Tom Patterson Theatre
Thursdays, July 3 to August 28
9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and special guests lead discussions on themes of the season.
Plays Are the Semblance of Reality
Thursday, July 24
The Greek playwright Menander was credited with wondering, “Life? Art? Which is which?” How does art imitate life and vice versa? The central tension of theatre is the fine line between illusion and reality. Although the actors carry the primary responsibility, the art of stagecraft plays a major role in maintaining that tension. An exploration of this issue and how the productions this season navigate the balancing act can help us understand how we, the audience, have an important role to play in maintaining the illusion or accepting its destruction.
A Question of Identity
Thursday, July 31
“Who is it that can tell me who I am?” asks King Lear, who has believed that his socially constructed role defined him. Unlike Lear, Christina in Christina, The Girl King honours her authentic self in abdicating her throne. Cleopatra chooses death in order to be true to herself (or is she)? The Bastard in King John wears whatever identity is offered. Socially constructed roles and our inner sense of identity are often at odds. Do the playwrights this season offer us any guidance in resolving this tension?
Marriage: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Thursday, August 7
Oscar Wilde suggested that since “one should always be in love, one should never marry.” Some of the plays this season seem to support his suggestion. Antony marries Octavia for political expediency and then returns to Egypt and the arms of Cleopatra. In The Beaux’ Stratagem, marriage is an opportunity to acquire wealth and, once married, a miserable existence like Lady Sullen’s. In Hay Fever, the marriage of Judith and David Bliss has become a fractious one. Does love, as Judith Bliss suggests, “wear a little thin” within the confines of marriage or do the other pragmatic reasons for marrying cause the unhappy outcomes?
“Love is merely a madness.”
Thursday, August 14
Romantic love informs many of the plays on this season’s playbill. Antony, in Antony and Cleopatra, abandons reason for passion. The lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream indulge their emotions and then attempt to rationalize their bizarre behaviour. Crazy for You, Man of La Mancha and The Beaux’ Stratagem all contain lovers acting irrationally. Plato, a disciple of reason, claimed that “the madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings.” Was he right, or is reason the best guide to the good life?
Minds Pushed to the Edge
Thursday, August 21
In this special edition of Talking Theatre, Antoni Cimolino is joined by Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for a discussion centred on the Shakespeare offerings on the playbill and the extreme thoughts and emotions presented within them.
War: Organized Insanity for Power and Profit
Thursday, August 28
In Mother Courage and Her Children, Bertolt Brecht suggests that war is a profit venture where money becomes more important than human beings. In King John, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra power politics lead to unnecessary conflicts and needless death. Is our seemingly insatiable hunger for wealth and power the reason for the continuation of war? Are we doomed to repeat the pattern no matter the predictable outcome?