Virtual Exhibit

Virtual Galleries

Canadian Adaptations

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Canadian Adaptations

The Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project gallery explores the myriad of Shakespearean adaptations and interpretations within the context of Canadian theatrical culture. Shakespearean adaptation in Canada dates back to pre-Confederation and has continued to exert cultural force through to the present day. The multitude of productions and adaptive inventiveness present in this gallery demonstrates an astonishingly wide spectrum of artistic creation that reveals the complex relationship Canadians have with one of the most globalized iconic cultural figures to emerge in the last several hundred years. This relationship places Shakespeare in distinctly Canadian contexts, while affirming the evolution of Canada’s cultural heritage and situating it in multiple adaptive contexts that explore what it means to be “Canadian.”

Contemporary Portraiture

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Finding the Bard in Contemporary Portraiture

This gallery examines Shakespearean portraiture in contemporary Canadian visual arts. Of the sixteen pieces, five were commissioned specifically with Shakespearean adaptation in mind–many of the other images adapt Shakespeare via allusion and subtle quotation. The visible Shakespearean referents in the varied media, however, regardless of the artists’ intentionality, attest to the ways in which Shakespearean characters and story-lines permeate Canadian culture. The myriad Shakespearean representations and the manner and medium in which they are demonstrated–using food materials, papier mâché, painting, photography, found objects–testifies to the inventiveness of visual adaptations of Shakespeare in Canada, even as it puts to the question any notion of what the designation “portrait” actually means as a referent for an authentic experience of the figure represented by the portrait.

First Nations

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Shakespeare and Canada’s First Nations

This gallery explores the appropriation of aboriginal culture by Canadian culture via Shakespeare, as evidenced in a wide range of artifacts that include rare materials from the 1961 production of the so called “Eskimo” King Lear, as well as from the cultural movement by First Nations peoples themselves to reclaim Shakespeare. Recent Aboriginal adaptations such as Death of a Chief and Ondinnok, serve to address First Nations issues regarding politics, race, gender, and nation, while reconfiguring the historical, cultural, and political hierarchies that were used to oppress and devastate First Nations peoples in Canada.

French Canada

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Pourquoi/Why Shakespeare in French Canada?

This gallery evaluates the importance of Shakespearean adaptations in French Canada. Examining productions from the 1960s onwards, an extraordinary range of original and modernist motifs becomes apparent. Shakespearean adaptation has been used in French Canada as a means of declaring cultural independence, which both rejects French colonial ideals, and asserts freedom from anglicized Canada and its traditionalist approaches to Shakespearean production and interpretation.

L.W. Conolly Archives

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L. W. Conolly Theatre Archives

This gallery illustrates the fascinating ongoing relationship Shakespeare has with Canadian theatrical culture via documents and objects from the L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives at the University of Guelph, the largest theatrical archive in Canada. These objects include theatre props, such as Yorick’s skull from a 1981 Hamlet production, set models and maquettes, including a 1986 production of Romeo and Juliet, and a wide array of posters and costume designs. The objects in evidence here give a small glimpse into the extraordinary range of holdings kept in the archives that are related to Shakespeare and Canada, and highlight the individual contributions of diverse playwrights, directors, designers, and actors from across the country.

Possible Worlds

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Possible Worlds-Designing for Shakespeare in Canada

Canadian theatre designer and professor Pat Flood’s exhibit sheds light on Canadian productions of Shakespeare from the point of view of theatrical designs and designers. The works in this gallery span several decades and represent a wide range of venues, artists, styles, and materials from across the country. In using several modes of artistic creation—including designs with coloured pencils, collages, water colours, pastels, dyed rice paper, found materials, and India ink, as well as 3-D designs like masks, costumes, and set designs and maquettes—Canada’s design culture is shown to have adapted to multicultural influences and to be moving beyond the colonial heritage of British cultural predominance thus defining itself on its own terms.

The Sanders Portrait

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The Sanders Portrait: This Is the Face of the Bard

This gallery investigates and examines the history of the Canadian-owned Sanders Portrait: a painting of an enigmatic, intense man said to be William Shakespeare. The painting dated 1603, is distinct from the other Shakespeare contenders because its label, duly dated to the period, establishes the sitter as “Shakspere” and its 400-year old ownership is ascribed to one family, the Sanders, descendants of the artist who initially painted the portrait. This family provenance is established through extensive genealogical records, family documents, and oral traditions within the family. The Sanders Portrait is of significant educational and historical value to Canada and Canadians. It not only tells the familiar story of immigration to the country (the portrait came to Canada in 1919) but it has also come to represent the pervasive presence of Shakespeare in Canada.

The Stratford Festival Theatre

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A Good Block: The Stratford Festival Theatre

This gallery follows the origins and evolution of the thrust stage from ancient amphitheatres to the Globe theatre of Shakespeare’s day, to the reinvention of the stage at the Stratford Festival in Canada. The thrust stage’s design by Tanya Moiseiwitsch, in which an actor can be seen from all sides, separated the Stratford Festival from other theatres worldwide, not only in terms of how a production was blocked, but also in the conception of how to perform, and how to design costumes, props, and sets. The thrust stage helped to foster a burgeoning Canadian theatre culture through the demands it made on both performers and different elements of design and production staff.

Tounges in Trees Installation

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Tongues in Trees: A Sound Installation

This audio installation, which was intended to greet visitors to the full gallery space, explores the ways in which adults struggling with literacy due to learning disabilities or troubled / low-income histories interact and relate to Shakespeare. As a moving exploration of well-known monologues, the participants reveal Shakespeare’s relevance to different forms of human struggle and experience, and powerfully demonstrate how Shakespeare can be embraced by all manner of people regardless of education, literacy level, or class. Additionally, the outdoor setting of Tongues in Trees placed Shakespeare in a free community setting, where ownership of his words and accessibility were rethought as a function of the performers’ poignant delivery of familiar lines.

Youth Learning Commons

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The Youth Learning Commons Gallery

The Youth Learning Commons created an interactive and educational space for youthful learners visiting the Shakespeare-Made in Canada exhibit. This gallery took a cross-curricular approach, with the intent on providing educational activities for students of many interests and academic levels. Included in this gallery were scientific experiments on art authentication, as well as objects situating scientific discovery in Shakespeare’s day in relation to anamorphic art. Students were invited to examine adaptations created by their peers, as well as having the opportunity to try on costumes, recite monologues, or play the Shakespeare based video literacy game ‘Speare designed by the CASP team specifically for the Exhibit.

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