By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Ravi Jain, Christine Horne and Alex Bulmer
Directed by Ravi Jain
THERE'S MORE TO LOVE THAN MEETS THE EYE
They say that love is blind – and with blindness comes the freedom to open the mind’s eye to a world of limitless possibility. Likewise, the challenge of staging the world’s most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet, in a time of physical distancing brings with it the opportunity to explore modes of theatrical presentation that are both unexpectedly novel and as old as the art of storytelling itself.
Intended for blind, low-vision and sighted audiences alike, this radically reimagined version of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy invites you into an up-to-the-minute modern world of sound and music, a world that challenges the identities we construct when we use only our eyes, a world in which the entrenched hostilities of an older generation are challenged by the passions of young people who only want to love.
R+J is accessible to blind and low-vision audiences through an integrated audio description.
Approximate Runtime: One hour and 30 minutes no intermission.
2021: Lady Capulet, Tybalt in R + J. Second season. 2020: Richard III, All's Well That Ends Well and The Miser. Stratford (would-be) debut. Elsewhere (selected): Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Marina in Pericles, Phaedra in Hippolytus, Maybe Jane in The Yellow Wallpaper (York University); Bluebeard's Bride in The gruesome terror & most brave triumph of Bluebeard's Bride, Irma in The Madwoman of Chaillot (The Lunar Stratagem); Mary Anne Shad in Portraits Patterns Possibilities (Culchahworks); Fabiana Cunningham in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Lower Ossington Theatre). Training: MFA York University, Factory Mechanicals, Claude Watson Arts Program, Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. Awards: Edith Zacks Millman for Extraordinary Achievement in Performance (Queen's University). Online: @beckklloyd. Et cetera: Thanks, Mum.
2021: Benvolio in R + J. Second season. Elsewhere: Thriving Tree in SCANNER (Factory Theatre Wired); Angelina in Spirit Horse (Roseneath Theatre); Temina in Munschtime! (Young People's Theatre); Margaret in Fatty Legs (Xara Choral Theatre); Genevieve in Lullaby: Inside the Halifax Explosion (Eastern Front Theatre); Christine in Offensive Fouls (Neptune Theatre); Katarina in Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery (Neptune Theatre). Training: Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, George Brown Theatre School, Neptune Theatre Acting Conservatory. Online: firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @lisanasson. Et cetera: Lisa would like to thank her family for encouraging her imagination.
2021: Nurse in R + J. 13th season. Stratford: Coriolanus, Napoli Milionaria!, Twelfth Night, The School for Scandal, Tartuffe in Tartuffe, Breath of Kings, The Taming of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, Crazy for You, Man of La Mancha, Measure for Measure, Waiting for Godot, Wanderlust, Winter's Tale, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, All's Well That Ends Well. Elsewhere: Cyrano de Bergerac, Victory (Shaw Festival); The Wedding Party (Crow's Theatre/TIFT); Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Citadel); The Seagull, Someone Else (Crow's); My Mother's Feet (Munich); Hairspray (Toronto, Broadway); Hamlet (NAC); Roméo et Juliette (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan). Film/TV: CBC's This Is Wonderland; The Gilda Radner Story; The Day After Tomorrow; Murdoch Mysteries; Coroner. Awards: Two Gemini nominations; Dora Award, Outstanding Actor, 2013; Sterling Award, Best Actor, 2016.
2021: Co-adaptor and assistant director of R + J. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Prince Hamlet, Iceland (Why Not Theatre); Portia's Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Ruff); Tom at the Farm (Buddies); The Seagull (Crow's); Belleville (Company Theatre); Vimy, Farther West (Soulpepper); Between the Sheets (Nightwood); Andromache (Necessary Angel); Romeo and Juliet (Canadian Stage); The Turn of the Screw (DVxT); Miss Julie: Sheh'mah (KICK Theatre); Gorey Story (Thistle Project). Audio: First Métis Man of Odessa (Factory). Film: Robin & Mark & Richard III, Hyena Road, The Captive, Stories We Tell, The Stone Angel. TV: Hey Lady!, Malory Towers, Hudson & Rex, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Murdoch Mysteries, Saving Hope, Remedy, Republic of Doyle, Rookie Blue, Othello. Awards: Dora Award, Canadian Screen Award, Birks Diamond Tribute to Women in Film. Et cetera: Christine is a member of Shakespeare in the Ruff's incoming Collective Artistic Leadership.
2021: Production stage manager of the Festival Theatre Canopy. 25th season. Stratford: Shows include Chicago (interrupted by COVID), Billy Elliot, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Hello, Dolly!, The King and I and others. Elsewhere: Over 40 years as a stage manager in live entertainment including gala events, music concerts, opening ceremonies and fundraising events including A Christmas Carol for the Stratford Hospice. Over 25 years with the Canadian Opera Company as a stage manager; production stage manager and resident director of Jersey Boys, Toronto; 25 years as a singer/dancer and choreographer in Canadian theatre; associate director/choreographer to her mentor, Alan Lund. Et cetera: Love to Paul, daughters Stephanie and Jennifer, son-in-law Andrew, and her grandchildren, Kennedy, Koston and Connor. I am so grateful to be back at work.
Production support is generously provided by Dr. M. Lee Myers and by Catherine & David Wilkes.
Produced in collaboration with
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Pasyk
WAKING UP TO THE UNREAL WORLD
Spellbound lovers, quarrelling fairies, tradesmen with a fervour for amateur theatricals: they’re all mixed up together in the surreal world of Shakespeare’s great comedy of dreaming and desire.
This deep dive into the sometimes unsettlingly dark and dangerous realms of the subconscious famously culminates in a play within the play: a hilariously inept performance by Nick Bottom and his fellow would-be actors. But even as we laugh at the ham-fisted efforts of these “rude mechanicals,” we are won over by their
heartfelt belief in the power of the imagination.
Taking its cue from that insight, this production deploys the most fundamental techniques of theatrical art in a magically inventive staging of a play that is itself a celebration of the imagination at its most extreme.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Runtime: One hour and 37 minutes no intermission.
2021: Hermia, Snug, Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Second season. (Last year slated to play Jenna in Hamlet-911, Citizen in Richard III.) Elsewhere (selected): UnCovered: Notes from the Heart (Musical Stage Co.); Girl in Once (Segal Centre); Audrey in As You Like It, Phillipa in The Taming of the Shrew (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival); Andrea in Dark Vanilla Jungle (Blarney Productions); Halley in Armstrong's War (Theatre Network). Training: National Theatre School of Canada, Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. Awards: Two-time nominee - Sterling Award; three-time nominee - Edmonton Music Award; recipient of 2019 Montreal English Theatre Award for Lead Performance in a Musical & Emerging Artist; recipient of 2019 Shirley Banks Prize for Emerging Musical Theatre Artists. Other: Thanks to Mom & Dad & Toni (& Roxy) - for teaching me how to love & sing & laugh & pluck a goose. I love you.
2021: Puck, Egeus in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Sixth season. Stratford: As You Like It (Celia), The Hypochondriac, Alice Through the Looking-Glass (Alice), MND: A Chamber Play (Titania/Hermia), The Tempest (Miranda), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cabaret (Sally Bowles), Trojan Women, The Miracle Worker (Helen Keller). Elsewhere (selected): Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (first US national tour); Mother Night (59E59); If Sand… (NYMF Award); Wedding Party (Crow's/NAC/TIFT); Life After (Canadian Stage); Once (Dora Award - Mirvish); Children of God (Urban Ink/NAC); Bloodless (Theatre20); In the Next Room (Tarragon/RMTC); MND, Double Bill, Exit the King (Soulpepper); Assassins (Dora nomination - Birdland/TIFT); Mimi (Dora nomination - Tarragon); Shaw Festival (2003-2007). Film/TV: The Hot Zone, Frankie Drake, Dorothy's Secret, Jack in the Box, Murdoch Mysteries. Training: National Theatre School; The Actors Center, NYC. For Puck-eternal, Ian Watson. To be here. Is all.
2021: Demetrius, Quince, Mustardseed in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Second season. Stratford: Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona (Birmingham Conservatory). Elsewhere: Iago in Othello, Richard in Richard III, Sparkish in The Country Wife, Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art); Paul Bratter in Barefoot in the Park, Paul Verral in Born Yesterday (Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre); Henry Baskerville in Hound of the Baskervilles (Royal Canadian Theatre Co.); Young Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes (Chemainus Theatre Festival); Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (Victoria Shakespeare Society). Film/TV: Fragile Seeds (feature film), The Flash, Far Cry 4, Monkey Up, Cascadia, Ollie and Emma. Directing: Julius Caesar (New Image College, Vancouver). Training: Birmingham Conservatory, The London Academy of Dramatic Art (Masters with Distinction, Classical Acting). Et cetera: Jonathan dedicates this season to his family and in memory of his father.
2021: Helena, Flute, Moth in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Elsewhere: Audiobook narration for Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi (ECW Press); Bobbi in Hilda's Yard (Foster Festival); Ensemble in Towards Youth: A Play on Radical Hope (Project:Humanity/Crow's Theatre); 00 in The Wolves (Howland Company/Crow's); Abigail in A Christmas Carol (Grand Theatre); Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare in High Park); Spiker in James and the Giant Peach (Young People's Theatre); Ariel in The Tempest (Hart House Theatre). Training: Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, Factory Theatre Mechanicals, Toronto Fringe Theatre Entrepreneurs' Network Training, Randolph Academy for Performing Arts. Awards: Dora Award for The Wolves; Toronto Fringe Patron's Pick Award for All Our Yesterdays (AnOther Theatre Company). Et cetera: Thank you to my mighty Mum, dear sisters, sweet friends, far-flung family, amazing mentors, and The Talent House.
2021: Lysander, Snout, Cobweb in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Second season. Elsewhere: Taz in Samantha: A Concept Album, Set to Stage (Greenlight Theatre); Slightly in Peter Pan (Bad Hats Theatre); Dido in Dido, Queen of Carthage, directed by Peter Hinton (York University Theatre). Training: Birmingham Conservatory, 2019, 2021 (Stratford Festival); Acting Conservatory, York University, 2018 (BFA); Michael Gordon Shore, Role Development. Online: Instagram: @micah.woods. Et cetera: This is for my family. Thank you for your endless support!
2021: Hippolyta, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Third season. Bahareh was born in Iran and raised in Vancouver, BC, and is a Toronto-based actor. Selected theatre credits: An Ideal Husband, Julius Caesar and The Aeneid (Stratford); A Doll's House, Part 2 (Mirvish/RMTC); Cost of Living (Arts Club/Citadel); Shakespeare in Love (Citadel/RMTC); Unholy, HER2 (Nightwood); Salt-Water Moon (Why Not/Factory); Death of the King, Blood Wedding and Hallaj (Modern Times); Oil, Pomona, Moment and Bea (ARC); Le Placard, Les Zinspirés 2 (Théâtre Français); Kiss (Canadian Stage/Theatre Smash/ARC); Minotaur (YPT); The Kite Runner (Theatre Calgary/Citadel). Bahareh is a six-time Dora Award nominee and a two-time Sterling Award nominee.
2021: Director of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Fifth season. Stratford: Director of Hamlet, 2020 - cancelled due to COVID. Assistant director: Birds of a Kind, School for Scandal, Breath of Kings. Elsewhere: Peter is an acclaimed theatre director who has worked with Canada's leading theatre companies including Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper, Shaw Festival, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Canadian Stage. Peter directed the world premières of Jordan Tannahill's Late Company (Theatre Centre), Rosamund Small's Sisters (Soulpepper), and Rosa Laborde's Like Wolves (GCTC). Peter's Dora-nominated productions include The Nether, Killer Joe, Dying City, When the World Was Green and The Jones Boy. Peter also works as a filmmaker in Canada and Poland. Awards: Peter is a two-time Dora Award nominee for Outstanding Direction and a Winnipeg Theatre Award nominee for Outstanding Direction. Et cetera: For Ian Watson.
2021: Set designer of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Second season. Elsewhere: Set, costume, lighting design for Ghost Quartet (Crow's Theatre); set, lighting, sound design for Book of Life (Volcano Theatre/Canadian Stage); lighting design for Café Sarajevo (Bluemouth Inc.); lighting design for Charlotte (Theaturtle); set and lighting design for The Nether (Coal Mine Theatre); lighting design for It Comes in Waves (Bluemouth Inc./Necessary Angel Theatre); set and lighting design for Brave New World (Litmus Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille); set, costume, lighting design for Late Company (Surface Underground/Why Not Theatre). Awards: Dora Award in Lighting Design for The Nether (Coal Mine); Dora Award in Independent Set Design for Crawlspace (Videofag); Dora Award in Lighting Design for It Comes in Waves (Bluemouth Inc./Necessary Angel); Toronto Theatre Critics Award in Design for The Nether (Coal Mine). Et cetera: Kaitlin, you're the best!
2021: Lighting designer of A Midsummer Night's Dream. 17th season. Stratford (selected): Billy Elliot, Little Shop of Horrors, Birds of a Kind, The Rocky Horror Show, The Music Man, The Tempest, Napoli Milionaria!, Guys and Dolls, The School for Scandal, Macbeth, A Chorus Line, Hamlet, The Sound of Music, Oedipus Rex, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Fiddler on the Roof, The Matchmaker, Twelfth Night.Elsewhere: Piaf/Deitrich (Mirvish); A Christmas Carol (Theatre Calgary); Così Fan Tutte (Israeli Opera, COC); Il Trittico, Jenufa, Maria Stuarda, Albert Herring (Pacific Opera Victoria); A Doll's House Part 2 (RMTC/Mirvish); The Full Light of Day (Electric Company); Tartuffe (Canadian Stage/Stratford); The Humans (Citadel/Canadian Stage); Enron (NAC); A Word or Two with Christopher Plummer (CTG/Stratford, Los Angeles); Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Sideways (La Jolla Playhouse); Julie, The Other Place, Harper Regan, Venus in Fur (Canadian Stage); Chimerica (RMTC/Canadian Stage).
2021: Assistant director of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Third season. Elsewhere: Marie works between Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. She has directed for and collaborated with companies from across the country such as Crow's Theatre, Théâtre La Seizième, Neworld, Necessary Angel, Bard on the Beach, Rumble Theatre and Porte-Parole. Since 2018, she has been the Associate Artistic Director at Crow's Theatre. Training: Concordia University; Michael Langham Workshop. Awards: Dora Award for Outstanding Direction in the Musical Theatre division and Toronto Theatre Critics' Award for Best Director of a Musical for Ghost Quartet; 2019 Ray Michal Award for Outstanding Body of Work by an Emerging Director; Patron's Pick and Best of Fringe Awards at the 2019 Toronto Fringe for The Huns; Artistic Risk Award at the Vancouver Fringe 2018 for Surveil. Online: mariefarsi.com.
2021: Apprentice stage manager of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Second season. Elsewhere: Stage manager of Adam's Unplugged Puppet Party (The Pucking Fuppets Co.), This Is How We Live (Frantic Assembly and Ryerson School of Performance), Equinox and Goose … Please Pay Attention! (New Voices Festival), The '94 Club (Crave Productions), The Women (Ryerson School of Performance), Folks Like Us and Miss Michael: In Conversation with Michael Learned (The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia). Apprentice stage manager of Come Down from Up River (Theatre Orangeville) and Driving Miss Daisy (The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia). Training: BFA with Honours in Performance Production and Design, Ryerson School of Performance. Et cetera: Lily is so proud to be joining the team at the Stratford Festival, and would like to thank her family, friends, and professors for all their love and support!
2021: Production stage manager of the Tom Patterson Theatre Canopy. Eighth season. Stratford: Production stage manager, Festival Theatre, 2020. Assistant stage manager: Billy Elliot, Othello, The Music Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, Shakespeare in Love, The Hypochondriac, The Sound of Music, The Taming of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, As You Like It, King of Thieves. Elsewhere (selected): King Lear, Twelfth Night (SiHP); A City, Divisadero (Necessary Angel); Cracked: new light on dementia (UW/Collective Disruption); Comfort (Red Snow Collective); The Road to Paradise, Night (Human Cargo); Miracle on 34th Street (STC); Bella (HGJTC); Anne of Green Gables, Canada Rocks! (Charlottetown); Falling: A Wake (Blyth); The Barber of Seville (Soulpepper); Binti's Journey, Head à Tête, Old Man and the River (Theatre Direct); Danny, King of the Basement (Roseneath); Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, All's Well That Ends Well (SLSF).
Production support is generously provided by the Harkins & Manning families in memory of Susan & Jim Harkins.
EDWARD ALBEE'STHREE TALL WOMENDirected by Diana LeBlanc
JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOMEONE . . .
By turns acerbic, anguished and sarcastically funny, an old woman known to us only as “A” lays bare her inner life in sometimes shocking detail to two others: a middle-aged caregiver identified only as “B” and a young legal professional, “C.”
Originally programmed for our 2020 season, Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, which he called an “exorcism” of his own troubled relationship with his adoptive mother, is a profound meditation on aging, death and the very nature of the self: who are we really, and how do we become who we are?
In keeping with our pandemic precautions, we present the play's two parts – the second of which brings a startlingly different take on its characters – as separate performances, scheduled to be seen on the same day.
Approximate Runtime: Each part one hour and 30 minutes no intermission.
2021: B in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. 34th season.
I am deeply grateful to be a part of this Extraordinary Season.
I wish you a very Warm Welcome.
Thank you So Much for being with us.
2021: C in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. Fourth season. Stratford: Mary Warren in The Crucible, Childlike Empress in The Neverending Story, Miranda in The Tempest, Officer 1 in The Comedy of Errors and Teresa in Napoli Milionaria! Birmingham Conservatory: Arden of Faversham, King Lear, The Winter's Tale, Twelfth Night. Elsewhere: The Neverending Story (NAC). Training: NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre (Chicago Fellow). Proud alumna of the Young Adult Council at Steppenwolf. Awards: Guthrie Award - Dora Mavor Moore. Et cetera: I am beyond grateful to share the "tent" with two extremely tall women. Much love and gratitude to Mom and Dad.
2021: The Boy in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. Fourth season. Stratford: Sir Henry Guildford in Henry VIII, Eribo, A Bully in The Neverending Story, Harold in An Ideal Husband, appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird and understudied in Julius Caesar. Elsewhere: Atreyu in The Neverending Story (National Arts Centre); Katurian K. Katurian in The Pillowman (Orlando Fringe 2016). Film/TV: Guest star on episodes of Reign (CW Network), Murder U (Discovery ID). Training: University of Windsor, Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. Instagram: @thicctheband.
2021: Designer of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. 14th season. Stratford: Francesca has spent over 10 years working as a design assistant and designer at the Stratford Festival. Elsewhere: Francesca has worked as a designer and design assistant in Canada, the US and UK. While working in England as an art director for film and television (BBC and Channel 4), she also studied Architectural History at Oxford University and Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes University, and she has worked for English Heritage, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, founded by William Morris, and for Condé Nast at The World of Interiors magazine.
2021: Lighting designer of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. 35th season. Stratford: Over 60 productions including Henry VIII, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, All My Sons. At the time of the arrival of COVID Ms Guinand was working on the 2020 productions of Three Tall Women and All's Well That Ends Well. Elsewhere: Ms Guinand has designed lights for over 550 shows across Canada and the United States. Recent productions before the arrival of COVID include Rope (Shaw); Cinderella, I Call Myself Princess (Globe); Pinocchio (YPT). Training: A graduate of Queen's University and the National Theatre School. Awards: One Dora Award. Multiple award nominations across Canada. Louise was the recipient of the 2018 Bradley Garrick Guthrie Award. Other: Louise is within seven Shakespeares of achieving her desire to light the entire Shakespearean canon.
2021: Composer and sound designer of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. 27th season. Stratford: Composer and sound designer for Henry VIII. Composer for King Lear, Mother Courage, The Merchant of Venice. Elsewhere: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Tempest (The Old Globe, San Diego); A Christmas Carol (2010-2019), Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, Three Sisters, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1997, 2000, 2008, 2015), Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, The Cherry Orchard (Guthrie Theater); The Donnellys, Innocence Lost (NAC); The Drowning Girls, Gracie, Les Passants (GCTC); Category E (Coal Mine); Coeur de Chien, Les Nuits Blanches (Théâtre Français de Toronto); Red, Harvey (Segal Centre); 1979, Born Yesterday (Shaw Festival); 39 Steps, Butcher (Centaur); Mikveh, Rose (Harold Green Jewish Theatre); This London Life (Grand Theatre). Awards: Helen Hayes Award for Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, DC). Website: keiththomas.ca
Production support is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska, Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of PaulineLeavine, Sylvia Soyka, The Westaway Charitable Foundation and by Jack Whiteside.
By Tomson HighwayDirected by Jessica Carmichael
WIN OR LOSE, THE GAME WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES
They have their dreams and their difficulties, these seven women. One yearns for a singing career; another for white porcelain toilet. One grieves for her lover, killed in a motorcycle accident; another harbours the memory of a horrific sexual assault. The cancer that afflicts one of them is not the only malignancy they confront.
But one dream they hold in common is that of winning “the biggest bingo in the world” – and one day, accompanied by the transformative spirit guide Nanabush, they leave their Manitoulin Island reserve and set out for Toronto to do just that.
Ribald, harrowing and mystical, this seminal work of Indigenous drama celebrates the spirit of resilience and the powerful beauty these women bring to the tough world in which they live.
Runtime: One hour and 45 minutes no intermission.
House Program: The Rez Sisters
each ticket sold for The Rez Sisters will be donated to Native Women’s
Association of Canada in support of justice for missing and murdered Indigenous
women and girls.
2021: Zhaboonigan Peterson in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Brefny is a Cree/Irish-settler performer and creator from Toronto. She holds an MFA in Acting from York University. With curiosity, patience and lots of humour, Brefny focuses her attention on works surrounding identity and decolonization, striving to evolve her artistic practice on the regular. She has had the privilege of working across the country with many notable companies and collectives including Theatre Kingston, Urban Ink and Caravan Farm Theatre. Brefny is also a co-creator of The Solitudes (Aluna Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), a collective-creation piece centred around the histories of eight ensemble members, inspired by the world of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which had its world première in January 2020. Most recently, Brefny participated in Aluna Theatre's Winter Artist Residency, and she is currently a part of Native Earth Performing Arts' Animikiig Creators Unit.
2021: Marie-Adele Starblanket in The Rez Sisters. Fourth season. Acting: The Unnatural and Accidental Women (National Arts Centre); Moose on the Loose (Sudbury Theatre Centre); An Honour Story (The Debajehmujig Theatre Company). Film/TV: Wild Indian (30WEST), Unsettled (APTN), Antlers (Fox Pictures), Burden of Truth (CBC), The Silencing (Anova Pictures), Indian Horse (Screen Siren Productions), Wave a Red Flag (National Film Board).
2021: Annie Cook in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Regional: Blyth Festival, Carousel Players, Charlottetown Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, Unsettled Scores, Red Sky Performance, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Essential Collective Theatre, Soundstreams, Young People's Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Magnus Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Jumblies Theatre. Elsewhere: Disney's Beauty and the Beast (UK tour/Athens, Greece), Jerry Springer: The Opera (award-winning West End production), Mamma Mia! (original Toronto cast/US tour). Film/TV: Clarice (CBS), Detention Adventure, Baroness von Sketch Show (CBC), Québexit (Telefilm). Audio Dramas: Seven Stories (Tarragon), You Can't Get There From Here (Factory). Recordings: The Magic of Christmas with John Rutter and the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir (CBC). Training: The Actor's Centre (London, UK), Randolph Academy. Awards: 2020 Dora Mavor Moore for Outstanding Ensemble (Two Odysseys). Et cetera: Nicole dedicates this season to her supportive family, friends and community.
2021: Emily Dictionary in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Elsewhere: Marie-Angelique in Women of the Fur Trade (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); #7 in The Wolves (Live Five Saskatoon); Head Full of Lice in The Third Colour (Prairie Theatre Exchange); Thanadelthur in Torn Through Time (Manitoba Theatre for Young People). Other: Pimootayowin Indigenous Playwright Circle (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre). Training: National Theatre School of Canada. Online: Instagram @katmaclean. Et cetera: Kinanâskomitin to my family and those who worked so hard so that I may stand on their shoulders.
2021: Philomena Moosetail in The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Tracey Nepinak came full-circle in Prairie Theatre Exchange's 2019 world première of The Third Colour by Ian Ross. Tracey has been fortunate to have a long, satisfying career in mainstream theatre, primarily because of Ian Ross's fareWel, which also premièred at PTE in 1997. Some of Tracey's most recent work: Punctuate! Theatre's Bears by Matthew Mackenzie (Belfry/Factory theatres); Tara Began's Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary); Patrick Friesen's A Short History of Crazy Bone (Theatre Projects Manitoba).
Playwright of The Rez Sisters
Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He was raised off-reserve, in the spectacularly beautiful natural landscape that is Canada's sub-Arctic. He had the great privilege of growing up in two languages, neither of which was French or English but Cree, his mother tongue, and Dene, the language of the neighbouring "nation," a people with whom they roamed and hunted.
Following an education where he earned both a Bachelor of Music and the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts with an English major, he spent seven years immersed in the field of Native social work. He then combined his education and training and poured himself into writing.
Today Tomson enjoys an international career as playwright, novelist, pianist, composer and songwriter. Tomson is best known for universal hits such as The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout, The (Post) Mistress and the best-selling novel Kiss of the Fur Queen. He has also published a number of children's books, namely Caribou Song, Dragon Fly Kites and Fox on the Ice. His work has been translated into 11 languages.
For many years Tomson was Artistic Director of Canada's premier aboriginal theatre company, Toronto-based Native Earth Performing Arts, from which has emerged an entire generation of playwrights and theatre artists.
Tomson is the recipient of 11 honorary doctorates and is a member of the Order of Canada. His awards include two Governor General's Literary Award nominations, Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, Toronto Arts Award and National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
Fluent in Cree, French and English, he continues to write, teach, lecture, and perform across Canada and around the world.
2021: Director of The Rez Sisters. Fourth season. Stratford: Assistant director of The Aeneid, Christina, The Girl King. Elsewhere: Directing (selected): Embodying Power and Place (Nightwood Theatre/Native Earth); Apathy (Concordia University); Ipperwash (Blyth Festival); Boys, Girls, and Other Mythological Creatures, Tick, iChild, Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin (Carousel Players); Two Indians (SummerWorks); Savage (Native Earth Performing Arts); Treaty No. 9 (reading, Aluna Theatre/Rutas Panamericanas). Training: MFA Directing (University of Alberta); MA Text and Performance Studies (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/King's College London); Acting Program (National Theatre School of Canada). Et cetera: Jessica is of mixed Abénaki/Euro heritage. She is a tenure-track assistant professor in Theatre at Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke/Molian/Montréal. Dedication: This performance is personally dedicated to my best friend, my beloved sister, Tegan Carmichael, 1986-2019.
2021: Set and lighting designer of The Rez Sisters. Second season. Elsewhere: Lighting design for 12 Dates of Christmas (Arts Club Theatre); East Van Panto: Panto Come Home (Theatre Replacement); La Voix Humaine (City Opera); Being Here: The Refugee Project (Belfry Theatre); Sis Ne' Bi-Yiz (Heart of the City Festival); Peter Pan (Carousel Theatre for Young People); The Orchard (Arts Club Theatre); Little Volcano (Veda Hille x Theatre Replacement). Set design for Kuroko (Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre); SRO (Urban Ink Productions); Herringbone (Patrick Street Productions); Yoga Play (Gateway Theatre). Training: BFA Simon Fraser University, MFA University of British Columbia. Awards: Jessie Richardson Theatre Award: Titus Bouffonius (Rumble Theatre), Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nomination: Kuroko (Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre), Chicken Girl (Rice and Beans Theatre), The Orchard (Arts Club Theatre). Online: Sophieyufeitang.com.
2021: Costume designer of The Rez Sisters. Second season. Navajo and Cherokee Nations. Elsewhere: Blues for an Alabama Sky (Keen Company, Drama Desk nomination); Venus and Adonis (New Camerata Opera); Too Heavy for Your Pocket (George Street Playhouse); Skeleton Crew (Westport Country Playhouse); Father Comes Home… (Juilliard); Measure for Measure (The Public Theater Mobile Unit); Cymbeline (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Brobot Johnson Experience (The Bushwick Starr); Tricks the Devil Taught Me (Minetta Lane Theatre); Coriolanus and The Seagull (Yale School of Drama); Whale Song (Perseverance Theater); The Crazy Shepherds of Rebellion, Roberto Zucco (Yale Cabaret); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Frog and Peach Theatre Company); The Winter's Tale (HERE Arts Center); Peer Gynt (Amherst College). Training: MFA Yale School of Drama. BFA Parsons School of Design. Online: asabenally.com. Instagram: @Asa_Benally_Design.
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.
By Marcia JohnsonDirected by Kimberley Rampersad
IN THE SCRIPT OF HISTORY, WHO GETS A SPEAKING ROLE?
In Kenya in 1952, Mercy, a restaurant proprietor, is hired to cater the impending visit of Princess Elizabeth, soon to be Queen. In 2015, another story unfolds in London, England, where a young Kenyan-born Canadian, Tia, is working as an intern on a TV drama series about the British royal family – while also pursuing a writing project of her own. These parallel narratives seem only coincidentally connected – until a surprising twist reveals a deeper relationship between the two. Audiences are certain to enjoy this ingenious contemporary drama that keeps us guessing as it explores issues of colonialism, nationalism and the question of who gets to have a voice.
Produced by special arrangement with Thousand Islands Playhouse.
2021: HRH Princess Elizabeth, Robin in Serving Elizabeth. 14th season. Stratford: Shakespeare's Juliet, Rosalind, Olivia, Cordelia, Diana, Ann Boleyn, Jessica, Princess Katherine; Ruth (Blithe Spirit), Célimène (The Misanthrope), Tourvel (Dangerous Liaisons), Wendy (Peter Pan), Gwendolyn (The Importance of Being Earnest), Laurencia (Fuente Ovejuna), Mabel (An Ideal Husband), Laura (The Glass Menagerie), Grace (London Assurance), Brooke (Noises Off), Cassandra (Agamemnon). New York: Cecily in Tom Stoppard's Travesties (Broadway), Gwendolyn in The Importance Of Being Earnest (Broadway), Beatrice-Joanna in The Changeling (Off-Broadway). London: UK première of Intimate Apparel, world première of Love Me Do. Shaw Festival: Saint Joan (Joan), Man and Superman (Ann), Victory (Devonshire), Middletown (Tour Guide). Other (selected): Beatrice in Much Ado, Olivia in Twelfth Night (Old Globe), Ariel in The Tempest, Titania/Hippolyta in Midsummer (Shakespeare Theatre DC/Macau, China), Rachel Peabody in Disney's Eloise at Christmastime.
Playwright of Serving Elizabeth
Marcia Johnson was born in Jamaica and has lived in and near Toronto (Tkaranto) since the age of six. Her five-minute play A Magical Place, written for Zoom, is available on YouTube as part of the National Transformations Project (National Arts Centre/Stratford Festival). She directed the two-hander, starring Kaleb Alexander and Amaka Umeh.
Marcia acted in Serving Elizabeth's world première at Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops in February 2020. It has been published by Scirocco Drama. The play was a co-production with Thousand Islands Playhouse, which will host its COVID-delayed production in October. More productions are in the works.
Other plays include Binti's Journey, an adaptation of the teen fiction novel The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis (Theatre Direct Canada/Manitoba Theatre for Young People/Black Theatre Workshop); Say Ginger Ale (SummerWorks Festival and adapted from her award-nominated CBC Radio drama); Courting Johanna (Blyth Festival), based on Alice Munro's "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage"; and Late, an original piece produced by Obsidian Theatre Company.
Marcia has participated in playwrights' groups at Thousand Islands Playhouse, Obsidian Theatre Company and Theatre Passe Muraille as well as Ontario Arts Council Playwright's Residencies at Blyth Festival and Roseneath Theatre. She also participated in Tapestry New Opera's Composer-Librettist Laboratory twice, which led to several productions of her short operas including the Dora-nominated My Mother's Ring with composer Stephen A. Taylor.
CBC Radio Drama writing credits include Wifely Duty and The Revival Meeting (Sounds Like Canada); Say Ginger Ale (The Round Up); and Perfect on Paper (Sunday Showcase and Monday Night Playhouse). Marcia was a member of Blyth Festival's 2018 acting company with lead roles in The New Canadian Curling Club and 1837: The Farmers' Revolt. She makes the odd appearance on TV and can be heard in the audio drama Every Minute of Every Day by Keith Barker as part of Factory Theatre's "You Can't Get There from Here" series.
Marcia started reading children's books online in April 2020 as a pandemic project. It transformed into the Facebook page "Hello, It's Marcia." As of this writing, she has read almost 400 books to children and adults alike.
Production support is generously provided by John & Therese Gardner and by the Tremain family.
Text by Rébecca Déraspe
Music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry
English translation by Leanna Brodie
Directed by Esther Jun
HER BROTHER'S NO SHAKEPEARE – BUT SHE SURE IS
Margaret Shakespeare has a dazzling talent for writing, which she yearns to put to serious use. But in an age lethally suspicious of female intellect and literacy, how can she find a way to fulfill her authorial ambitions yet still survive? Fortunately, she has a brother, William, who isn’t much of a writer but who wants to make it as an actor – and friends in high places have just the role for him.
Tapping into our fascination with the enigma of William Shakespeare’s life and how he came to write those plays – and the seemingly endless speculation in some quarters about whether he really did – this lighthearted yet genuinely passionate interweaving of comedy, song and poetic fancy spins a playful and witty yarn that will delight younger audiences and adults alike.
2021: William in I Am William. Stratford debut. As Actor: Shazam! (New Line Cinema/DC Films), Murdoch Mysteries (CBC), Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan (Bad Hats Theatre/Soulpepper), A Woman of No Importance, Dance of Death (Shaw Festival), The Drawer Boy (Essential Collective Theatre), Life in a Box (Toronto Fringe). As Composer: Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan (Bad Hats Theatre/Soulpepper), Life in a Box (Bad Hats Theatre/Toronto Fringe), Romeo and Juliet (Old Flame Brewing Company), The Welland Canal Play (Essential Collective Theatre), Pippi! (Fourth Gorgon Theatre). Awards: Dora Awards for Peter Pan (Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Production), Life in a Box (Outstanding New Musical). Other: George Brown Theatre School graduate, Associate Artist of Bad Hats Theatre, RBC Apprentice with Musical Stage Company. Instagram: @landondoak.
2021: Mary, Queen Elizabeth I in I Am William. Sixth season. Stratford: Mother's Daughter (Mary), The Crucible (Elizabeth Proctor), Twelfth Night (Olivia), The School for Scandal (Lady Teazle), Shakespeare in Love (Viola), The Hypochondriac (Angélique), The Diary of Anne Frank (Margot Frank), Oedipus Rex (Priest), She Stoops to Conquer (Rose), The Sound of Music (Liesl), Inherit the Wind. Elsewhere (selected): Room (Grand Theatre/Mirvish); A Doll's House (RMTC); King Charles III (Mirvish/Studio 180); The Road to Mecca (Soulpepper); Pride and Prejudice (NAC/Theatre Calgary); The Jones Boy (Surface/Underground); Salt-Water Moon (Thousand Islands Playhouse); A Midsummer Night's Dream, Little Women: The Musical (Citadel Theatre); The Madonna Painter (Factory Theatre). Film/TV: Private Eyes, MayDay, Eloise. Training: Birmingham Conservatory; Ryerson Theatre School (BFA). Awards: Mary Savidge Award; Dora nomination for Outstanding Performance. Et cetera: Thank you for supporting live theatre.
2021: Cello, Trumpet in I Am William. 20th season. Elsewhere: Cello with Stratford's INNERchamber String Quartet and Ensemble; cello for Roy Lewis's Moments With You for Here for Now Festival; arranger, Dayna Manning's Morning Light.
2021: Percussion in I Am William. 12th season. Stratford: Orchestra: Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, Man of La Mancha, Wanderlust, Kiss Me, Kate, Evita, West Side Story, Forum. Onstage musician: As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, Henry V, Fuente Ovejuna. Elsewhere: Graham has performed professionally on four continents. Recordings: Several soundtracks for Stratford productions; two duo CDs with percussionist Nicholas Coulter, Reinventions and Theme and Evolutions; four CDs with the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan; also one CD, A440, with his band, Dan Stacey and the Black Swans. Training: Bachelors (UVic), Masters (U of T) in Percussion Performance. Awards: 2017 and 2019 All-Ireland Bones Championships - second place 2017, third place 2019; two Guthries; one Dora (2015).
Chloé Lacasse, an award-winning singer-songwriter in the Francophone music scene, creates contemporary alternative pop with lush arrangements drawing on pop, folk, classical music, and ambient rock. Winning the 2011 Francouvertes led to the release of her first, self-titled album, followed by LUNES in 2014. In 2015, she received the Dédé Fortin Prize and presented the critically acclaimed show Les Vies possibles. Ongoing collaborations include the English-language alternative group CHANCES (Traveler, 2018, and Connection, 2021) and the Nikamu Mamuitun collective, an artistic encounter between First Nations and settlers. A trained actor, singer, and classical pianist, Chloé Lacasse also works as a performer, accompanist, composer, producer, and sound designer. Her third solo album, Les eaux claires, drops in September 2021.
Music for I Am William.
Benoit Landry is a director, singer, musician, and actor. His work balances creation with interpretation in multiple fields: based in theatre and music, it encompasses circus and dance. He has been a performer or musical designer in some thirty productions, in both major Montreal theatres and international tours. Directing credits include: Serge Fiori - Seul ensemble (Cirque Éloize); Chansons pour filles et garçons perdus (Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui); and André Mathieu's Événement 50e (Francofolies, Maison symphonique). Most recently, he was the art director of the film Sept moments de joie (Cirque Éloize) and the immersive exhibition Sous les glaces with Mario Cyr (Éloize Expo). He also directs for television, notably the variety show En direct de l'univers (Ici Radio-Canada). He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the multidisciplinary company Nord Nord Est.
Translator of I Am William.
Leanna Brodie is an award-winning playwright and librettist whose work has been performed from Halifax to Auckland. Schoolhouse just opened the 30th season of Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in Canning, NS; Ulla's Odyssey, composed by Anthony Young, recently toured the UK with OperaUpClose. Brodie is also a noted translator of Québécois playwrights. Last season alone saw four English-language premières: David Paquet's The Shoe (The Cherry Artspace, Ithaca, New York) and Wildfire (Upstream Theater, St. Louis, Missouri); Annie Brocoli's Stella and the Time Machine Journey (Lune Rouge, Arlington, Texas); and Joe Jack et John's Violette (Espace Libre, Montréal, Québec). Brodie is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Calgary, with multiple translation commissions and a Stratford Festival/Banff Centre commission to co-write Salesman in China with Jovanni Sy. leannabrodie.com.
2021: Choreographer of I Am William. Stratford debut. Stratford: peasantz (research process in the Laboratory). Choreography & Direction: Bin Chicken (Toronto Dance Theatre); hollow mountain, fantasylover, Dolphin, string quartet no. 14 in g major, MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRLS (Rock Bottom Movement); FUTUREDANCE (Rock Bottom Movement/Canadian Stage); STARSEED, that infinite feeling (Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre). Choreography for Theatre & Musicals: Pal Joey (Talk Is Free Theatre); Girls Like That (Tarragon Theatre); Nashville Stories, Cherry Corsage (David Bernstein). Film: Bin Chicken (Toronto Dance Theatre); sixty seven moo(n)s (Canadian Stage); Love from FARM to SummerWorks (SummerWorks); Stevie (Ante Kovak). Training: Ryerson University BFA Honours in Dance. Awards: Dora Award for Outstanding Production and Ensemble for hollow mountain; Canadian Stage Award for Direction for fantasylover; Jack McAllister Award for Alumni Achievement. Online: rockbottommovement.com, @rockbottommovement, @itsalyssamartin. Et cetera: Deepest thanks to Esther for bringing me along!
2021: Co-designer of I Am William. Fifth season. Stratford: HMS Pinafore (associate costume designer). Off-Broadway: Costume designer: A Four-Letter Word (Classic Stage Company). Designer: Richard III, King Lear, Macbeth (New York Classical Theatre); Orpheus (Next Wave Festival). Off-Off-Broadway: Costume designer: Displaced Wedding (New Worlds Theatre). Selected Regional: Designer: Could I Have This Dance? (Rebecca Cohn Auditorium). Costume designer: Jukebox Hero (Ed Mirvish Theatre); Measure for Measure (Canadian Stage); Theory (Tarragon); The Nether, Between Riverside & Crazy (Coal Mine); The New Canadian Curling Club (Blyth Festival); Amadeus, The Gamblers (Talk is Free); The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Kimberly Akimbo (Southern Rep); Coriolanus, Henry V (Shakespeare Festival at Tulane). Film/TV: Costume designer: Save Me, For the Record (CBC Gem); NOLA; The Red Thunder (short); Good Sister (short). Training: MFA (University of Missouri - Kansas City); BFA (Concordia University). Online: michellebohndesign.com.
2021: Lighting designer of I Am William. Second season. Stratford: Wendy & Peter Pan (2020). Theatre: Canadian Stage, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Projects, Factory Theatre, The Globe Theatre and Expect Theatre. Dance: Desrosiers Dance Theatre, The Danny Grossman Dance Company, ProArteDanza, tiger princess dance projects, Tribal Crackling Wind, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Canada's National Ballet School, resident designer at Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre. Music: Art of Time Ensemble, Nagata Shachu. Training: York University Theatre Program. Teaching: York University, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo and The National Theatre School. Awards: Seven Dora Mavor Moore nominations for Outstanding Lighting Design in the dance and theatre categories. Et cetera: Arun is thrilled to return to Stratford for a second season.
2021: Sound designer of I Am William. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: TOKA (Theatre Passe Muraille); OIL (ARC); bug (Luminato); The Winter's Tale (Shakespeare in the Ruff); Eraser: A New Normal (Theatre Direct); Private Eyes (lemonTree Creations); Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers (b current); Through the Bamboo (Toronto Fringe). Original Work: Kersey Kamayan Gets Woke (fu-GEN Theatre); 4inXchange (xLq); Love You Wrong Time (Bad Muse Collective). Residencies/Training: NoteWorthy 2021 (The Musical Stage Company & Prime Mover Theatre); Humber College, Theatre Performance. Awards: Dora nomination for Eraser (RISER 2019); nominated for the 2020 Pauline McGibbon Award; recipient of the inaugural Walk the Walk Commission 2018. Online: maddiebautista.com, @bautistamaddie. Et cetera: For Ma, Pa, Anya, Douie, and John.
2021: Assistant director of I Am William. Second season. Elsewhere: As director: Eraser: A New Normal (Theatre Direct); Eraser (Why Not Theatre's Riser Project); Mamma Mia! (Nightwood Theatre's Lawyer Show); The Stray Sheep Cabaret (Nightwood Theatre, staged reading); Cleave (Theatre Direct, staged reading); Motherload (Rhubarb! Festival/Buddies in Bad Times); Tire Swing (Filament Incubator/Epigraph Collective). Literature: Spawning Generations: Rants and Reflections on Growing Up with LGBTQ+ Parents (editor/contributor, Demeter Press). Training: York University, playwriting and devised theatre. Awards: Eraser: nominated for five Dora Awards in the Theatre for Young Audience category: Outstanding Direction, New Play, Production, Ensemble and Design. Spawning Generation: nominated for a Lambda Literary Award (Anthology); two Forward Indie Awards (Anthology and LGBT Non-Fiction). Online: sadieepsteinfine.com. Et cetera: Sadie is the former intern artistic director at Nightwood Theatre.
Curated and Directed by Marcus Nance
A CELEBRATION OF BLACK MUSICAL THEATRE
Throughout the ages the African-American community has told stories of life, love, pain and hope through the glorious expressions of musical theatre and poetry. In this update of the sold-out 2019 Meighen Forum concert, Festival artists take you on a journey with the voices of legendary Black poets and the music of the African-American musical-theatre canon, including hits from Aida, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Color Purple, Hamilton, The Lion King, Once on This Island, Show Boat and many more. As Maya Angelou said, “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, / I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
House Program: Why We Tell the Story
Runtime: One hour and 20 minutes no intermission.
2021: Co-curator of Play On! and Singer in Why We Tell the Story. Fourth season. Stratford: Up Close and Musical (Stratfest@Home), The Rocky Horror Show, Tommy, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof. Elsewhere: Dear Evan Hansen (Mirvish); Lil' Red Robin Hood (Ross Petty Productions); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Theatre Aquarius); Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, Seussical, James and the Giant Peach (YPT); Our Town, Sweeney Todd (Shaw Festival); UnCovered: Queen and Bowie (Musical Stage Company); Dream a Little Dream, Shrek (Grand Theatre); Chicago, Twist and Shout (Drayton Entertainment); Next to Normal (Citadel Theatre/Theatre Calgary); The Rocky Horror Show, A Christmas Carol (Citadel Theatre); Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago (Mayfield); Hunchback (Catalyst). Film/TV: If I Only Had Christmas (Hallmark Channel). Training: BFA, University of Alberta. Online: robertmarkus.com. Instagram: @rjbmarkus. Et cetera: Special thanks to family, friends, TH, and JRS, for their constant support.
2021: Curator and director of and Singer in Why We Tell the Story. 10th season. Stratford (highlights): Up Close and Musical: Voice of a Preacher's Son, Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, HMS Pinafore, Carousel, Crazy for You, Jesus Christ Superstar, Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, My One and Only. Elsewhere: La Bohème, Jesus Christ Superstar (Broadway); Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins, Pal Joey (Shaw Festival); Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast (Grand Theatre); Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Mermaid, Mikado (Drayton); Evangeline (Charlottetown); Kismet, Of Thee I Sing (Encores! N.Y.C.); Jesus Christ Superstar (La Jolla); Dark Star Requiem (Luminato); Porgy and Bess (Toronto Symphony); Elsewhereless (Tapestry). Film/TV: Murdoch Mysteries, Departure, Mayday, Prodigal Son, The Producers, Beatrice Chancy. Recordings: The Voice Next Door. Awards: Metropolitan Opera winner, Dora nominee. Training: Fresno State University. Online: marcusnance.com.
2021: Singer in Why We Tell the Story. Third season. Stratford: Up Close and Musical, Mum in Billy Elliot, Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors. Elsewhere: Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland (Bad Hats and Soulpepper); Emmie in Caroline, or Change, Edwina in Passing Strange (Musical Stage Company and Obsidian); Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Young People's Theatre); Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel, Polly Plummer in The Magician's Nephew, Zoe in An Octoroon (Shaw Festival); Nicola in Kinky Boots (Mirvish). Film/TV: Sex/Life, Tallboyz, Too Close for Christmas, Love in the Wilds, Suits. Directing: Talk is Free Theatre, Grand Theatre London, Sheridan College. Awards: Dora Awards: Caroline, or Change, Kinky Boots, The Wizard of Oz. Critic's Pick: Mary Poppins, Passing Strange. Toronto Theatre Critics Award: Passing Strange. Online: Instagram: @vanessa_sears. Twitter: @nessasears.
2021: Director of Music for the Stratford Festival. Music director of and Keyboard for Why We Tell the Story and Finally There's Sun. 12th season. Stratford: Billy Elliot, The Music Man, HMS Pinafore, A Little Night Music, Carousel, Man of La Mancha, Pirates of Penzance, Kiss Me, Kate, Funny Thing Happened... (Stratford/Mirvish). In concert: Up Close and Musical (Stratfest@Home), The Fantasticks, Passion, Next to Normal. Elsewhere: Toronto/US tours: Show Boat, Ragtime, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Billy Elliot, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Lord of the Rings, Threepenny Opera (Soulpepper); London Symphonia's Enchanting Broadway. Recordings: Carousel, Crazy for You (Stratford cast recordings); The Voice Next Door (Marcus Nance). Training: Vocal Coaching and Accompanying, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dedication: Franklin dedicates this season's performances to the memory of his cherished friend Pablo Keselman, who supported great singers and musicians, and deeply admired cabaret.
2021: Lighting designer of Why We Tell the Story, You Can't Stop the Beat, Play On!, Freedom and Finally There's Sun. Ninth season. Stratford: Lighting designer, Othello, The Comedy of Errors. Assistant lighting designer, six seasons (2011-2016). Selected credits: A Chorus Line, Tommy, A Word or Two, Jesus Christ Superstar. Studio Theatre technical director, 2013. Elsewhere: Honour Beat (Grand), After the Fire, The Particulars (Punctuate, The Theatre Centre); Kinky Boots, Newsies (Drayton Entertainment); Salt-Water Moon (Mirvish, Factory, Why Not); Wildfire (RARE, Soulpepper); The Emancipation of Ms. Lovely, The Breath in Between (Crow's); Superior Donuts (Coal Mine); Laurier (Charlottetown Festival, TNB); Beaver (Storefront); Noises Off (Soulpepper); A Line in the Sand, The Crackwalker (Factory Theatre); Hana Hashimoto (Carousel Players). Training: National Theatre School of Canada. Et cetera: Course Lecturer at Ryerson University, Instructor at the NTSC, General Manager of Lights On Stratford, a two-time Dora nominee and a 2020 Pauline McGibbon Award nominee.
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin.
Curated and Directed by Thom Allison
THE ENDURING POWER OF MUSICAL THEATRE
What is it about musical theatre that captures the hearts of millions of fans? Through wars, disasters, heartbreaks and triumphs, musicals have been there to give us a way to understand the human experience and flourish. Has there ever been a better way to represent our inner lives than in glorious Technicolor and song? We invite you on this tune-filled ride to celebrate why musicals have always been the ultimate tonic for the soul in good or troubled times.
House Program: You Can't Stop the Beat
Runtime: One hour and 20 minutes no intermission.
2021: Singer in You Can't Stop the Beat. Second season. Elsewhere: Caroline, or Change, Once on This Island, Parade (Musical Stage Company); The Mountaintop (Obsidian Theatre/Shaw Festival); Ragtime, Guys and Dolls, Major Barbara, Trouble in Tahiti (Shaw Festival); six seasons with the Charlottetown Festival, including Atlantic Blue, Anne of Green Gables, Hairspray; The Music Man, The Gamblers, Amadeus (Talk Is Free Theatre); Young People's Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Canadian Stage, among others. Training: Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto. Et cetera: I feel immensely privileged to be performing on stage and making live theatre right now. Much love to my BC fam. Endless thanks and gratitude to the essential workers getting us through this. Black Lives Matter.
2021: Singer in You Can't Stop the Beat. Third season. Stratford: Little Shop of Horrors, Billy Elliot the Musical. Elsewhere: Gary Coleman in Avenue Q (The Arts Club); The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (Centaur Theatre/BTW/National Arts Centre); I Think I'm Fallin' - The Songs of Joni Mitchell (Belfry Theatre); Lady in Orange in for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Soulpepper); Fate in Hadestown (Citadel); The Secret Chord: A Leonard Cohen Experience (Soulpepper); The 27 Club (Soulpepper); The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (National Arts Centre). Film/TV: Minority Report (Fox); Heroes Reborn (NBC); Incorporated (Syfy/CBS); The Boys (Sony/Amazon). Training: Queen's University (BAH); Randolph College. Awards: Jessie Award for Avenue Q; META Award for Adventures of a Black Girl. Online: evangeliakambites.com. Twitter/Instagram: @ekambites. Other: Debut album Feel the Fall available to stream everywhere!
2021: Singer in You Can't Stop the Beat. Fourth season. You are allowed to erase the memories of the people who told you that you were a bad artist. They lied to you. They were wrong. You can help release these voices from your mind by doing exactly what they told you not to do - make Art. When you nurture your artistic interests, the possibilities of self-discovery can be exciting and endless. Sing. Dance. Paint. Play. Create. Anything. A person in our history books once told us that "comparison is the thief of joy." May these words forever wash away the voices that told us that we shouldn't, that we couldn't make Art. Whatever Art means to you, make it. Make it for no other reason than to help you to feel something. You are allowed. You are an artist. ~ Mark
2021: Music director of and Keyboard for You Can't Stop the Beat. 42nd season. Stratford: Music director (selected): Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Show, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music. Composer of numerous productions including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Memoir and Inherit the Wind. Elsewhere: Music director: Rich and Famous (director John Rando), A Christmas Carol (director Carey Perloff) (ACT San Francisco); Oliver!, The Music Man (Citadel Theatre, director Robin Phillips); Brent Carver in Concert (Soulpepper). Composer: I Am My Own Wife (NAC); Don Carlos (Soulpepper); Cyrano (Citadel Theatre); A Streetcar Named Desire (Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia). Awards: 2014 Tyrone Award and five Guthrie Awards (Stratford Festival), two Sterling Awards (Citadel) and nominated for Music Direction (San Francisco Bay Awards).
2021: Drum Kit for You Can't Stop the Beat and Finally There's Sun. 39th season. Stratford: As a drummer and percussionist, David has performed in over 100 productions at the Stratford Festival. Elsewhere: David can be heard on dozens of recording projects playing in all kinds of styles and genres. He's been timpanist for Tafelmusik, Canada's Juno Award-winning and internationally acclaimed period-instrument orchestra, for almost 40 years. He teaches percussion at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and is a regular performer with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and local jazz groups. Et cetera: David has his morning coffee in Stratford at the fabulous revel with Anne, whom he loves and cherishes so very much, and often also with his daughter, Arielle, and son, Dylan, and spouses, Dave and Julie.
2021: Cello, Guitars for You Can't Stop the Beat. Eighth season. Stratford: Shakespeare in Love, The Taming of the Shrew, The Pirates of Penzance, The Grapes of Wrath, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, As You Like It. Elsewhere (selected): The Winter's Tale, Measure for Measure, Lear (Groundling); Once (Neptune); Lombardo, The Pigeon King (Blyth Festival). Recordings: Another Street, Late, The Easy Straight.Previously:Quartetto Gelato (1996 NPR Performance Today Debut Artist of the Year). Online: meanwell.ca; @gmeanwell. Et cetera: "The next best time to plant a tree is now."
Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip.
Curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James WallisDirected by Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
A SHAKESPEARE-INSPIRED MIXTAPE
Shakespeare’s influence on Western culture extends even into your favourite pop hits. Whether it be direct lines from his plays appearing in Top 40 lyrics or whole songs inspired by his plots, whether the borrowers be Taylor Swift, Madonna, Elton John, The Beatles, Prince or Radiohead, Shakespeare is still there, lurking in the mainstream, as cool and as relevant as ever. This lively celebration of terrific tunes affords a great opportunity to introduce a younger audience to Shakespeare’s continuing role in popular culture.
House Program: Play On!
2021: Romeo in Play On! Eighth season. Stratford: Ed Gammidge in The Music Man, Phantom in The Rocky Horror Show, Al in A Chorus Line, Henrik Egerman in A Little Night Music, Rolf Gruber in The Sound of Music, Pinball Lad in Tommy, and appeared in Billy Elliot the Musical, Guys and Dolls, HMS Pinafore, Fiddler on the Roof and Carousel. Elsewhere: Johnny alternate in Green Day's American Idiot (first US tour); Hank Majewski in Jersey Boys (Dancap); Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown). Film/TV: Captain von Trapp in The Pacifier. Training: Etobicoke School of the Arts. Online: Twitter/Instagram: @GabrielNacci. Et cetera: Huge thanks to Stratford and Colin McMurray for this opportunity. Thank you to my wife, Robin Calvert, for being the absolute best. This show is dedicated to his puppy, Sophie.
2021: Richard in Play On! Stratford debut. Jacob MacInnis (they/them) is a Tkaronto-based performer and visual artist. After training for three years at Sheridan College's Music Theatre Performance Program, Jacob has gone on to entertain audiences all over Turtle Island in countless musicals, concerts and cabarets. In 2014 Jacob was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award, and won the Toronto Theatre Critics' Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (James and the Giant Peach, YPT). You can follow Jacob on Instagram @jacobmacinnis, check out their visual art @jacobmacinnisart, or listen to their original music on Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere you listen. Jacob sends love to all the folx at TH, to their family, and to Tucker. #braverthanbrave
2021: Beatrice in Play On! 11th season. Stratford: Ten seasons including Velma Kelly in Chicago, Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Maggie in A Chorus Line, Sally Simpson in Tommy, Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. Elsewhere: Jennifer recently revived the role of Sally Simpson in The Who's Tommy In Concert, performing alongside Pete Townshend at The La Jolla Playhouse. She has also performed on stages across Canada: Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Charlottetown Festival, Grand Theatre, Theatre Aquarius, Drayton Entertainment, Ross Petty Productions. COVID: Jen became a trained lash extension technician during 2020: @thelashroombyjen. Training: Music Theatre Performance (Sheridan), Acting (Red Deer College). Et cetera: Thank you to YOU, the patron, for returning to the theatre. I am filled with gratitude to be a part of the 2021 Stratford season. Love to Robert, Bruce & TH, Mom and Dad.
2021: Co-curator and co-director of Play On! Fourth season. Stratford: Assistant director of Macbeth, Bunny, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. Elsewhere: Director: Romeo and Juliet, Love's Labour's Lost, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Edward II (staged reading), King John, The Changeling (staged reading), Twelfth Night, Volpone (staged reading), Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream (co-director) (Shakespeare BASH'd - also Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director); Shakespeare in Hospitals (Spur of the Moment Collective); As You Like It (Theatre by the Bay); Reasons to Be Pretty (Labute Cycle); Titus Andronicus (Hart House Theatre); Henry IV Part 1 and 2 (Theatre Erindale); The Tom and Gertie Letters Project (Springworks); Pygmalion, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi (Ryerson); Romeo & Juliet (& Joni) (Untitled Productions - co-director workshop). Training: Ryerson Theatre School. Online: @ShakesBASHd; shakespearebashd.com. Et cetera: Thanks to Julia for everything.
2021: Stage manager of Play On! 24th season. Stratford: Stage manager credits (selected): Wendy & Peter Pan (interrupted by COVID), Mother's Daughter, The Matchmaker, Titus Andronicus, Evita, West Side Story. Assistant stage manager credits (selected): Treasure Island, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, South Pacific, The King and I, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing. Elsewhere: Stage manager credits (selected): Ring of Fire, Hana's Suitcase, Annie, Twist and Shout (Grand Theatre); My Fair Lady (Drayton Entertainment). Et cetera: To my loved ones, here and in Shanghai, let's enjoy the adventures.
Production support is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert.
Curated and Directed by Beau Dixon
SPIRIT AND LEGACY OF BLACK MUSIC
From the moment Black people landed on North American soil, their music took root and became the basis or much of the popular music we hear today. There is an endless list of exceptional Black musicians who have been lost to history while their white counterparts gained fame. From church hymnals to the blues, from jazz to rock ’n’ roll, R&B and rap, we owe much of our musical history to Black culture, and it’s time to give credit where it is due.
2021: Singer in Freedom. Second season. Stage/Theatre: A Little Black Lie - Tarragon Theatre; Songs for a New World - Chestnut Street Playhouse; various review shows - Royal Caribbean Productions; Funkentine Rapture (vocal director) - CUNY College; Dream Girls - Brooklyn Parks Department. Film/TV: Lead, Cuckoo (short); lead, A Little White Lie (short); principal, Fatal Attraction (TVOne). Concerts: Up Close and Musical - Stratford Festival, Blockorama - Toronto Pride, Friday Night Live - ROM, Soul in the City - Casa Loma, Beaches Jazz Festival, Capital Pride, Brooklyn Pride, Jamaica Pride, 12.12.12 and Reflections (cabarets) - Triad Theatre, NYC. Opened for: Mary Mary, CeCe Winans, Shawn Desman, Maestro, Keshia Chante, Mya, Big Freda, Nikki Yanofsky. Recordings: Clark Sisters - Lifetime movie; "Running Back to You" and "Encore" featuring Robert Ball - Gfuzion; Need - EP; "Mon Amour" and "Love's All" featuring Robert Ball - Terry Jahz Lewis.
2021: Singer in Freedom. Stratford debut. Soulpepper: Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Wild Woman in Rose. Elsewhere: Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (Charlottetown Festival); various in Spoon River (Signature Centre, NYC). Film/TV: Mysticons, Total Dramarama, Hannibal, Wayne. Radio/Recordings: Narrator in The Journey to Jazz and Human Rights (Jazz FM Radio); Mr. King Dice in Cuphead. Training: University of Windsor Music Theatre Program. Awards: NYF Radio Awards Gold Award for Journey to Jazz and Human Rights and Rose (2020). Online: AlanaBridgewater.ca. Et cetera: Love to NLM, Tanisha and Mom.
2021: Curator, director and music director of and Ensemble, Keyboard in Freedom. Second season. Stratford: Guys and Dolls, HMS Pinafore. Elsewhere: Ghost Quartet (Crow's Theatre); Marjorie Prime, The Father (Coal Mine Theatre); The Colour Purple (Neptune Theatre); Hamlet, Harlem Duet (Tarragon Theatre); Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 27 Club, Secret Chord (Soulpepper Theatre); Motherf@#!er with the Hat (Alberta Theatre Projects); As You Like It/Titus Andronicus (Canadian Stage/Shakespeare in High Park). Film/TV: Untouchable: Power Corrupts (Discovery), Save Me (CBC), The Expanse (Amazon/Alcon), Station 11 (Paramount/HBO). Radio/Recordings: Music director/composer for Pippin 'Reimagined' (Sheridan); composer for The Big Sleep (Vertigo Theatre); sound design/composer for Poison (Coal Mine), Detroit Folk (solo album/independent), From Here to East City (solo album/independent), available on iTunes. Training: Self-taught. Awards: Two Dora Awards, two Toronto Critics Awards, Calgary Critics Award. Online: beaudixon.com. Et cetera: Beau dedicates this season to his family.
2021: Singer in Freedom. Third season. Broadway: The Book of Mormon. Stratford: Slightly in Wendy & Peter Pan, Ensemble in Monty Python's Spamalot, Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors, Ensemble in Billy Elliot the Musical. Regional: Radio in Caroline, or Change (Musical Stage/Obsidian/Winter Garden); Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Ross Petty Panto/Elgin); Home For the Holidays (Big HQ); The Book of Mormon (Chicago, Melbourne); Grease (Irregular Entertainment/Winter Garden); Ghost: The Musical (Drayton Entertainment); Felicia in Queen for a Day: The Musical (April 30th Entertainment); Little Inez in Hairspray (Capitol Theatre). Film/TV: Sleeping Together (FREEFORM), The Boys (Amazon/Sony Pictures TV). Training: Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance from Sheridan Institute. Online: @camilove90. Et cetera: Camille is delighted to be returning to Stratford! She sends love to her mom, family and friends, and the Talent House for their incredible support.
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin and by Sylvia Soyka.
Curated and Directed by Sara Farb and Steve Ross
A CABARET OF RESILIENCE
After their success with The Victory Cabaret and The New Cabaret, Sara Farb and Steve Ross return, along with Noah Beemer and Germaine Konji, to take us on a musical journey through a year of enormous change and growth. They explore the isolation, the loneliness, the upheaval and the unexpected silver linings that came out of a time like no other. Join us to reflect on this “great pause” as we move forward and get back to living freely.
2021: Singer in Finally There's Sun. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer (Talk Is Free Theatre), Lampwick in Pinocchio (Young People's Theatre), Gabriel in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Eclipse Theatre), Macheath in The Threepenny Opera and Gabey in On the Town (Theatre Sheridan). Training: Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance at Sheridan College; Mechanicals Program at Factory Theatre. Et cetera: Noah would like to thank his family and friends as well as the team at Talent House for all their love and support.
2021: Co-curator and co-director of and Singer in Finally There's Sun. Sixth season. Broadway: Delphi in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Stratford: Juliet, Anne Frank, Cordelia, Mary (The Last Wife, The Virgin Trial), Petra (A Little Night Music), Lucy (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Constance (She Stoops to Conquer), Cherry (The Beaux' Stratagem), Jessica (The Merchant of Venice), others. Elsewhere: Medium Alison in Fun Home (Musical Stage/Mirvish, Dora nominee, TTCA winner); Brigid in The Humans (Canadian première at Citadel/Canadian Stage); productions at Soulpepper, Theatre Calgary, Tarragon, Theatre Passe Muraille, Segal Centre, YPT and others. Sara and Britta Johnson's original musical, Kelly v. Kelly, was postponed due to COVID but will hopefully see a full production this coming theatre season. Thanks to the Stratford Festival for providing this opportunity, and to Steve.
2021: Co-curator and co-director of and Singer in Finally There's Sun. 18th season. Stratford: Music Man, Rocky Horror, Guys and Dolls, The Lion, the Witch…, Shakespeare in Love, Hamlet, The Alchemist, Man of La Mancha, Crazy for You, Tommy, Grapes of Wrath, The Misanthrope, Kiss Me, Kate, Cyrano de Bergerac, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, Midsummer Night's Dream, Coriolanus. Elsewhere: goldfish (Here for Now), Every Brilliant Thing, The Foursome, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (New Stages); Fleeto, Oh, the Humanity, 4th Graders (Tiny Room); London Road (Dora Award), Indian Ink, Into the Woods, Dream (Canadian Stage); Assassins (Dora Award) (TIFT); Frog and Toad (MTYP); Orson's Shadow (Pilot Group); A New Brain (Musical Stage Company); Shrek, A Christmas Story (Grand); The Producers (Mirvish/Neptune); Seussical, Sylvia (Aquarius); The Three Musketeers (Chicago Shakespeare); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Citadel); Three Sisters (ATF).
2021: Guitars for Finally There's Sun. Stratford: Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Show, Tommy, Wanderlust, Jesus Christ Superstar. Elsewhere: Drayton: Rock of Ages, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Cinderella: The Panto, Legends of Rock 'n' Roll, Canadian Legends, Little Shop of Horrors, Aladdin: The Panto, Snow White: The Panto, Peter Pan, Sweet Charity, Robin Hood, The Christmas Show. Dave has been a freelance touring and session guitarist, recording engineer, writer, arranger and educator for almost 30 years. Dave holds a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, is a professor at Heritage College in Cambridge, and is Music Director at Nexus in Kitchener. Online: @davethompson.
Production support is generously provided by Jody & Deborah Hamade and by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol.
Two young people are in love. They're next-door neighbours, but their families don't get on. So they're not allowed to meet: all they can do is whisper sweet nothings to each other through a small gap in the garden wall between them. Eventually, they plan to run off together - but on the night of their elopement, a terrible accident of fate impels them both to take their own lives.
Sound familiar? It's the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, as told by the ancient Roman poet Ovid, one of Shakespeare's favourite authors. Most of us know it from the comical play within-the-play in A Midsummer Night's Dream - but it's also essentially the same story Shakespeare told in Romeo and Juliet.
It certainly resonates with us today. We know what it's like to be isolated in our homes, separated from our loved ones, reduced to interacting through online equivalents of a hole in the wall. And we know about other barriers, too: walls of prejudice, mistrust and hatred that can be as fatal as any pandemic.
But there's more to Ovid's story. The blood of the lovers, seeping into the ground, is absorbed by the roots of a mulberry bush - and turns its berries from white to a deep and vibrant red. And with that metamorphosis comes the families' realization of the tragedy their enmity has wrought.
That idea of metamorphosis, of awakening and new growth arising from loss, informs our 2021 season. Our artists, like the rest of us, have been living through a time of seismic shock to their psyches - but it has also been a time of transformative regeneration. It's as if we've been in a cocoon, and now it's time to emerge in a blaze of new colour, with lively, searching work that deals with profound questions and prompts us to think and see in new ways.
While I do intend to program in future seasons all the plays we'd planned to present in 2020, I also know we can't just pick up where we left of. The world has changed; we have changed. Something huge has happened to us and within us. How do we express that together?
In one significant sense, 2021 sees us return to our roots. Two open-sided canopies, one erected at the Festival Theatre and the other on the grounds of the new Tom Patterson Theatre, shelter appropriately distanced seats. Sharing the same visually gorgeous design, these structures enable audiences to gather in safety and comfort in the open air.
But more than that, they bring an inherently festive quality to the season. Just like our original tent in 1953, these new canopies signal that a very special event is taking place here in Stratford: a new artistic beginning.
Meanwhile, we have also been able to make provision for limited-capacity indoor performances at the Studio Theatre. As always, your safety, and the safety of our artists and staff, is our very first priority, and all three of our 2021 venues will operate in strict accordance with public-health guidelines.
But far from placing limitations on our creativity, the need to work within the parameters required of us - with shorter performances, smaller casts (no more than eight actors per show) and physical distancing on stage - has stimulated our artists to new feats of imagination as they devise novel modes of performance. Our 2021 playbill encompasses Shakespeare, music, modern classics and new work, presented in ways you've never seen at Stratford before.
And it's not only the pandemic that has opened us up to new ideas and experiences. The Black Lives Matter protests of last summer brought home to us how far our society still remains from overcoming those other dividing barriers of systemic inequity and oppression. So our playbill celebrates difference as well as universality, widening our definitions both of a classic and of who we are. To learn more about our work on Anti-Racism please read our statement.
The pandemic has taken a dreadful toll, both in lives and in lingering psychological effects. We at the Festival may be powerless against the former, but we have a crucial role to play in addressing the latter. If theatre has anything to teach us, it is about the resilience of the human spirit.
Our new season was born of our determination to emerge from this crisis more inventive, more inclusive and more creative than ever. I hope it will excite you and engage you, bring renewed joy into your life and inspire you as we dream together of a world without walls.
Outstanding theatre presented in a beautiful setting, rich in ancient tradition, that invites communion with friends, moments for reflection and Instagramworthy photos: that's the combination that makes a visit to Stratford such a sublime pleasure.
In 2021, our city's lush parklands become even more of a complement to the artistry on our stages as we mount a season of plays and cabarets under two beautifully designed outdoor canopies. You can enjoy our performances, both indoors and out, safe in the knowledge that the Festival has received the World Travel and Tourism Council's #SafeTravelsStamp, recognizing we have adopted worldwide standards for health and hygiene. On page 20 of our season guide you'll find our duty of care statement that outlines all the measures we're taking to keep you safe at the Stratford Festival this year.
For those of you unable to join us under the canopies this summer, we plan to film and stream our season offerings on our digital platform, STRATFEST@HOME.
Either way, whether you visit us in person or virtually in the comfort of your own home, we look forward to sharing with you the world's best theatre experiences, in a Stratford Festival season like no other.
Our Festival Theatre open-sided canopy will provide a shaded area to protect from rain and direct sunlight. It is a fully accessible outdoor venue. All seats at floor level.
Our Tom Patterson Theatre open-sided canopy will provide a shaded area to protect from rain and direct sunlight. It is a fully accessible outdoor venue. All seats at floor level.
To support our ability to keep you safe, please ensure we have a valid email address on file so that we can keep your informed as our protocols evolve in response to guidance form public health authorities.
We look forward to celebrating the best of live theatre together. Thanks for supporting our efforts to keep guests, performers and staff safe at all times. For our latest updates, visit stratfordfestival.ca/CareCommitment
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