5th Birthday Sonnet

By | Events, original practices, Shakespeare | No Comments

On May 26th, 2016, we celebrated our 5th Birthday by launching our 5th season in Withrow Park. Our Board Chairman, Larry Smith, penned a sonnet for the occasion, in the spirit of William Shakespeare, and Sonnet 155 was born. Not only did he perform it for us, but he did so dressed as an Elizabethan playwright. What a guy!

Sonnet  CLV – by Larry Smith

When birthdays come, and come they tend to do,

With unfailing certainty, year to year.

A time it is to take a look anew,

And question all the reasons you are here.

A few have written countless pleasing plays;

While others have those lines breathed into life.

And managers have toiled away their days

Assuring the world’s stage is without strife.

The playbills of our past, we call to mind

And think about our lines, our casts, our crew.

And wonder, with some fear, if we will find

A play next year with roles for me and you.


This year, what drama your life lacked.

Be thankful that you’ve got another act.


2016 Season Announcement

By | Acting, Events, Outdoor theatre, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare | 3 Comments

Drum roll please… We are very excited to announce that this summer, Andrea Donaldson will be directing ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in Withrow Park. Both a highly creative mind and an East End resident, Andrea brings a fresh perspective to our landmark fifth season. Some of her most recent work includes ‘Within the Glass’ at The Tarragon Theatre, where she is the Associate Artistic Director, and ‘Mistatim’ at The Young People’s Theatre, starring Ruff’s own Brendan McMurtry-Howlett. Below you’ll get a glimpse of both Andrea’s passion for this play and the strong theatrical potential of our home base, Withrow Park.

“I am interested in creating a beautiful summer evening which is inspired by love, inspired by the environment, inspired by the outdoors. That people can come and lay out a blanket and sit with their kids or their lovers or their friends and go from fights to really beautiful intimate romantic moments to huge moments in scale that can only happen with this huge outdoor environment.

A big piece of my interest in working outside is operating under the notion that the space in and of itself holds so much information and opportunity. The limitations that is poses are also opportunities in disguise. Having to locate where sundown is going to happen, having to imagine how the trees that I’m looking at right now, in the winter, will look when they’re perfectly green and lush. How do we use the space, how do we enjoy the field that is 60 feet long, when in a theatre we typically only have 20-30 feet in depth. All of these things feel like huge gifts for me and actually a real source of inspiration as a starting point to ask – what are all the things we can do outside that we can’t possibly do inside with four walls and a ceiling?

While I don’t know what that evening’s going to look like really precisely yet, the things I do know is that it’s going to be really beautiful. I know that this Romeo & Juliet wants to be a story about two really unlikely young people who aren’t drawn to each other because they should be, but because they can’t help it. There’s an inexplicable force that’s connecting the two of them that doesn’t make sense in their world. I think that that’s truly what love is, the force of love, the power of love, and the power of healing that love can have.”

Shakesbeers Showdown 2014

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AJ Richardson, Ruff’s resident dramaturge extraordinaire, actor and notorious beer-guzzler participated in an event last weekend that brought together two of his favourite things: brew and the Bard. Competitors from six local Shakespeare companies (who knew there were so many?) came together to see who could best cold-read the First Folio (the first edition of many of Shakespeare’s plays published in a single volume, in 1623). Whenever an error was made, beer was consumed. Even without a line flub, beer was consumed. It was a fierce competition, and with Ruff as the 2013 reigning champions, the pressure was on…

In conjunction with many other worldwide Shakespeare events (celebrating his 450th birthday last week), The Shakesbeers Showdown of 2014 in support of Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective’s Julius Caesar Project was a collision of Indie Shakespeare All-Stars at the Mây (876 Dundas West), who kindly donated the competitors’ beers with special guest Jessica Speziale providing rock music between rounds!

Spur-of-the-Moment, #Gamefaced by Luisa Zhu and Clare Blackwood, was the only team to be comprised entirely of women – perhaps this is a taste of things to come with their production of Julius Caesar later this summer. Last year’s runner-up, Scott Moyle of Urban Bard, brought a secret weapon in the form of new teammate Mel Hrymak. Humber River Shakespeare sent out Sara Moyle and the very sportsmanlike Steve Coombes. Shakey-Shake & Friends were represented by Shakey-Shake himself and his friend Len (handled by Tom McGee and former Guerrilla Ruffian Shakespeare Squad Captain Kyle Shields, respectively). Shakespeare Bash’d’s James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus did their best to lure my teammate, Jesse Griffiths, when it was revealed that I left the ruffs (our uniform) at home. Luckily, thanks to a special delivery, they showed up in the nick of time and we were ruffed! But after Jesse was eliminated in a precarious first round match up which saw the other two readers advance, the pressure of bringing back the back bacon fell squarely on my shoulders. I was back, of course, to defend my title as last year’s champion.


AJ Richardson & Scott Moyle compete in round two

After being defeated fair and square in the first round by Spur-of-the-Moment’s Luisa Zhu, I magically found myself competing in the second round!?!  In a rematch of last year’s finale, Scott Moyle and I were both whistled for mistakes twice by the ump, Susan Bond.  I, ever the sportsman, actually took three drinks after calling myself out on an otherwise grey-shaded reading. Urban Bard, of course, only deals in black and whites, and it was Scott who advanced to the final round only to be defeated fair and square by Luisa Zhu as well.  I was beaten by the winner. (I was beaten by the dude I beat before and was thereafter beaten by the winner.)  I joked with them that Spur-of-the-Moment defeated me so seriously, I was going to end up in the hospital. And in a way, I will.  This fall, I’ll be directing their Shakespeare-in-Hospitals Program!  So, I think I can still say I was on the winning team.

A Thing or Two About Shakespeare

By | Acting, Events, Shakespeare | No Comments

We, here at Shakespeare in the Ruff, come across a myriad of Shakespeare-related material. Every month we choose some of our favourites to share with you.

April 2014:


What are you doing to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this month? If you haven’t made any plans yet, consider heading to Stratford-Upon-Avon for the annual celebration that’s likely to be bigger than ever on this milestone year. This might be the one event where our ruffs would fit right in.

Join Shakespeare’s birthday party


If you’re not into celebrating the birthday of a man, long dead, then celebrate the coming together of two of our favourite things: Hamlet and Benedict Cumberbatch. The rumours have been substantiated and he’ll be playing The Dane at London’s Barbican Theatre in 2015.


If you haven’t seen celebrity impressionist, Jim Meskimen, perform Clarence’s speech (from Richard III), don’t wait another minute – it is nothing short of brilliant. He’s aiming for 1 million views and is only about 30, ooo views away from reaching his goal. Let’s help him get there!

[youtube_video] j8PGBnNmPgk [/youtube_video]

 Our personal favourite is Woody Allen – such an unexpected and hilarious match.

Ruffing It: Coffee & a Scroll

By | Events

Five days to go until our second annual experiment in Elizabethan original practices. Which practice you may be wondering, and that is of rehearsing, or not rehearing to be more accurate. Very little formal rehearsal was ever recorded in Elizabethan times, the common thought was that it was more of a trial by fire setting where actors learned their ‘roles’ in isolation, with only their lines and their cues to work with, written down for them on a scroll (see our modern, computer aided version above).

For many reasons, only one full copy of the script existed, kept locked up in the theatre vault, and only accessed in a pinch.  “Most notable, every part of every play mounted in the period was written out on a separate scroll. Only one of these remains from the period for the professional theatre-but thousands of these must have existed at one time.” (Cognition in the Globe by Evelyn B. Tribble)   Sunday night, at the Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St), we will be continuing our exploration of this method of preparation with Ruffing It, this year with battle scenes…should be a riot.

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