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Rodrigo Beilfuss

'At SIR we are unique; we get to embody these old stories and speak some of the most gorgeous language ever created for the Theatre, and it at a very eerie and wonderful and dynamic open-air venue.”

Nik Rave

Joe Szekeres

Here’s the link to my first check-in with Rodrigo Beilfuss when you know what was skyrocketing three years ago:

I still haven’t had the opportunity to speak with him through Facebook, Zoom, or a phone call in these last three years. I saw his work on stage over seven years ago at the Stratford Festival and a couple of telefilms in which he appeared.

But that’s it.

That’s gonna change. It’s time to say hello in person to the six-year Shakespeare in the Ruins Artistic Director. And might there be a trip to the Peg to see what’s coming up on the SIR grounds?

I certainly hope so.

Rodrigo is a family man. He is a husband and father first and foremost, and that’s top in my books.

I’ve enjoyed his social media posts as he allows his followers to check in on his work running a theatre company and snippets of his daily life as a dad. Some of these snippets are hilarious, and others are touching, especially when Beilfuss quotes his children's responses to daily life in and outside the house.

Since Rodrigo and I emailed three years ago during Covid, he and his wife had their daughter, who is now three. He says those circumstances from the pandemic and the birth of his daughter have made his life richer. Two very hands-on kids (he and his wife also have an eight-year-old son) have forced him and his wife to prioritize more efficiently. He calls his children wonderful, bright, and incredible. He praises his wife, who: “is so much better at everything about ‘real life’ than me.”

But he’s also realistic in his approach to daily life:

“Some days are great, some days are terrible…But there’s no ‘quiet time’. It’s all very loud and busy and germy. Mondays, I sit at my computer in my office, and I just go: “What the fuck was that all about?”

Beilfuss handles the challenges with a way that makes him comfortable:

“Bit by bit, I go through emails, drink my coffee, and try to make myself believe that this is all heading towards a wonderful, splendid, serene place of common understanding, peace, and pleasure. One day at a time.”

He believes he has less guilt now compared to three years ago, but he still totally abuses himself when it comes to his work.

Why would Rodrigo say this?

“What sort of intrigues me is that I’ve never, ever, heard of a “happy artistic director”. No one who takes on this position in theatre ends up nostalgic for it once they leave the job – it always leaves you burnt out in the end. It’s strange that way. It says a lot about our industry.”

He is the first to point out he loves his job, but he is weary over some things that have been normalized over the last few years. After six years, he can finally start shaping the responsibilities in a way that serves him well and protects his mental health. As Artistic Director, Rodrigo has achieved a place where the ground is still severely unstable but is now better at dealing with it. There is less apology and less flowery in the talk about how complicated and nebulous the theatre sector feels right now.

Recently, I’ve checked in with other artistic directors to see how they’re faring with changes in their various companies. In some cases, it is full steam ahead, but the funding must be in place. Rodrigo is also experiencing the same thing. Writing grants and securing as much funding as possible still appears to be the order of the day:

“My main concern now is all about securing as much funding as possible from the sources available to us, so that we can guarantee fair pay for all the freelancers that we hire.”

Two productions will play in repertory this year, alternating on selected dates between June 6 and July 7, 2024.

The first is Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ The second is Daniel Macdonald’s ‘Iago Speaks’, a new work in this second production billed as a comic sequel to Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Othello.’ According to the SIR website, this upcoming season embraces the theme of TRANSFORMATION … which celebrates our ability to adapt, surrender to magic and storytelling, and ultimately change—as individuals and communities.

Beilfuss has full confidence in the Art and what he calls the ‘thing’ offered. The pride for SIR emanates from his words:

“We are unique; we get to embody these old stories and speak some of the most gorgeous language ever created for the Theatre, and we do it at a very eerie and wonderful and dynamic open-air venue. I just want to make sure we can keep communicating how valuable and worthy of support our work is.”

When any theatre company is headed toward that wonderful release of Opening Night, an actor recognizes that clarity in meeting the audience. For any artist, there’s no feeling like it.

The SIR pictures of that open-air venue online are making me want to go to Winnipeg even more. You’re selling me more and more on the idea, Rodrigo.

He also spoke about one of the company’s improvements. Everyone has the weekend off, and no rehearsals are held on Saturdays or Sundays. But in Rodrigo’s opinion, SIR is still in the minority in not rehearsing on weekends.

Throughout the changes in the theatre industry on account of Covid, there has been talk about perhaps cutting back on the sometimes-long hours that can go into rehearsals and tech week before the show opens. Beilfuss doesn’t know what to say to those who are questioning the madness of committing oneself to this shifty trade of the theatre:

“Isn’t everything always unstable these days? Tell me one sector that’s like, “Yeah, man, we’ve got it all figured out, this is the best time ever!” As Hamlet says when holding Yorick, “To this favour we must come...” It’s all going to end, and AI is coming for us. Might as well go absolutely wild, follow your heart, and do something that turns you on in Life.”

As our email conversation concluded, I always asked artistic leaders where they see themselves in the next proverbial five-year time frame. I could almost hear a laugh coming from Rodrigo when he said: “Well, damn, I’ve honestly no idea.”

But his honest response to what he does know intrigued me as he continues to move forward in his career as an artist and a leader. It doesn't work out whenever he tries to make plans and push for something he thought wholeheartedly that he wanted and needed. Instead:

“The best, most surprising, and most rewarding experiences I’ve had often came from things that just appeared in my Life. So, the trick is to remain open and curious. Stay curious, as Ted Lasso says. If you’re open and curious, things show up, and you go, “Hm...shall I give that a go?! Maybe I will.”

I want to sit down, have a beer with this guy, and talk even more about the connections between theatre and life.

I also think I will go to Winnipeg to see ‘Midsummer’ and ‘Iago Speaks’ because I’m also open to going anywhere, anytime, to learn more about the theatre industry.

To learn more about Rodrigo Beilfuss, visit his website:

To learn more about Winnipeg’s Shakespeare in the Ruins, visit and their Facebook page.

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