What is Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) all about?
Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) is a professional Canadian theatre company that is best known for presenting Shakespeare outdoors in unique settings. For more than 20 years, SIR has specialized in creating accessible, entertaining productions in non-traditional settings, with a proud history of presenting both new plays, and old plays in new ways. We invest in the works of Shakespeare because, as the world’s greatest dramatist, his plays provide the greatest opportunities for theatre artists and audiences alike.
Our annual spring main stage production takes place in and amongst the Ruins of the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park in St. Norbert Manitoba. Our shows feature stunning sunsets, the wind on your face, and real ominous storm clouds threatening in the distance. This natural and ever changing backdrop creates a communal experience for the actors and audience, all of whom are in the heart of the action together.
Special moments from our shows stay with our audience for years. Stephano swam and sang his way through his iconic first entrance in our production of The Tempest; Lady Macbeth’s hand washing scene was hauntingly torch lit and placed her waist deep in the La Salle river; during the final moments of Antony & Cleopatra the heavens opened up and a rain of mourning poured on actors and audience alike.
Putting on great productions is only part of what SIR offers to Manitoba’s rich cultural landscape. SIR is unwavering in its commitment to help young people understand and truly experience the magic of theatre and Shakespeare. We have reached the minds and hearts of more than 100,000 youth through our dynamic, interactive provincial tours and student matinees. SIR also helps increase literacy rates and build community through our free inner-city programming for children and adults.
Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR) exists to spotlight the enduring power of classical theatre through the contemporary human experience.
We are relentless in our mission to keep the Bard fresh and engaged with the Present. And through Shakespeare’s infinite variety, we foster possibilities for exciting debate and vital cultural exchange that enhance our community.
Shakespeare in the Ruins, Inc. is a theatre company dedicated to:
- The production of plays, particularly the works of Shakespeare
- The creation/development/presentation of Shakespeare-adjacent new work
- The use of non-traditional casting and environmental staging
- Creating opportunities for the development and growth of theatre artists in Manitoba
- Engaging with and enhancing our community through outreach programs
As Manitoba’s premier classical company since 1993, SIR bears the responsibility of unearthing and reimaging texts that might otherwise be forgotten. Additionally, we aim to give Manitobans the opportunity to bring our own cultural trademark to the plays of that rich repertoire.
Moreover, SIR does more than put on plays: we give people a full sensory experience. Audiences don’t go to the Ruins exclusively to see Shakespeare: they want to explore the Trappist Heritage Park and feel inspired by the beauty of Nature. In our productions, the rich imagery of Shakespeare’s words meets the astonishing imagery of the surroundings. Indeed, it is through that unique combination that the company thrives in making Shakespeare our own.
SIR seeks to establish a genuine connection between performers and audiences, fostering a life-long love of theatre. Through the natural beauty of our landscape, and the cooperative effort involved in promenade staging, we are reminded of the value of community.
Our educational programming, comprised of student matinees and our Fall school tour, are paramount in the growth of our audience. Undoubtedly, exposure to the Arts at a young age is vital in a society. In a similar vein, we strive to provide access to marginalized groups through inner city workshops with at-risk youth, and Shakespeare in Stony Mountain – where inmates receive school credits for their efforts with us.
Finally, rather than providing an escape from current events, we centre our work inside the realities of our times; bridging the gap between Shakespeare and us; giving audiences a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of his works – as well as a really, really good time.