All the world’s a… movie theatre

SiR’s pandemic-inspired feature film Macbeth nominated for prestigious Welsh award


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When the pandemic took live theatre away, Shakespeare in the Ruins took the Bard to the movie theatre instead.

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When the pandemic took live theatre away, Shakespeare in the Ruins took the Bard to the movie theatre instead.

In the fall of 2020, the innovative outdoor theatre company, which performs annually at the Trappist Monastery Park, was looking for a way to stay busy while audiences stayed home.

“We were in limbo,” artistic director Rodrigo Beilfuss recalls.

That’s when troupe members Sarah Constible and Michelle Boulet made a fateful pitch: to capture Macbeth as a feature film, shot in black and white. Constible and Boulet didn’t want to simply shoot a stage production; they wanted the company to use the film medium to its fullest capacity.

Blackfriar productions

Julie Lumsden plays Lady Macbeth in Shakepeare in the Ruins’ feature film version of the Bard’s tragedy.

Nearly three years later, that creative gambit has been rewarded: the resulting film has been nominated for best feature film at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in Wales.

The as-yet-unreleased film’s early success, says Beilfuss, highlighted the creative thinking required of theatre professionals during the lockdown portions of the pandemic. Being unable to perform in a “normal” capacity gave Shakespeare in the Ruins an impetus to expand its reach and to take advantage of avenues it had yet to explore.

By necessity and in a bit of desperation, the company embarked on a month-long shoot in and around Winnipeg in October 2020, with a cast of more than 30 local stage actors, including Ray Strachan (Macbeth) and Julie Lumsden (Lady Macbeth). Cherissa Richards, Arne MacPherson, Debbie Patterson, Gabe Daniels, Tobias Hughes, Olaoluwa Fayokun, Andrea del Campo, Hera Nalam and Melissa Langdon round out the cast for the ambitious project. Boulet and Constible co-directed.

Produced by Beilfuss, Boulet, Constible and Lisa Nelson-Fries, the Macbeth adaptation was the kind of project nobody expected to do, but everyone can be glad was done.

“It was a real labour of love,” says Beilfuss, who also appears in the film, alongside his children. “A great permanent record of wonderful local actors” available “for all time.”

The film is screening online at from Wednesday to Sunday.

Blackfriar Productions

Macbeth (Ray Strachan) contemplates the dagger.

Beilfuss says production of Shakespeare in the Ruins’ film was already well underway before the company caught wind of director Joel Coen’s own black-and-white adaptation, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. That film, The Tragedy of Macbeth, was a critical success, bringing a new audience to one of Shakespeare’s most enduring tragedies.

The Coen version was nominated for three Academy Awards but was shut out at last year’s Oscars ceremony.

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Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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