To grow, support and sustain an accessible, collaborative and relevant performing arts ecosystem anchored in community.


Shakespeare in Action is a professional theatre and arts education company that nurtures and develops the next generation of performing artists, arts workers, educators, and audiences through the exploration and performance of classical and contemporary stories that are relevant to our community. 

We accomplish this by:

Shakespeare in Action is a not-for-profit organization registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency:
Charity Registration Number: 12721 1571 RR0001

Shakespeare in Action operates under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Actors Equity Association, and is proudly a member of many professional organizations including TAPA.


For thirty-two years, Shakespeare in Action (SIA) has aspired to enhance the arts and education through exploring and performing Shakespeare’s plays: fostering literacy, enhancing creativity and promoting speech arts by making the language and stories of Shakespeare accessible and relevant to audiences of all ages.  We have accomplished this by presenting Canadian interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays for young audiences, and growing arts education outreach programs in schools, libraries and community centres.

In 2019, SIA became the resident professional theatre company at the new Artscape Weston Common in Toronto’s northwest.  As one of the few professional theatre organizations residing in this part of the city, we have begun to call Weston our permanent home and broaden our mandate to provide productions and learning opportunities that engage and reflect our community

As an area that has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, SIA has also pivoted our work during this pandemic to grow local partnerships and provide emergency support.  We began the Artists Supporting Community Initiative (ASCI) which provides paid opportunities for out of work artists to assist emergency frontline agencies (food delivery for seniors, food prep, etc), as well as piloting free Pop Up Programming in the summer 2020 and 2021 for low-income youth where internet access is a barrier. 

Inspired by some of the work and partnerships we engaged in over the pandemic, SIA changed our vision and mission toward growing a performing arts ecosystem anchored in community in 2021.

Brief History:

SIA produces two world premieres: 3TEMPESTS and NONA’S MALAIKA; begins BACKSTAGE CENTRE technical skills training program for BIPOC, newcomer, and 2SLGBTQ+ youth

David di Giovanni appointed AD of SIA; pilot ASCI, 6ixSummerPopUps, and partner to co-produce ALPHONSE in the Park, one of Toronto’s first in-person professional play since COVID shut down theatres in March

SIA moves to Weston, launches “Shakespeare in the Shell” in Memorial Park, launches Performing Arts Network

SIA launches interactive touring “Macbeth in Action” to GTA schools

SIA partners with  Canadian Stage for summer camp

SHAKESPEARE MEETS HIP HOP: SIA begins touring innovative new program.

THE FIRST ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE: fundraiser involving members of the non-theatre community.

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK: Mainstage production at JCC Miles Nadal Theatre

SIA moves to Central Toronto Academy. 

TD SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS LIBRARY CLUB: in association with Toronto Public Libraries

TD SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS LIBRARY CLUB: in association with Toronto Public Libraries

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Mainstage production at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDZ SUMMER PROGRAM: Summer program for children from 7-12 begins

SHAKESPEARE GOES TO KINDERGARTEN: A program for K-6 is launched, covered by Global TV.


MICHAEL KELLY retires after 32 seasons  “to make room for the next generation” and DAVID DI GIOVANNI is appointed as Artistic Director, effective April 1, 2020. Bringing with him a commitment to inclusion, learning, and a burning question: what does it mean to be a Shakespeare company at Weston and Lawrence? 

The COVID-19 pandemic leads to a shift in programming. 6ix Summer Pop Ups is created; a free pop-up initiative aiming to provide programming for children and youth in York South Weston. The Tempest Summer Story Workshop and the Digital Summer Story Club are held over zoom to continue programming remotely during quarantine.

SIA announces the Artists Supporting Community Initiative (ASCI), with the support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Toronto Foundation. ASCI pairs out-of-work artists with paid opportunities to support emergency frontline relief efforts in the York South-Weston community.

Initiated Performing Arts Network (PAN) delivering free workshops to over 1,500 Northwest Toronto school-aged children and youth. Moved into new studio-home at ARTSCAPE WESTON COMMON and delivered inaugural performance in their Rockport Performance hall with a four DORA nominated production of “Suddenly Shakespeare.” Presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream for inaugural year of SHAKESPEARE IN THE SHELL at Little Avenue Memorial Park in Weston. 

MACBETH IN ACTION launches new interactive Guerilla Shakespeare Series

SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS SUMMER CAMP IN HIGH PARK in partnership with Canadian Stage and Shakespeare in High Park 

Shakespeare in Action leaves Central Toronto Academy

SHAKESPEARE MEETS HIP-HOP tours innovative presentation across GTA and SIA performs Mainstage production of HAMLET at Central Toronto Academy

The first annual SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE fundraiser and SIA performs Mainstage ROMEO AND JULIET at CTA

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK: Mainstage production at JCC Miles Nadal Theatre

Shakespeare in Action becomes an Artist Company in Residence at Central Toronto Academy (CTA) in the Toronto District School Board. Performs remounted production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and launches Shakespeare Family Series production at Lillian H. Smith Library


“The eye catching production shines a gaudy and sometimes revealing new light on Macbeth”
Jon Kaplan, Now Magazine
TD SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS LIBRARY CLUB: in Association with Toronto Public Libraries. Children participate in a six-week workshop exploring the language of Shakespeare.

“The kids really enjoyed the library program. It really helped our son to be more literate and increased his speech arts.”                                                   
Beth Gibson, Paren
ARTISTS & THE COMMUNITY: SIA launches innovative program for schools, parents and volunteers that involves the whole school from kindergarten to grade six in the production of a Shakespeare play.

“This production of The Tempest gave all the children at Givins/Shaw a chance to participate regardless of background and religion.”

Karen Mackenna, Parent

EMPOWERING KIDS WITH SHAKESPEARE: Experiencing the creative process.

“Shakespeare is ‘a great point of departure that crosses over to dance, history, art and music, kids begin to fall in love with the language,’ says Kelly, ‘Romantic, invigorating, its empowering for kids of any age.’”                                                                                                                                             
Annemarie Brissenden, The Village Gleaner, Toronto

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Hit production critically acclaimed.

“A combination of clever staging and an inventive use of shadow play and puppets make it all possible.”                                                                         
Richard Ouzounian,The Toronto Star

SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDZ SUMMER PROGRAM: Summer program for children from 7-12

Critically acclaimed “innovative and fun” by C.B.C. As It Happens. “Your camp topped the charts, Jessie rated it 110 out of 100.”                                           
Marie Sheppard, Parent C.B.C


“Learning about the Bard was never this much fun.  Michael Kelly uses repetition, encouragement, pace and limitless energy, the end result after half an hour’s intensive workout: well, dramatic. This is how the director of Canadian-based Shakespeare in Action has passed his love of Shakespeare onto thousands of people around the world.”                                                                                                                                                                                 
Lynn Freeman The Herald, NZ 

LEARNING TO LOVE SHAKESPEARE: Interesting Canadians we’re glad we’ve met

“Michael Kelly, founder of Toronto’s Shakespeare in Action, believes that by experiencing Shakespeare kids learn some history while they design sets and costumes, some music while they figure out how to accompany their own performance and a whole lot of self-confidence when they realize they’ve tackled a playwright who has been known to terrify teachers.”                                                     
Cate Cochran, Canadian Living Magazine


“I gained new strategies and maybe even more important, renewed enthusiasm for teaching Shakespeare. Thank you.”                                           
Denise Graves, Teacher

MAIN STAGE PROGRAM SIA: Innovative production of Romeo & Juliet.

“Why has this company been kept away from the public for so long when they do such interesting work?’’                                                 
Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

DEMYSTIFYING THE BARD: Learn Shakespeare by doing Shakespeare.

“Student actors are cracking the language barrier to see how he uses it to address important human questions”                                         
Bill Henry, The Sun Times


“At schools all across Southern Ontario something special is happening. Shakespeare is coming to class in a way he never did before.”               
Rita Tonnelli Global TV, Kids Beat


“Smart actors have found a way to teach Shakespeare with action.”                         
Eric Malling, W5

Shakespeare in Action is founded by Michael Kelly

“The program is innovative, improvisational, flexible.”     
Bill Taylor, The Toronto Star