It is a great privilege to gather and share stories on this
beautiful territory, which has been the site of human activity – and therefore
storytelling – for many thousands of years.
This territory is governed by two treaties. The first is the Dish With One
Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant of 1701, made between the Anishinaabe and the
Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an agreement to set violence aside and peacefully
share and care for the land in the Great Lakes basin. The second is the Huron
Tract Treaty of 1827, an agreement made by 18 Anishinaabek Chiefs and the
Canada Company, an agency of the British Crown. As an organization and a
company of artists, we at the Stratford Festival are in a process of learning
how we can be better treaty partners.
We wish to honour the ancestral guardians of this land and its waterways: the
Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Attiwonderonk. Today
many Indigenous peoples continue to call this land home and act as its
stewards, and this responsibility extends to all peoples, to share and care for
this land for generations to come.
Festival acknowledges its history of colonizing culture and is working
diligently to understand its complicity in unjust systems that have excluded
many from participating fully in the work on our stages. We are committed to
continuously evolving our understanding of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism
and we acknowledge that the work of reconciliation is an ongoing journey. The
Conservatory seeks to create a respectful environment of learning and exchange where
every participant is asked to embrace an inclusive learning experience with an
openness of heart and humility and where all those that lead are open to
program is actively looking to partner with artists, actors and theatre makers
whose talent, energy, commitment and creativity will shape the future of the
theatre both at the Festival and across the country.
*this is a living document:
the information on this site will continually be updated as the work evolves
present artistic circles, the use of the word “Conservatory” can refer to an
imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal desire to conserve the exclusionary
practices of the past. However, as the Stratford Festival consciously works to
recognize its involvement with these practices, our objective is to employ the
word “Conservatory” to refer to an incubator and sanctuary for tender plants, a
place where they may flourish and grow, a place where they can establish
program is devoted to the development of craft required to tackle text and
language-based plays through material rich in character, storytelling, song,
dance, fights and challenging themes. Shakespeare will be at the centre of the
exploration, but not to the exclusion of other culturally rich material. And,
in keeping with the spirit of the Festival’s Laboratory, there will be an open
engagement with both traditional and non-conventional approaches to the work.
will also be a focus to support the development of the artist’s own voice and work:
members of the program will have access to the Festival’s numerous resources in
the areas of mentorship, as well as archives, playwriting department, Laboratory
program, costume warehouse and rehearsal space.
is not an introductory training program: it is designed for artists who have acquired
a foundational training (either from a theatre school, or a non-conventional,
experiential learning process) and have two to five years of professional
experience. The Birmingham Conservatory
is a paid two-year intensive where artists are invited to further develop their
craft alongside and within the professional environment of the Festival’s
ensemble allows for ten participating artists: eight places are open to actors
(including musical theatre performers who have a desire to focus specifically
on developing their craft of acting); and two places open to directors, designers, coaches and/or multi-disciplinary theatre artists
(who have a desire to focus on language-based material and its demands).
The invitation is such that
all artists fully commit to the journey of the training, both in the season and
in the studio work. Therefore, participants must be interested and available to
make the entire two-year commitment as the Festival commits to their
OUTLINE OF THE PROGRAM
First-year - 2022
There will be a three-week Intensive prior to the beginning of rehearsals which will include:
The Binge: an introduction to the Festival and community Arrivals Legacy Project: Led by Diane Roberts and an interdisciplinary co-facilitation team, will engage ensemble members in an exploration of their root cultural voice/bodies drawn from Ancestral sources. In creating an intercultural ensemble we are called to the question: how do we sound the legacies we carry and those we must leave behind?
Combat and Intimacy Intensive: led by company Fight Director Anita Nittoly and members of her team.
This intensive will vary for the non-acting participants.
March – October
During the first season actors will have a role(s) and understudy roles. They will also receive individual and group instruction in voice, movement, the Alexander Technique, singing and text. Training goals in these disciplines will be driven by the artists. Note: the actors will be involved in two productions (not the traditional three) in this season.
Depending upon the discipline, the non-acting participants will have other offers in the season. (Directors will be employed as assistant directors, designers as assistant designers, etc.)
Focused instruction will be given to the understudy responsibilities contracted for the acting participants. Understudying is a vital part of a repertory company and the demands are a learning opportunity within the program.
Close of the Festival season
November – December
The structure of the studio training will be project - and not term-based:
At the end of the season, artists return to the studio (the rehearsal hall) for six weeks, during which time they will focus on two small exercises (Neutral Mask with David Latham; Movement with Pulga Muchochoma) and rehearse Ted Hughes's adaptation of Agamemnon with Jonathan Goad (directing) and Adrienne Gould (movement direction).
Once again, depending upon the discipline, the non-acting participants will have other opportunities to engage. (Directors may work as assistants, or choose to act; designers would have the opportunity to design for the in-studio projects, etc.)
December – January
Three to four weeks away from the Festival.
Second year - 2023
January – February
Artists return to studio
training, after a month away from the Festival. During this six-week period,
Yvette Nolan will lead the work and direct her adaptation of The Birds.
March – October
In their second season,
artists will be featured in a production. In addition, they will be cast in two
additional productions and will once again receive individual coaching
throughout the course of the repertory season.
October – November
One week to ten days away
from the Festival.
November – December
In the final
six weeks, artists return to the studio to rehearse a production (with
non-acting participants contributing in their fields). This production will be
presented in one of the theatres.
21 weeks of in-studio work;
70 weeks of in-season work
the acting participants: the primary focus of the studio training is centred on
the foundational work of voice (including singing), movement and text work
which will be delivered in both individual tutorials, group classes, scene
study and in-studio production exercises.
the non-acting participants: participation in the voice, movement and text work
in the studio training is required. In addition to these studies, individual
instruction and mentorship will be coordinated individually and centred in the
area of specialization. For example, directors will be mentored and work as
assistant directors (both in the studio and season), likewise, designers will
be employed as assistant designers, coaches as apprentice coaches, etc.
CIRCLES OF LEADERSHIP
The Circles of
Leadership support, inform and direct both the content of the program and
manner in which the program will be delivered. All artists participating in the
Circles of Leadership (whether directly or indirectly) are involved in supporting
the artists of the program.
Director – Antoni Cimolino
Guides the artistic
direction of the Festival, including the vision and direction of the
Director – tba
In addition to teaching
and coaching, the Director serves as a facilitator to the work of the program
Director's Office –
Work to fulfill the
artistic direction of the Festival, including the Conservatory
Anita Gaffney, Executive Director
Bonnie Green, Associate Producer
Jason Miller, Creative Planning Director
Beth Russell and Jennifer Emery, Casting Director and Casting Assistant
Bob White, Director of the Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program
Franklin Brasz, Director of Music
ted witzel, Artistic Associate
Julie Miles, Associate Producer, Forum
Shira Ginsler, Producing Coordinator
Director of Human Resources, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and the Company Manager –
Work to create a healthy,
safe and inclusive work environment for all Festival members
tba, Director of Human Resources
tba, Director of Education, Diversity, and Inclusion
Hilary Nichol, Company Manager
Artistic Advisors – Walter Borden, David Latham, Yvette Nolan
artistic elders have tremendous experience and wisdom. They are resources in
teaching, directing and leading conversations regarding the work.
Associate Artists – Raoul Bhaneja, Esther Jun, Thomas
Olajide, Lucy Peacock, Steve Ross, Michaela Washburn, plus two non-actor
associates (depending on the two non-acting participants).
These artists (from both
inside and outside of the company) are involved in advising and supporting the
leadership and speaking to the direction of the Conservatory, providing
feedback on the work, participating in short-term teaching, and mentoring
artists in the program.
Developing Teachers and Coaches – Lisa Cromarty, Martha Farrell
These mid-career artists
will have the opportunity to develop their pedagogical skills (in specific
areas: eg. voice, movement, text) chosen mentor opportunity to work alongside a
chosen mentor (who is teaching or directing in the program).
Directors, Master Teachers, Teachers and Coaches –
great teacher is a facilitator: one who walks alongside, one who nurtures, not
one who wishes to mould the artist in their own image.
Raoul Bhaneja (Associate Artist)
Walter Borden (Artistic Advisor)
Lisa Cromarty (Emerging coach - voice)
Paul de Jong (Head of Coaching)
Martha Farrell (Emerging Coach - voice)
Jonathan Goad (director)
Adrienne Gould (movement/period dance/movement direction)
Esther Jun (Associate Artist)
David Latham (Artistic Advisor)
K. Cathy MacKinnon (Head of Voice)
Pulga Muchochoma (dance/movement)
Anita Nittoly (fight/intimacy director)
Yvette Nolan (Artistic Advisor)
Thomas Olajide (Associate Artist)
Lucy Peacock (Associate Artist)
Diane Roberts (Arrivals Legacy Project)
Steve Ross (Associate Artist)
Jennie Such (singing)
Michaela Washburn (Associate Artist)
Members of the acting company
Members of the coaching team
The company (actors, stage managers, crew, artisans, etc.) all play a role in nurturing and supporting the Conservatory artists.
These actors are not our actors.
They are the youth of the Theatre’s longing
They come through us but not from us,
And though they are with us yet they belong
not to us.
We may give them our guidance but not our
For they have their own thoughts.
We may provide space for their work but
must not stifle their souls,
For their souls dwell in the theatre of
tomorrow, which we cannot visit, not even in our dreams.
We may strive to be like them, but must not
seek to make them like us.
For the theatre goes not backwards nor
tarries with yesterday.
We can be the bow from which these artists
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of
the infinite, and
They bend us with their might that their
arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for
For even as the archer loves the arrow that
flies, so they love also the bow that is stable.
-adapted from Kahlil Gibran’s poem On Children
The community and
surrounding area provide the program with an opportunity to explore and
participate in experiences outside of the Stratford Festival.
their time in residence, the artists will be introduced to numerous arts
organizations: The Stratford Symphony Orchestra, innerChamber, Gallery
Stratford, Stratford Summer Music, The Grand Theatre in London, The Blyth
Festival, etc. In addition, relationships will be encouraged to community
organizations like The Local Community Food Centre – where volunteering at a
community meal and/or working in the gardens are possibilities.
Our History and Our Future:
the Festival’s inaugural season in 1953 there has been a commitment to provide
training for artists and artisans alike. This commitment was initially driven
by the fact that there were no professional training programs in Canada at that
time. If one wished to study as an actor, technician or designer, they were
required to seek training abroad. Frances Hyland travelled from her small
village of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, to train at RADA in the UK, Patricia
Hamilton from Regina to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. Therefore, when the
National Theatre School opened its doors in Montreal in 1960 it was an
auspicious occasion for Canadian artists. Initially there was a unique bond
between the Festival and “the school” as both French and English sections spent
the final term of their school year in Stratford learning alongside the
professional company. Eventually this in-house apprenticeship concluded as
other training institutions were created across the country.
So, over the Festival’s 68
years the artistic leadership has supported the continued development of its
company: the great actress Eleanor Stuart taught voice to Kenneth Welsh, James
Blendick, Diana Leblanc; the legendary Gwynneth Thurburn taught workshops in
voice and text; Powys Thomas and Neil Dainard ran the Actors Workshop; Iris
Warren taught voice and text for many seasons before her protégé Kirstin
Linklater arrived; Kristin trained voice teachers Ann Skinner, Lloy Coutts and
David Smukler; and later returned to lead the Third Stage Company (1984),
nurturing artists like Seana McKenna and Fiona Reid; Michael Langham developed
the first young company (1985) that included Lucy Peacock and Ted Dykstra; Tom
Kerr’s company (1986) included artists Kim Coates and Jerry Etienne; Robin
Phillips (1987-88) supported artists Peter Donaldson and Nancy Palk; artistic
director John Hirsch invited Patsy Rodenburg to coach voice and text; Bernard
Hopkins’s young company (1989-1991) included Antoni Cimolino and Dathan B.
Williams; Marti Maraden’s company included Thom Allison and Marcel Jeannin;
Richard Rose’s company included Jane Spidell and Kevin Bundy; and the John
Sullivan Hayes program
for Theatre Training (1997-98) included Graham Abbey and Claire Jullien. In
1999, Artistic Director Richard Monette and master teacher Michael Mawson
established a Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training, which, for the next
twenty years, under the direction of David Latham, Martha Henry and Stephen
Ouimette, included such artists as (link tba) Evan Buliung, Michelle
Giroux, Michael Therriault, Kennedy (Cathy) MacKinnon (coach), Deborah Hay,
Haysam Kadri, Caleb Marshall, Paul de Jong (coach), Sara Topham, Dan Chameroy,
Dion Johnstone, Laura Condlln, Sophia Walker, Danielle Irvine (director),
Nicolas Billon (playwright), Keira Loughran, André Sills, Raquel Duffy, Ins
Choi, Chilina Kennedy, Paul Nolan, Josue Laboucane, Shannon Taylor, Jessica B.
Hill, Antoine Yared, Sara Farb, Saamer Usmani, Monice Peter, Rodrigo Beilfuss, Nick
Nahwegahbow, Ijeoma Emesowum, Farhang Ghajar, Andrea Rankin and Amaka Umeh.
We acknowledge that there were many
storytellers on Turtle Island (both from Indigenous and settler cultures) who,
for hundreds and thousands of years, shared their stories prior to the founding
of the Stratford Festival. With gratitude to all of these contributors, the
artistic leadership continues to support the natural and necessary evolution of
training: one that is inclusive of all artists – reflecting the colour and
culturally rich times of the moment and our future.
Conservatory Alumni - tba