Shakespeare Made in Canada is a series of editions of Shakespeare’s plays with a national focus. A testament to the University of Guelph’s commitment to the dissemination of research on the arts in Canada, and in particular to the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project run since 2004 by Guelph professor Daniel Fischlin, the series aims to celebrate “Canadians doing Shakespeare for over 150 years” … and to provide teaching texts for Canadian undergraduate students. Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest, the first editions in the series, advance these commemorative and pedagogical aims imaginatively…. Each includes a preface by a Canadian playwright involved with an adaptation of the play as well as an introduction by a leading Canadian scholar. In addition to a play-text complete with original new annotation for students, each edition contains a plethora of pedagogical aids that are sure to make this series popular among undergraduates in particular.
"Hamlet is bottomless, deep beyond our capacity to compass, navigating the most guarded mysteries of our lives." --Paul Gross
Shakespeare's longest and perhaps most influential play probes the darkest reaches of human life: despair, powerlessness, uncertainty, and mortality, as well as the larger political issues of corruption, iniquity, and treason. Daniel Fischlin's groundbreaking introduction explores not just the workings of the play itself but also how the spectral presence of Hamlet in Canada speaks to ineffable questions of political identity, uncertainty, and longing for right actions. From productions of Hamlet at Stratford to Robert LePage's Elsineur and Yves Sioui Durand/Jean-Frederic Messier's Hamlet-le-Malecite, Hamlet seems to be a ghost haunting the Canadian collectivity, as undead as the ghost of Hamlet's father. As Fischlin observes, the struggle to read the world--a spectral world capable of ghosts and hauntings but also a material world of corruption and evil--makes Hamlet's effort to take a righteous course of action profoundly tragic.
In an age of power politics, Donald Trump and ethical depravity, Macbeth remains one of the most compelling dramas of overwhelming political ambition in the English language. The events that follow Macbeth's "ambition without conscience" can still shock a modern audience. A preface by playwright Judith Thompson reveals her own troubled interaction with the play. Professor Daniel Fischlin's compelling introduction explores key topics in Macbeth; his research into the play's production history also reveals some fascinating Canadian connections to Macbeth that take us into a world of political ambition, corruption and assassination.
A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Shakespeare's popular comedy probes both the light and the dark side of desire, as unseen beings manipulate individual perceptions in the forest beyond the civilized world. Andrew Bretz's thought-provoking introduction to the play reminds us of the early modern concept of fairies: far from the ethereal creatures of the Victorian imagination, we see them here as amoral, energetic, and dangerous. While fairies may have come and gone in the course of 150 years of Canadian productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, this edition highlights how performances in Canada and elsewhere in the world have embraced the multitude of possibilities inherent within this uncanny "shaping fantasy."
Romeo and Juliet:
Overpowering adolescent passion at odds with a troubled adult world: this ancient tale was never more grippingly told than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where two youths come together in a love that is both transformative and death-marked. The society around them lacks flexibility, failing to govern this destabilizing energy. Shakespeare scholar Jill L. Levenson—whose work on this play has opened new readings of Romeo and Juliet internationally—shows how the play’s treatment of gender, class, sexuality, and political fragmentation has found rich resonance in Canada. There are a variety of surprisingly creative adaptations not just in French and English but also, for example, in French and Attikamek. From ballet to Ann-Marie MacDonald’s award-winning play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), Romeo and Juliet remains a compelling exploration of passion and violence.
Europeans collide with an unknown new world in this curious play, filled with magic, corruption, intrigue, lust, and full-on comedy. Written and staged around 1610, The Tempest reflects a contemporary fascination with those mysterious and foreign parts of the world newly available to European exploration and exploitation. How would old and new worlds interact? Few come off surrounded by virtue in Shakespeare’s drama. Daniel Fischlin—the ingenious creator of the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project—has written an excellent introduction that provides dark and delightful new ways to understand this play, including insights from Northrop Frye, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, and Normand Chaurette.