Today’s Guest Blog is from Michelle Boulet, Director of Timon of Athens, and the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Ruins.
Shakespeare in the Ruins is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year, and while the venue for their plays is the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park, their administrative office are in Portage Place (along with our mutual friends, Prairie Theatre Exchange)
At Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) we believe that the immutable truths of our shared humanity revealed through Shakespeare’s writing remain relevant and transformative to today’s audience. We seek to pair the questions and problems raised by Shakespeare’s work with the compelling questions being asked in our culture today. We consciously illuminate our times through the magnifying and magnificent lens of Shakespeare’s art.
In 2015, our mainstage spring production was Antony & Cleopatra. We set this timeless loves story against the backdrop of pre-confederation Manitoba. We could not have found a better vehicle to generate dialogue about Indigenous issues. Here, the effects of colonialism are still felt on a day to day basis. The show resonated powerfully.
Jump ahead to the spring of 2016 and we produced Richard III featuring SIR Artistic Associate Debbie Patterson in the title role. We knew SIR stood poised to make history by casting a woman with impaired mobility due to multiple sclerosis as Richard III. And indeed, we received international press. But it was Deb’s artistic journey and the joy of embracing inclusivity that made the mounting of this production so memorable.
Which bring us to 2018, SIR’s 25th Anniversary and to Timon of Athens. One of Shakespeare’s least known works, the compelling tale of a wealthy man whose privilege prevented him from learning the true value of money. Despite dire warnings he is unable to see which of his friends are false. This underrated drama is seldom produced. But it is perfect for us, being a timely exploration of elite privilege and the hard fall that follows the loss of public stature. Do you think a play about personal judgement and power might have something to say to us in 2018?
In a year which saw the toppling of many a male public figure and the surge of the female voice, we have opted to tell the story using an all-female cast.
And what do we hope to achieve? Well for all of the young people who will see the show, we hope that for the girls they see themselves reflected on stage. And the boys we hope we are on the cusp of a world that will never be the same. Not just changed, but changed utterly….made better. For in making more space for women, and for those whose voices are marginalized, that is the path to a better world.
The outdoor performances will be set in the early 1980’s, a time when the art scene was gaudy, colorful, and rife with controversy. The show will feature live music and more than a casual nod to that exhilarating period where the rich blindly gave money to artists, “high”art and “street” art were in fierce competition and feminism often took the form of women adopting an androgynous, boyish form.
While the title isn’t Shakespeare’s best known work, an SIR supporter recently quipped, “I’m so excited for this one. It’s Beckett before Beckett was Beckett.”
Director of Timon of Athens | Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Ruins
Timon of Athens runs May 30-June 23, 2018 at the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park.
Call 204-942-5483 for tickets or visit www.shakespeareintheruins.com