, separation and betrayal. Set in 1880s Canada, the scenes shift from Verona, Ontario to Milan (pronounced “Millen”), Manitoba – with Sylvia’s Duke father revised to be her Duchess mother and winding down with a more socially savoury ending.

The outstanding company for this production includes David Patrick Flemming (Speed, Thurio & Don Antonio), Jesse Griffiths (Valentine), Adrian Morningstar (Proteus), Kaitlyn Riordan (Sylvia & Lucetta), Andrew Joseph Richardson (Launce & Sir Eglamour), Lesley Robertson (Julia) and Trudy Weiss (Duchess), with Launce’s dog played by the adorable Chocolate (with dog wrangler/mom Sarah Hayward), one of the five dogs on the company’s cast roster.

Stand-outs for me were Riordan’s lovely, strong and loyal Sylvia, a young woman torn between duty to her mother and her love of Valentine; Flemming’s irreverent, mercurial and wise-cracking servant Speed; Morningstar’s smooth, scheming and fickle romantic young noble Proteus; and Richardson’s sweet, goofy and dog-loving servant Launce.

I won’t give away the revised ending – you’ll have to go see it for yourself. I will say that all is not forgiven so easily and the rewritten text is from Shakespeare, including the lovely Sonnet #116.

You have two more chances to see Two Gents: tonight and tomorrow night at Withrow Park – 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay what you can, with $15 suggested. If you go tonight (Sat, Sept 1), get there early to see The Young Ruffians perform their final show at 7:00 p.m.

For more info on Two Gents and Shakespeare in the Ruff, please visit their website: http://www.shakespeareintheruff.com/