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Trevor Jablonowski and his friends – mostly fellow University of Toronto theatre grads – think the bard gets a bum rap from students and even from their fellow grown-ups.

“We’re a bunch of theatre kids. We love theatre, and we always run into people who groan and roll their eyes and say, ‘I hated that in high school’,” he said.

One evening while out for a drink, a friend pitched the idea of using new technology to make Shakespeare more accessible and better understood. After all, as Jablonowski said, there’s a reason these plays are still performed hundreds of years after they were written.

“Shakespeare wrote this stuff for performance. There is beauty and wonder in there,” he said, emphasizing that the plays were not intended to be read out of a book.

And so, Shakespeare At Play was born. The iOs app (an Android version is in the works) allows students or anyone else to watch a video performance of a full play while the text scrolls underneath the video window.

A screenshot shows Trevor Jablonowski in the Video Edition of MacBeth, part of the Shakespeare At Play app.

A screenshot shows Trevor Jablonowski in the Video Edition of MacBeth, part of the Shakespeare At Play app.

Jablonowski, who acts in the plays as well as producing them, said the app is intended to help teachers incorporate modern technology into the classroom and enhance the curriculum, not replace it. He pointed out that technology has come a long way since his high school days, which involved Coles Notes and VHS tapes of British actors doing stuffy performances of the bard’s work.

An audio introduction to each scene with scholar Noam Lior is available. A glossary of terms, words and phrases and their meanings at the time the play was written pops up when the words are selected in the text. And, of course, the performances are of the unabridged version of each play.

“We film the entire play, without cutting a thing,” said Jablonowski. “It’s now developed into an unofficial theatre company.”

Shakespeare At Play currently offers Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth and Hamlet. Talks are underway for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and version 2.0 of the app is awaiting Apple approval for distribution through iTunes.

Two other Beachers are also involved in the project. Web designer David Kamnatnik built the website, while Norbert Horvath is the chief technical officer.

The app and text of the plays are free to download. The Notes Edition for the three current plays are $1.99 each, while the Video Edition is an additional $1.99. For more information on Shakespeare At Play, visit shakespeareatplay.ca or find the app on the iTunes store.

Dr. Mark Dilworth, a veterinarian from the Beaches Animal Hospital, was given the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s Award of Merit on Jan. 30.

Dr. Mark Dilworth

Dr. Mark Dilworth

Dr. Dilworth was recognized by his clients for his outstanding commitment to helping animals in need, as well as his longstanding work with rescue organizations. He has helped hundreds of dogs and cats through his work with rescue groups.

Dilworth spent the first few years of his career splitting his time between a 24-hour emergency vet clinic and the Ontario SPCA. He moved to Beaches Animal Hospital in 2004, and became an owner a year later. The clinic runs its own adoption program, and provides service to clients through the People with AIDS Foundation.

Noelle Georgeff operates Teenage Tutors, an ideal venture to combine her passions for business and for nurturing young adults.

The business pairs Grade 11 and 12 honour roll students with children in elementary school to help with homework, offering quality jobs for high school students. The service has proved so popular that Georgeff is planning expansion, hoping to connect even more students.

Teenage Tutors currently operates in the Beach, Riverdale and Leaside. For more information on the service visit theteenagetutors.com.

eob-teen tutors-image

PHOTO: Submitted

Kari Svenneby, a Beach mom and founder of the grassroots Active Kids Club, has produced a set of safety reflectors in fun shapes that kids and parents can hang on jackets, backpacks, or dog collars. Safety Reflector

Svenneby grew up in Norway, where such reflectors are common, and said in Finland they are now required for kids and adults walking by roads in winter.

“Pedestrians here in Toronto have it really bad, especially when you see the statistics in the winter months,” she said.

The reflectors, which can be seen at a distance of 140 metres when lit by headlights, can be purchased online at activekidsclub.com.

Beer lovers in the East End proved they’re excited about the prospect of a new local microbrewery, after an open house drew huge crowds to what is basically, at present moment, an empty warehouse.

Left Field Brewery is operated by husband and wife team Mark and Mandie Murphy, who live near Coxwell and Danforth Avenues. Currently their beer is brewed under contract at Grand River Brewing Company in Cambridge, but an open house on Feb. 22 showcased the space that will eventually house their brewing equipment on Wagstaff Drive, off Greenwood between Gerrard Street East and Danforth Avenue.

Mandie and Mark Murphy, owners of Left Field Brewery, are seen at their recent open house. PHOTO: Robin LeBlanc

Mandie and Mark Murphy, owners of Left Field Brewery, are seen at their recent open house.
PHOTO: Robin LeBlanc

“Right now our number one priority is getting the brewery up and running,” said Mandie. “Our challenge is having the capacity to produce the amount of beer we have demand for.”

The couple have been planning Left Field for years, based on a love of beer born of home brewing. Mark was a chartered accountant, but gave up that career to graduate from Niagara College’s inaugural brewing program before gaining experience with one of Canada’s biggest brewers. Mandie took a job with a wine marketing firm to learn the ins and outs of getting a beverage to the public. Both, if you hadn’t guessed from the name, are big baseball fans. Left Field’s website is full of metaphors from the game, and the store even includes a Left Field Brewery baseball cap and an old-fashioned pennant.

For the time being, their beer is only available on tap in Toronto, along with a few select spots in Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.

“We’re trying to keep it as local as possible,” said Mandie, pointing out that as the only employees, she and Mark are responsible for everything from marketing to actually delivering kegs.

In the East End, Left Field can be found on tap regularly at The Wren and Morgan’s, both on Danforth a bit east of the Greenwood subway station, Relish, just east of Danforth and Woodbine, and occasionally on cask at Castro’s and the Ceili Cottage. Though there is no shortage of pubs serving craft beer in the east, there’s a decided lack of breweries, especially compared to the West End of Toronto, which is home to several.

“We feel like the area is looking for something like this, and needs something like this,” said Mandie. “We’re really excited to bring craft beer to the neighbourhood we love so much.”

For more on the brewery, visit leftfieldbrewery.ca.

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