Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
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Streaming Audio

Mask and Mirror
Loreena McKennit - The Mask and Mirror

In Streaming Audio we have archived a number of songs and audio clips of Shakespearean adaptations written and performed by Canadians. Loreena McKennitt sings Prospero's last speech from The Tempest. Other songs on Shakespearean themes are performed by Humphrey and the Dumptrucks and The Williams, a Guelph-based band devoted to performing original songs based on Shakespeare plays. Here, you'll also find, among others, a clip from Stratford's veteran actor Brian Bedford's one-man production The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet, clips from noted French-Canadian adaptor and actor Jean-Louis Roux, and a number of audio samples from adaptations in which audio effects play an important role. For recent 2010 work (done by graduate students in a course on transcultural Shakespeare taught by Dr. Fischlin) on Shakespeare and Popular Music, including a September 2010 Conference on the topic featuring a keynote talk by Dr. Adam Hansen, English professor at Northumbria University in Newcastle England and author of Shakespeare and Popular Music (Continuum 2010), click on the hyperlinks.

You will require Windows Media Player to listen to these audio clips; visit to download the player for free.

Newer audio additions to the CASP multimedia archives have been posted in Quicktime format. Where noted, these clips will require Quicktime Media Player; visit to download this player for free.

CASP gratefully acknowledges the permission of the various artists found here to upload clips of their work.

Table of Contents:


Audio Installation / Experimental:

  • Tongues in Trees (2007) Dawn Matheson
    Dawn Matheson's exhibit, Tongues in Trees, was an outdoor installation as a part of the Shakespeare-Made in Canada Festival. For the piece, seven adult learners from Action Read Guelph selected a Shakespearean monologue that best described their lives, and then performed them in their own unique way. This audio installation pares down the Shakespearean text to a level of open expression that can be understood by all regardless of class, educational standing or ability.
  • "Ariel Fragments" for women's choir and 8-channel electroacoustics (2007) James Harley. Prominent Canadian experimentalist, Harley's take on the texts associated with the Ariel character from The Tempest––an evocative work of Shakespearean bricolage using text, musical fragments, and found sounds.
  • That the Sun Sucks Up (2005), Jacquelyn Brioux.
    Sonic artist Jacquelyn Brioux performs That the Sun Sucks Up, an adaptation of Caliban's presence in the Tempest. This modern-day interpretation uses a looming, distortion filled, chaotic ensemble of sounds that is reflective of Caliban's economic, social, culture and psychological pressures to conformity.


Music Performance:

  • John Beckwith's The Trumpets of Summer (1964); libretto by Margaret Atwood: A unique musico-poetic adaptation of Shakespeare by Canadian composer Beckwith, with a libretto, focused exclusively on Shakespeare's relation to Canada, written by a young Margaret Atwood. The piece was commissioned by the CBC to celebrate the quatercentenary of Shakespeare's birth.
  • Oscar Peterson Trio (1956)
    In 1956 Canadian jazz pianist extraordinaire performed live at the Stratford Festival and created a classic jazz trio recording. CASP is delighted to highlight the unique collaboration between Peterson and the Stratford Festival which produced an instant jazz classic. "Here's a jazz trio par excellence, making full use in 1956 of the setting's possibilities of airtight collaboration and shifting emphasis. Oscar Peterson and his classic trio-mates, Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass, heading straight at a lively selection, never hint that they might have liked a drummer along. The model, of course, is Nat King Cole's drumless trio, but Peterson also had been inspired by the rococo and rapid fire of Art Tatum. With breathtaking, huge-handed technique, he unerringly swings deep and high, with a profound sense of rootedness. Ellis and Brown never slouch. Ellis takes a star turn on "How About You?" while on "Swinging on a Star," Brown displays his own mastery and panache." --Peter Monaghan
  • "Unsung Heroes" is a musical romp through Shakespeare (2005) Paula Rosen  

Written for a children’s choir “Unsung Heroes” is narrated by three previously overlooked characters from the three Shakespeare plays: The Love-in-Idleness Flower in “ Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Gloucester’s Eyeball from “King Lear”, and Damn’d Spot from “Macbeth”.  Each provides a synopsis of their respective play, and introduces the songs that further propel the plot.  All three narrators lament that they feel underappreciated but, by the end of the play, receive their laurels.

  • Sonnet 29 by Rufus Wainwright
    In 2002 Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright was invited to participate in a fundraising project for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. The result was this contribution to the EMI compilation When Love Speaks.
  • Diane Nalini
    Jazz singer Diane Nalini set music to fifteen of Shakespeare's sonnets, poems and songs. The collection covers a wide array of music, from jazz, blues and funk, this fresh sound delivers the unchanged words of Shakespeare in a new and eloquent manner.
  • Lewis Melville

Multi-talented veteran of the Canadian indie scene, Melville's take on Romeo and Juliet in song demos.

  • Anna Russell
    Anna Russell
    Anna Russell

    Comedic performer and opera singer, Anna Russell, parodies Shakespeare in a satirical and operatic adaptation of Hamlet.
  • "Prospero's Speech" (1994), Loreena McKennitt.
    Loreena McKennitt sings Prospero's last speech of The Tempest (Epilogue1-20). This track is from The Mask and Mirror album. It is both haunting and beautiful.
  • From Dr. Teeth's Public Address System (2001), Mark McCutcheon.
    A DJ mix performed as a graduate seminar at the University of Guelph in October 2001, Dr. Teeth's Public Address System samples a number of audio clips that reference Romeo and Juliet.
  • Songs from What Ho! (2002), The Williams.
    The Williams, (Dave "William" Clark, Lewis "William" Melville, Richard "William" Gregory, Scott "William" Cameron, Blake "William" Howard), are a spinoff of the Woodchopper's Association, a Toronto-based free-style improv orchestra.
  • Shakespeare, Jazz, and Canada: The Ellington Connection
    Featuring audio clips from Duke Ellington’s album Such Sweet Thunder (1957), this brief discussion of jazz’s various treatments of Shakespeare highlights an interesting and complementary relationship, and Duke Ellington's Incidental Music for Shakespeare's Play Timon Of Athens (1963).


Songs for Stage:

  • As You Like It (2005), Stratford Festival of Canada
    Antoni Cimolino, Executive Director at the Stratford Festival enlisted the help of the Canadian Supergroup The Barenaked Ladies to compose the music for his 2005 production of As You Like It. Set in a ‘summer of love’ during the late 1960s, Cimolino sought a parallel between the themes in the play and the social and political issues of the decade.
  • Denmark and Elsinore (2002), Debora Lee Grant.
    Debora Lee Grant's unique adaptation of Hamlet combined a full soundtrack, with hip hop, trance, house and salsa beats, and a music video to create a diverse, aesthetic and multi media approach to Shakespeare.
  • Songs from Cruel Tears (1976), Humphrey and the Dumptrucks.
    These six songs from Ken Mitchell's Cruel Tears, a country and western adaptation of Othello, are performed by Humphrey and the Dumptrucks. They include "Jack's Soliloquy" and "Homemaker's Duet."
  • Arrogant Worms (1994).
    The Arrogant Worms are a Canadian comedy troupe who perform musical comedy that does not shy away from literate and witty writing combined with an energetic stage presence. CASP has collected two of their routines that address both Shakespeare and Canadian identity in the mode of gentle spoof.
  • From Rodeo and Julie-Ed (1999), Peter Skagen.
    This clip from Peter Skagen's theatrical dinner and dance adaptation of Romeo and Juliet introduces Julie-Edwina to the audience. Ferris then sings a song of devotion to Julie-Ed to the tune of "Copacabana."


Theatre / Archive Recordings:

  • From Henry IV Part 1 4.1 (1958), Stratford Shakespearean Festival.
    Douglas Rain
    Douglas Rain

    On the eve of battle Hotspur, played by Jason Robards Jr., and his companions learn that neither Northumberland nor Glendower will appear. Nevertheless, Hotspur remains heroically courageous. The recording was made by the Canadian Stratford Shakespearean Festival Company in 1958.
  • From MacHomer (1995), Rick Miller.
    Rick Miller performs Macbeth by impersonating the characters from The Simpsons. The clips include speeches by MacHomer "Is this a dagger which I see before me? Or a pizza?" (Macbeth 2.1), and Moe the Witch "Double, double, toil and trouble," (Macbeth 4.1).
  • From The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet (1995), Brian Bedford.
    Bedford performs his one-man show that explores the emotion and psychology behind Shakespeare the man, as well as Shakespeare the playwright.
  • Jean-Louis Roux: Clips from Le Drame du Roi Lear (1996) and "Translating Shakespeare into French: Enjoyment and Torture."
    The first clip from Jean-Louis Roux's Le Drame du Roi Lear begins in English with Lear's first speech in Act 1, scene 1. The narrator then switches to French to explain how he is adapting King Lear. The second clip details Roux's notions on translating Shakespeare into French from his lecture "Translating Shakespeare into French: Enjoyment and Torture," given March 28, 1998 as part of McGill University's Shakespeare Lecture Series.
  • South Park's Canadian Hamlet (2001), Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
    The kids from South Park travel to see Philip perform Hamlet (5.2) at the "Canadian Shakespeare Festival."



Disclaimer: This site has been designed with only non-commercial, academic uses in mind. Although every effort has been made to secure permission for materials uploaded on the CASP site, in some circumstances we have been unable to locate copyright holders. Links may be made to our site but under no conditions are the texts and images to be copied and mounted onto another site server. Researchers using the site should accredit it following standard MLA guidelines on how to do so. Correct citation of information from the site is as follows:

Fischlin, Daniel. Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project. University of Guelph. 2004. <>.

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