Antoni Cimolino is Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival and director of the 2015 productions of Hamlet and The Alchemist.
Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Mr. Cimolino graduated in 1984 from the University of Windsor’s School of Dramatic Art. He began his Stratford career in 1988 as an actor, playing such roles as Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1989), Claudio in Measure for Measure (1992), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1992) and Laertes in Hamlet (1994).
He began to direct for Stratford in the mid-1990s, winning acclaim for such productions as The Night of the Iguana, with Seana McKenna (1998); Twelfth Night, with William Hutt (2001); Love’s Labour’s Lost, with Brian Bedford (2003); King John, with Stephen Ouimette (2004); As You Like It, featuring original music by Barenaked Ladies (2005); Coriolanus, with Colm Feore and Martha Henry (2006); Bartholomew Fair, with Tom McCamus (2009); The Grapes of Wrath, with Janet Wright (2011); and Cymbeline, with Geraint Wyn Davies (2012).
In 2013, his first season as Artistic Director, Mr. Cimolino introduced the Stratford Festival Forum, a series of about 150 events designed to enhance the play-going experience by illuminating the themes of the plays and illustrating their relevance in today's world. That same season, he directed Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, with Tom McCamus and Scott Wentworth, and Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart, with Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna, a production that captured the public's imagination and was extended an unprecedented four times. His 2014 productions, both featuring Colm Feore, were George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem and Shakespeare’s King Lear, which became one of the top-selling Shakespeare productions in the Festival's history.
Among many other accomplishments in his previous roles as the Festival’s General Manager, General Director and Executive Director, Mr. Cimolino oversaw the successful launch of a stability fund and a $50-million endowment foundation, and also significantly improved the Festival’s infrastructure by leading the design, consultation and funding process for four major construction projects between 2002 and 2008, including the extensive renovation of the Avon Theatre and the creation of the Studio Theatre.
In 2014, he and current Executive Director Anita Gaffney announced an ambitious 10-year project to film Festival productions of all Shakespeare’s plays, with the first three – King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra – to be released in early 2015.
A champion of the arts and culture, Mr. Cimolino also serves as the National Chair of Culture Days, a nationwide celebration of arts and culture in Canada. He has initiated collaborations with several prestigious theatre companies, including Montreal’s Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, New York’s Lincoln Center and City Center, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Examples include the Festival’s 2006 production of Molière’s Don Juan, a co-production with Théâtre du Nouveau Monde that was presented in both French and English during its Stratford season and later transferred to Montreal, and 2004’s King Lear, which later transferred to New York, where it garnered two Tony nominations.
Mr. Cimolino is passionate about enriching the lives of others through the education and practice of the arts. His dedication to this cause led him to spearhead the Festival’s involvement in a joint project with CUSO, Canada’s international volunteer co-operation agency, to establish a performing arts and educational centre in the city of Suchitoto, El Salvador.
Now in his 28th season at the Festival, Mr. Cimolino is a respected artist and an influential leader in the global theatrical community.