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Special Fundraising Event

The Jedi Doth Return Fundraiser

The Empire will fall and we will party

Join the Friends of SIR for a special fundraising event as we present a rebellious reading of

The Jedi Doth Return

By Ian Doescher

Enjoy a spectacular mash-up of the Bard and the Force, performed by a star-studded cast of Winnipeg’s finest celebrities, comedians and actors. Costume Contest. Complimentary Eats. Cash Bar. Raffle. Auction. Lightsaber Battles.

Tuesday, Sept 20, 2016
West End Cultural Centre
Doors open at 7pm
Tickets are $40. They are available at the door or at the SIR office:
204.957.1753 or shakespeare@mts.net

Win Tickets to The Jedi Doth Return!

We’re excited to announce our CONTEST to win 2 tickets to our upcoming fundraiser, The Jedi Doth ReturnTues. Sept. 20th at the West End Cultural Centre, doors open at 7pm.

Compose a 12 line or under sonnet in the Star Wars/Shakespeare theme and email it to Shakespeare in the Ruins shakespeare@mts.net.

Deadline is next Wednesday, Sept. 14th at 12 noon. The winner will receive 2 tickets to The Jedi Doth Return, plus their sonnet will be read at our event.


Good luck to all and May the Force be with thou.


Cast in back of lemozeen


We would like to thank everyone who came out to see Richard III! And we would like to extend our gratitude to our generous sponsors, donors and to everyone who helped make this show such a success. Richard III played to record audiences during its recent run from June 2 to 25 at Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park. The last two weeks of the run played to sold out houses, with over 2000 brave souls promenading around the Ruins.  While many a day saw the show start under ominous clouds, it was the first year ever that SIR did not have to either cancel a performance or do the show under our festival tent.

“We are so proud to have brought this historical production to our loyal, hardy, and devout audience.  We also welcome all the first-timers.  We know we shall see you all next year.  Hint:  book early to avoid either disappointment from sell-outs AND more importantly the mosquitos!!!”

For more than twenty years, Shakespeare in the Ruins has been bringing the best of the Bard to Manitoba audiences.  Look for our 2017 season announcement to happen in the fall of 2016.

Richard III Reviews

Richard III Performance

Read the reviews from CBC, Winnipeg Free Press and The Sou’wester

Shakespeare in the Ruins’ King Richard III offers deliciously decadent devilry
Play portrays in gory detail the rise and fall of this most villainous of characters

By Michelle Palansky, CBC News Posted: Jun 03, 2016 5:32 PM CT Last Updated: Jun 03, 2016 5:32 PM CT

Richard lll is a lie.

A Shakespearean propaganda tool lifted whole-cloth from Sir Thomas More’s unfinished History of King Richard III, it was originally performed for King Charles, whose Tudor dynasty began when Richmond defeated Richard at Bosworth Field and ended the Plantagenet dynasty. It was all spin in order to curry favour with the reigning monarch — deliciously decadent spin.

Filled with horrible people doing terrible things to each other, Shakespeare in the Ruins’ Richard lll portrays in gory detail the rise and fall of this most villainous of characters. Even for Shakespeare, the death toll is high. Over the course of the play Richard kills off Lady Anne’s father-in-law and husband, his two brothers (the elder through stress at the younger’s death), his two young nephews, Queen Elizabeth’s brother and son, and several former political supporters. All of this before intermission! It’s a blood bath and not for the faint of heart.

Originally written for the great Richard Burbage, Richard lll is one of the most highly sought after roles in the Shakespearean canon. It is considered a true test of an actor’s mettle to portray Richard’s mass of physical sufferings. Since the actual Richard lll’s exhumation from a Leicester car park, it is known that he suffered from a small curvature of the spine which he could have easily concealed. And this is where Shakespeare in the Ruins’ production provides a fresh and interesting take.
Billed as “one of the first times (if not THE first time) in Canada that a bona fide disabled person play[s] this famously disabled villain,” Debbie Patterson has MS and walks with two crutches. Because Patterson’s disability is not a performance but her very own reality, it becomes far less important to the characterization, and allows the audience to really focus on the diabolical machinations of this most vilified of kings. And he is a bad one. Making no excuses for his actions, Patterson is joyfully exuberant in Richard’s evil doing and it is sinfully enjoyable to watch. A little guilt inducing to so much enjoy his plotting and politicking, but he does get his in the end.

The supporting cast is superb. Playing multiple characters, they do an excellent job of clearly delineating one from the other, which is particularly helpful for audience members unfamiliar with the play. Not to fear. There is a synopsis to follow in case of confusion and the story is relatively easy to follow.

As one would expect, out of the multitude of characters played, each actor had one role that particularly stood out on this opening night performance. Arne MacPherson’s King Edward was shambling and broken and sad. A rubber-faced miracle was Toby Hughes as the gormless Catesby. Tracey Nepinak, ex-Queen Margaret, bewitchingly casts her spell on the troubled York clan, and Cherissa Richard’s Queen Elizabeth is convincingly regal and heartbreakingly tragic. To Ratcliffe, Sarah Constible brings a tweaked-out slavishness for Richard lll that is pitiful to behold. And for a real heart-breaker, look no further than Andrew Cecon’s superlative portrayal of Richard’s brother Clarence, who fails to stop his murderer’s hand. A study in contradictions, Toni Reimer brings layers of anger and guilt and pain-endured to her portrayal of the widowed Lady Anne, and Omar Alex Khan really heats up the final scene before intermission with a rabble rousing speech that seals Richard’s ascendancy to the throne.

Clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes, with a 20 minute intermission, may seem like a whole bunch of theatre, but with a murder-a-minute, (not really, it just seems like it) Richard lll is a well-paced show, thanks in large part to director Christopher Brauer. His version is a modern twist that echoes some of the sensibilities of today’s reality shows of the rich and useless.

Although not as strong as the first, the second half of the production is short and sufficiently dramatic as the evening darkens and Richard gets his richly just desserts.
Royal soap operas don’t get much better than this. Indulge your bloodthirst with Shakespeare in the Ruins’ production of Richard lll.


Winnipeg production first in Canada to cast disabled actor in Richard III

By Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press Posted: Jun 04, 2016, randall.king@freepress.mb.ca  Twitter: @FreepKing

Subtitled on its poster as “a disability revenge play,” the Shakespeare in the Ruins’ production of Richard III casts Winnipeg actor Debbie Patterson as Richard, a physically misshapen royal scion employed as a secret weapon in the battle between the Lancaster and York families.

Directed by Christopher Brauer, this iteration of Richard is the first in Canada (and possibly the first anywhere) to cast a disabled actor as the disabled monarch. Patterson, a longtime member of the SIR troupe, has been living with multiple sclerosis for years. The canes she employs to walk in the play are her own.

Local actor Debbie Patterson, who has multiple sclerosis, plays Richard III.

Hence, Patterson is not obliged to “crip up” for the role as an able-bodied actor might. She plays the hunchbacked king straight up, “determined to prove a villain” upon the coronation of Edward IV (Arne MacPherson) to divide and conquer the royal house.

Typically, Richard has been presented with the understanding that the twistedness of his physical form (“cheated of feature by dissembling nature”) is a manifestation of a twisted morality. Brauer reverses that premise, proceeding under the assumption that Richard has always been treated as the family attack dog, and his subsequent fiendish machinations represent a lashing-out at his family for, if nothing else, fatally underestimating him.

Subtly altering Richard’s motivations engenders some sympathy for this devil. But a devil, he still remains, and Patterson relishes portraying Richard’s exuberant knavery as addressed directly to the audience. See Richard astonished at his own powers of persuasion when he successfully courts Anne (Toni Reimer) — though he himself killed both Anne’s husband and her father-in-law. See him comfort his Tower of London-bound brother Clarence (Andrew Cecon) in one scene, only to heartlessly engineer his murder later. See Patterson’s face light up upon Richard’s discovery of a confederate in the treacherous Buckingham (a slick Omar Alex Khan) in a display of conspiratorial glee.

Of course, “conspiratorial glee” is the operating premise of Shakespeare in the Ruins as audience members are obliged to move from place to place in the sprawling brick shell structure of St. Norbert’s Trappist Monastery in the theatre’s “promenade” style of performance. It creates a certain sense of camaraderie between audience and cast, ideally. This reviewer did hear one or two muttered complaints opening night, which was a little rich given the admirable way Patterson powered her way through the show with nary a sign of diminished energy. (Ever tried navigating a wheelchair over gravel?)

Patterson has solid support, with others in the cast doing double- or triple-duty, notably Andrew Cecon (murdered twice as both Clarence and Rivers), Sarah Constible (icily officious as Hastings, and homicidally ingratiating as the hired killer Ratcliff) and Tracey Nepinak as the deposed queen Margaret, imperious and bloodthirsty. Cherissa Richards makes the dramatic most of the tragedy-prone Queen Elizabeth, and much of the comic relief falls on the capable shoulders of Toby Hughes, who plays Richard’s emissary Catesby, for example, with a subtle underlay of the wilfully clueless corporate functionary.

Richard III is the second-longest of Shakespeare’s plays, after Hamlet, but this production fares fine with a judicious trim that runs roughly two-and-a-half hours with intermission.

Bring a sweater. As with the play’s abundant treachery, the evenings can elicit a chill.


A fresh look at a king’s story
Shakespeare in the Ruins presents Richard III

By Danielle Da Silva. The Sou’wester. Posted: 05/24/2016 10:52 AM. Facebook.com/TheSouwesterWPG  Twitter: @SouwesterWPG

Traditional readings of Shakespeare’s Richard III often posit the troubled, hunchbacked king as evil manifest but a local production of the play is hoping to flip the script on that assumption.

Directed by Christopher Brauer and starring Debbie Patterson as Richard, Shakespeare in the Ruins’s (SIR) reimagining of the classic tragedy challenges notions of disability in both the contemporary and historical context. Debbie Patterson stars in Shakespeare in the Ruins’ production of Richard III at the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park from June 1 to 25.

Patterson said she felt a personal responsibility to take on the role of Richard.

Known for her one-woman show Sargent & Victor & Me, Patterson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 18 years ago. While she is feeling “even-keeled,” the MS has made mobility challenging and she has to use forearm crutches to get around.

“When I first started to lose my ability to walk, I started to limp and I couldn’t control it; I thought I had to stop acting all together because I didn’t know any actors with disabilities and all my training as an actor was very physically demanding,” she explained.

Patterson said perceptions of disability are skewed because of the lack of representation in the arts and media, and it’s her mission to keep acting.

“It’s something that I really wanted to do because I’m living with a disability, and there aren’t a lot of actors with disabilities, almost none, working in the country now,” she explained. “So I felt it was really important for this play to be done with an actor with a disability in the title role.”

While the recent discovery of Richard III’s remains in England and his re-entombment in Leicester Cathedral has once again brought the story to the forefront, Brauer says SIR’s performance is exciting because they believe it is the first professional production in Canada to have a disabled actor as the lead.

“The way Shakespeare wrote the play, and the way it’s typically done is based on the notion that a physical disability is a manifestation of a spiritual disability,” Brauer said.”That was an unacceptable approach for us.”

Instead, the production will explore the layers of disability: the physical impediment, and the world and culture that contributes to the severity of the experience, Brauer explained. The nature versus nurture binary is laid out for the audience as they meet a character who is born honest, sensitive, genuine, and cultured but who has been shot down by the world over the years.

“We’re taking a cultural idea of the disabling effect of the people in the world, and he’s teaching them a lesson,” Brauer said. “The way we’ve tried to manage it is by manifesting the relationships where we see how Richard is treated. We’re playing with how Richard is treated or sort of impeded by the people around him.”

While the role is challenging, Patterson said she’s looking forward to performing Shakespeare, something she hasn’t done for a while, and changing attitudes towards disability in the arts.

“It’s time for able-bodied actors to stop cripping up,” she said. “I don’t think there are enough or adequate representations of disabilities in our culture, and I think that increases people’s fear of disability.”

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