Returning to The Theatre Centre in Toronto, Shakespeare BASH’d is shifting gears from one of the most well-known Shakespeare plays to one of the least known or performed.
The Two Noble Kinsmen, a collaboration between playwrights Shakespeare and John Fletcher, explores many of the same themes we expect, including love, honour, and duty. But in this quirky play, those familiar topics are shown to us from new and unfamiliar perspectives, challenging expected ideas of gender, sexuality, romance, and ceremony.
Although it was written over four-hundred years ago, much of this play feels modern, as it explores a myriad of relationships, including same-sex love and attraction in some of the most overt ways of a play from this period.
BASH’d is embracing the collaborative origins of the play in every element of the process. This includes an open rehearsal process featuring continued room for conversation, inviting the cast to bring their full identities to the fold to explore how that reflects and informs their performances.
The collaborative theme extends to the design as well, with the music and costumes examining the relationship between the classic and modern, further highlighting that these explorations of love and gender have been going on for hundreds of years.
The production brings together an all-star cast of festival favourites and BASH’d regulars, under the direction of James Wallis (BASH’d Co-Artistic Director). Shaw Festival favourite Michael Man and Stratford star Emilio Vieira play the titular cousins Arcite and Palamon. Joined by Kate Martin as the object of their affection Emilia, BASH’d Co-Artistic Director Julia Nish-Lapidus as shunned lover the Jailer’s Daughter, Melanie Leon, and Jeff Yung 容海峯 as the royal Hippolyta and Theseus, Daniel Briere as the Jailer and Schoolmaster, and 郝邦宇 Steven Hao as Pirithous and the Wooer.
Rounding out the cast are: Jennifer Dzialoszynski, 賀美倫 Madelaine Hodges, and Breanne Tice as the Queens and others. And Joshua Browne, Tristan Claxton, and Le Truong as Countrymen, Knights, and others.
Since The Two Noble Kinsmen is too rarely performed, I wanted to learn more about it. As such, I spoke with the leads Michael Man and Emilio Vieira to discuss the play, their roles, and much more.
The Two Noble Kinsmen runs at the The Theatre Centre from January 25 to February 4, 2024. For show details and tickets, please visit shakespearebashd.com.