Caesar Is Returning

"The games are done and Caesar is returning."

Julius Caesar I.2

 

Hello again, friends.

 

It's now been two months since this blog was updated, and those of you who were fortunate enough to join us at our Caesar's Palace fundraising gala will have some idea of what has primarily been occupying my waking (and sleeping) hours in the meantime!  I am, as I hope has already been adequately expressed elsewhere, extremely grateful for all of the generosity of time, talent, creativity, physical labour, good will, enthusiasm and (not least) sweet, sweet cash that contributed to a very successful and worthy celebration of our twentieth anniversary season!

 

I'd like to quickly draw attention to a handful of individuals who probably can't be thanked enough: the cast of the 20-Minute Julius Caesar (see home page for complete list), who slammed that dunk like Wilt Chamberlain playing for the Harlem Globetrotters; our gladiators (see home page), for blowing the lid off the PTE Mainstage; Christopher Brauer and Steven Eric McIntyre, for keeping the cups filled; my brother Ron Klassen, for keeping the food stations laden with delectables; our volunteers Susan Algie, Jim Wagner, Angela Connor, Sylvia Flam, Helen Halpin, Dan Haughey, Kelly Hinds, Andy Horaska, Kathy & Jim Mackenzie, Blair Philpott, Helen Ptasnik, Tracey Loewen, Marion Klassen, and Angela Wells for keeping the wheels turning; our technician Cari Simpson for keeping the lights on and the music playing; and of course (and in particular) our General Manager Matthew Moreau, for generally managing to make the whole thing happen.

 

If YOU were there, thank you for coming!  If you weren't there, start making plans to be at next year's event!

 

And above all, start preparing yourselves to be in attendance at this year's Main Stage production of Julius Caesar at the ruins!

 

PS You should also go see The Walworth Farce being presented and performed by members of SIR's Board & Artistic Ensemble!  Reservations: thewalworthfarce@gmail.com or call (204) 880.9097.

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Our Work Alive

"Well, to our work alive."

Julius Caesar IV.3

 

Happy New Year!

 

Things are CRAZY BUSY here in the office, so please accept this brief missive updating you as to the whereabouts and whatabouts of your SIR Artistic Ensemble:

 

I, Kevin Klassen, your humble blogster will be appearing as "Kevin the Waiter" in Dry Cold Productions' Follies - part of RMTC's SondheimFest!  It is going to a FANTASTIC show!

 

Speaking of SondheimFest, Arne MacPherson is directing an impressive cast in Sunday In the Park With George for Gallery Works! Go see it!  In fact, go see all the SondheimFest shows: the man is a genuis!

 

Speaking of genius, Gordon Tanner has gone on the road with Prairie Theatre Exchange's Magical Mystery Munsch tour (pray for him)!

 

Speaking of "gone", Sarah Constible is currently "blowing" audiences away with her standout performance in RMTC's Gone With The Wind!

 

Speaking of RMTC, Andrew Cecon is now on a regional tour and will soon arrive at the John Hirsch Mainstage in Ed's Garage!

 

Oh… and Michelle Boulet is STILL on vacation, somewhere in the South Pacific….

 

 

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The Gift Doth Stretch Itself

“If both gain, all the gift doth stretch itself as 'tis received, and is enough for both.” 

All’s Well That Ends Well, II.1

 

As the metaphorical curtain comes down on another great year at SIR, we would like to thank you, our loyal audience, for your enthusiastic support. 

 

Thank you! You were with us every step of the way back to our original home in the breath-taking Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park, for the picturesque production of Henry V.  Those of you who came out to see it will no doubt recall many memorable moments and images from your experience there: the rolling piano; marching soldiers silhouetted against a setting sun; the Chorus reporting from up in a tree; and, of course, the majesty of the ruined monastery itself.  

 

The response from those who attended our public performances of A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night’s Dream (and that of the thousands of students who saw it as it toured across the prairies) was also a delight to behold, and we are proud to have this charming comedy as the latest addition to our “Stripped-Down” canon.

 

In all, we could not have wished for a more exciting, entertaining season – and yet, as we wind up our year end and prepare to exeunt for our “Holiday Hiatus”, we fear there may be naught but coal in our SIR stockings.  For, despite the success of both of our productions, we’re still seeking donations before December 31st to help cover the cost of our expanded school tour and outreach activities.  This year’s tour spent more time travelling outside the city than ever before (including a four-day stint in distant Sioux Lookout, Ontario)!

 

We ask you to consider including SIR in your holiday giving with a gift of $500, $50, or even $5. All gifts will help us to ensure a strong future of public and school performances and educational outreach. We have exciting plans for next year’s 20th Anniversary season and look forward to sharing them with you soon.

 

Should you so choose, donations may be made by sending a cheque to the office, or simply click on the CanadaHelps button on the left side of your monitor.

 

We thank you for giving this your consideration, and as we head towards the holiday season, all of us here at SIR wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday and all the best for the New Year.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Michelle, Kevin, and Matt

 

 

December 1s

 

 

 

 

 

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We Are Not Here

"All for your delight we are not here."

A Midsummer Night's Dream, V.1

 

Just a quick post to tell you where you can find a few of our Ensemble Members these days:

 

Andrew & Arne can both be found in the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's John Hirsch Theatre in  A Few Good Men.

 

Sarah can soon be seen in Prairie Theatre Exchange's The Swearing Jar.

 

Yours truly is now appearing in Theatre Projects Manitoba's John & Beatrice.

 

And Gord, of course, will be sharing his magic in 3 public performances of A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night's Dream.

 

Go and see them all (especially A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night's Dream)!

 

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All That You Are Like To Know

"The actors are at hand and by their show you shall know all that you are like to know"

A Midsummer Night's Dream V.1

 

As we are one week away from launching into the first day of rehearsal for the first production of A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night's Dream, here are the names of the artists who are involved:

 

Julia Arkos will be making her first appearance with SIR as "Hippolyta", "Hermia" & "Titania"

 

Dorothy Carroll will also make her SIR debut as "Egeus", "Helena" & "Quince"

 

Gordon Tanner, in his first SIR role(s) since becoming an Ensemble Member will portray "Theseus", "Lysander" & "Oberon"

 

Glen Thompson (of Henry V, Merry Wives of Windsor & Stripped-Down R&J fame) will round things out as "Demetrius", "Bottom" & "Puck"

 

All other roles will either be played by audience members, or by figments of their imaginations!

 

Of course, the play is being adapted & directed by our own Debbie Patterson, and our good friend Matthew Lagacé (whom many of you met this past spring as our box office manager, and who provided Stage Management Assistance on Merry Wives of Windsor) will be travelling as Stage Manager for the tour. 

 

The legendary Grant Guy will provide costume design, and – fresh from assisting on Henry V -  Steve Vande Vyvere will hold sole responsibility for the position of Production Manager.

 

And, I hope, here is a play fitted!

 

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One More, Most Welcome

"And you among the store, one more, most welcome, makes my number more."

Romeo and Juliet I.2

 

It is with tremendous pride and giddy anticipation that I hereby announce the first new addition to the SIR Artistic Ensemble in over eight years: Gordon Tanner.

 

While Gordon has graced SIR with his presence as a performer but twice (in Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor), the impact his presence had on the quality of those two shows, and the impact he has had on Manitoba's theatre (and film) community in nearly two decades as an actor, writer, director and producer more than qualify him for his place among our rogue's gallery.

 

Gord's demonstrated work ethic and capacity to "call it as he sees it" (rarely without some degree of his infamously gleeful, sardonically barbed sense of humour), and his generous nature have always made him a joy with whom to collaborate, and he will, I have no doubt, make a valuable and lasting impact on the future of Shakespeare in the Ruins.

 

Welcome aboard, Gord!

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What the Play Treats On

"First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point."

A Midsummer Night's Dream I.2

 

Well, it's Winnipeg Fringe Festival time again, and many of our Ensemble Members (hardcore theatre-makers that we are) have been busy as Biebs putting together their respective contributions.  Here's what I can tell you about them (to find them, click on the title):

 

Because I'm the one writing this blog, I'll start with my show:

 

Lulu: A Monster Tragedy 

 

This show was directed by your humble blogger (Kevin Klassen) and included among the cast is Ensemble member Andrew Cecon, as well as SIR alumnae Alicia Johnston (Taming of the Shrew), Rob McLaughlin (Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello & more) and Charlene Van Buekenhout (Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night's Dream), as well as Winnipeg icon Brian Richardson.  The show also includes video footage edited by SIR's Sarah Constible and props, costumes, audio/video equipment, chairs and risers generously donated by Shakespeare in the Ruins!

 

Speaking of Andrew Cecon, you should also go see:

 

Broken Wings

 

This show was written and produced by Andew, and also features the acting talent of Rob McLaughlin, as well as Shakespeare In The City's program director Claire Therese.  It was directed by Brenda McLean (Assistant Director Henry V) and benefits from the technical expertise of SIR's Eric Bossé (who can also be found as the house technician for KidsFringe).

 

Andrew is also performing in:

 

The Touring Test

 

 

Debbie Patterson is doing multiple fringe duty as a director this year with:

 

 

The Anger In Ernest and Ernestine

 

and

 

The Tracey Fragments

 

So get out there and get your fringe on!

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Warriors

"We are but warriors for the working day"

Henry V IV.3

 

Nine years ago, we (SIR) were in the midst of creating our first spring show outside of the ruins: the "parkade rooftop" Romeo and Juliet.  This was my second show with SIR and my first as a member of the Company (now the Artistic Ensemble).  The process of bringing that show together was, as I recall it, particularly trying for a variety of reasons (logistical issues with the venue; technical demands associated with the overall concept [motor vehicles]; a number of challenges related to personal circumstances, and even a medical emergency).  One early evening in the pub, following yet another day of mind-body-spirit problem-solving, I was marveling at length (as was my wont) in enthusiastic wonder and admiration at the dedication and fortitude of our cast and crew, and their "show must go on" commitment in the face of unreasonable adversity.  Having worked myself up to a head, I closed out my little rant with the exclamation/proclamation:

 

"You know what we are?  We're warriors of art!"

 

Back in our proper home in the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park, in a full-scale promenade, environmentally immersive setting, I am once again overwhelmed by the feelings of joy, frustration, accomplishment, anxiety, exhaustion, and satisfaction that are all inherent to being a part of the SIR experience.  (The above list in its entirety is hopefully reserved for the artists.  However, it is my hope that, frustration and anxiety excepted, our audience will have a similar mind-body-spirit experience right along with us: "Work!  Work your thoughts!".)

 

The sheer physical energy, mental dexterity, emotional resolve and vulnerability, and focus of energy required to perform Shakespeare's plays amid the minimally controllable sonic, visual, physical and meteorological landscape of the ruins and their environs, and the resulting depth of understanding and visceral response to Shakespeare's words which the whole experience (hopefully) offers audience and artist alike combine to create (in my own humble opinion) a uniquely valuable artistic experience.

 

If all that sounds a bit daunting, just think of it as an invigorating walk in a picturesque park, accompanied by a living, breathing, running and jumping representation of one of the world's greatest works of historical drama. 

 

Please don't miss it.

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Admit Me Chorus

"For the which supply, admit me Chorus to this history"

Henry V  Prologue

 

Holy moley: has it really been seven weeks since the last blog post?

 

Well, as you are likely aware, there's been quite a lot happening here at the old SIR headquarters…

 

For one thing, WE'RE GOING BACK TO THE RUINS!!!

 

Also, for the past two weeks we've been actually rehearsing for our Main Stage production of Henry V.

 

It's a great play, and it's going to look (and sound) great out AT THE RUINS!!!

 

As of twenty minutes ago, I got myself officially (if not impeccably) off-book, so I thought I'd drop a quick line or two just to say how excited and grateful I (and everyone else to whom I've spoken) am (are) about (for) the opportunity to be working on this magnificent play.

 

Shakespeare has managed to create a portrait of war that challenges our motives and questions the cost, while simultaneously offering a moving and heartfelt salute to the unfathomable (from my perspective, at least) courage and sacrifice of those who fight.

 

I have been given the great privilege of playing "Chorus" and "Captain Fluellan", and I am learning much.  I promise to keep you posted. 

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A Reasonable Good Ear In Music

"I have a reasonable good ear in music."

MSND IV.1

 

Well, it's official: SIR will be participating in next year's SondheimFest with a production of "West Side Story"! 

 

As most people know, this musical is based on Romeo and Juliet, and, after Head and The Threepenny Opera, it seems like a natural enough progression for an organization that's constantly trying to expand its programming and create new challenges for our membership.

 

Not to mention: April Fool.

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