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April 2013

Lois talks to Kimia (2012 Young Ruffian)

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(Lois Adamson, our Youth Development Coordinator, speaks to one of the Young Ruffians about her experience last summer with Shakespeare in the Ruff)

We were fortunate to work with an amazing group of committed and passionate young people who took part in our inaugural Young Ruffian Apprenticeship Program last summer. Kimia was one of these young people. We learned so much from her incredible dedication, creative spirit and passion for theatre and it was wonderful to chat with her 7 months later to hear her reflect on her experience.

Kimia, why did you decide to apply to take part in the Young Ruffian Apprenticeship Program last summer?

What really drew me to the program was that I wanted to gain more insight on understanding Shakespeare. High school English classes do the work no justice, especially since many references in modern literature come from Shakespeare’s work itself. I felt like I was missing out on something very crucial just because I didn’t understand it. Kind of like that moment when everyone’s in on an inside joke and you’re not.

Can you describe your experience with us last summer in 5 words?

Shakespeare finally makes sense now .

What moment stands out most strongly in your mind?

The opening night of the show. It’s one thing to be a part of the rehearsal process of the show but it’s totally something different to see all the layers come together to make one huge spectacle. It’s kind of the reason why I love theatre and all aspect of making theatre.

What was the most challenging part of the program?

Looking past the poetry to see what was being said by the characters. We’re so well-trained to tune out the second we see Shakespeare’s descriptive words that it makes it hard to focus on what is being said. It can feel like you’re looking at a huge blob of words with no understanding of what’s going on. It’s hard to see past that and see what’s going on, sometimes I’d have to read a page over and over again until I understood what was being said. But once I understood what was happening, I saw the clever puns and the beauty in the choices of words. It really helped to have a mentor there as well who could share some insight.

Through your participation in the program, what have you learned about the world of professional theatre?

They made performing it look so easy! Everyone worked with each other in perfect harmony, it was such a breath of fresh air to see that. I learned that it takes A LOT of layers to make a production happen, things that wouldn’t even cross your mind like fundraising and advertising. Luckily, though, this program brought in guest artists from different fields that helped us learn more.

And finally, what advice would you give to future Young Ruffians?

Take in as much as you can out of this program, there are so many resources available to your reach. The cast and crew are there to help you so go out and ask them about their job. Ask the cast questions about their characters, it helps you understand more and it helps them to reaffirm their choices and understanding of their characters (double whammy!) oh…  and most importantly take notes, it’s amazing how much you learn in one day.

Thanks Kimia!

We look forward to welcoming more participants like Kimia this year and spending another amazing summer together with our Young Ruffians in Withrow Park. Our applications are available online now and are due at the end of the month (April 30th). Please share this with a young person in your life who loves theatre and might be interested in joining us.

Long live the King!

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(Alex McCooeye writes about reprising his role as Richard III this summer, with Shakespeare in the Ruff, in Toronto’s Withrow Park)

It’s been five years since Diane D’Aquila directed my fellow classmates and me in Richard III at The National Theatre School. Time flies when you’re murdering royalty. And although it was an incredibly fulfilling experience for all involved, Diane and I have never been able to shake the idea of performing the play again, but this time, outdoors.

Ms. D’Aquila, who has previously played both Margaret and Queen Elizabeth at The Stratford Festival, will be playing The Duchess in our production (she’s too old for Ann now (I mean that respectfully)), has the rare ability to change the entire outcome of a scene with a slight shift in stress, or intention, or focus. During our time together at NTS, we spent as many hours uncovering the play as one might spend digging bones out of a parking lot.

Bad joke.

But one day, late in the process, when inspiration was at a low, and our minds were full of iambic pentameter, or prose, or who cared what the difference was, we were kicked out of our rehearsal room (probably because of those loathed French students (mes intentions sont respectful)). And so we were forced to do a run-through of the play in Laurier Park about 3 blocks down from the school.

Then everything broke wide open.

We had already been thinking of it as a young person’s play. A youthful royal, treacherously battling his way through the old guard to get to the top. But young people can run, and a park allows for running. A lot of it. I stood in the middle as a murderer chased my brother across a baseball field, or a messenger ran over a hillside, or my trusted sidekick cursed me from across the street. All of this chaos with one man at the centre of it, canoodling with the audience all the while.

This is the experience that we’ve been chasing since that fateful afternoon five years ago, and with Shakespeare in the Ruff, we’re bringing that to Withrow Park this summer. We’re dying to share it with you, or should I say murdering?

Final bad joke.

(a sneak peak of Alex inhabiting the hunchback King in our second season announcement video below)

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