DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE
2017 season tickets go on sale to the general public online on Friday, January 6. Then, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 7, you can buy tickets in person at our Festival Theatre Box Office or by phone at 1.800.567.1600.
Next season, be prepared to be dazzled when the Avon Theatre is transformed into a fantastical world of seafaring treasure hunts, pirates and exhilarating escapades! Director Mitchell Cushman gives us a preview of just some of the fun in store with Treasure Island.
"I am very excited to present a world première of a new adaptation by Nicolas Billon," he says. "Nick is one of the most vibrant voices working in Canadian theatre today, and he brings a palpable sense of adventure to the work.
"This Festival commission is being written to connect with a brand new generation of theatregoers, premised on the idea that they will be able to lose themselves and disappear into the story - just like you would when you are reading a great book. It is a production designed to make the audience into the protagonist."
Based on the beloved adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island is a timeless coming-of-age tale that will appeal not only to young people but also to everyone else in the family.
"I very much want this to be a wonderful experience for audiences of all ages," says Mr. Cushman. "Just like a Pixar movie, there will be something compelling on stage for everyone. The universal themes of exploration and discovery will appeal to the adventure-loving kid in all of us. I think that boys and girls will be equally enthralled and transported by the story."
In his casting, Mr. Cushman has chosen Festival favourite Juan Chioran to play the iconic role of Long John Silver. "Long John is one of those irresistible characters who must at all times be infinitely charming both to young Jim Hawkins and the audience alike. Juan is the perfect actor to play all of the necessary sharp angles to keep everyone under his spell.
"Thomas [Mitchell] Barnet is going to shine as Jim. He received a lot of great attention for his small roles in last year's Shakespeare in Love and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - and he's one of those amazing rare performers who can completely embody the spirit of a much younger person and channel it in exciting directions."
A classic adventure viewed through a 2017 lens
Although true to the original story, great care has been taken in creating a gender balance on stage in this production of Treasure Island.
"Making her Stratford debut will be one of Canada's foremost silk performers, Katelyn McCulloch, taking on the part of Ben Gunn," says Mr. Cushman. "Normally, that is a role played by an old man - but Katelyn's character is a young woman who lives in the trees, and this will give her a wonderful opportunity to show off her incredible aerial circus skills.
"As well, the central role of Dr. Livesey will be played by Sarah Dodd. I want young girls in the audience to be equally enthralled and invested in the adventure - and there will also be plenty of female pirates who are every bit as entertaining and scary as their male counterparts!"
As is mandatory with any great adventure story, the look of the show will be breathtaking and exciting. "Our set will be based on an innovative skeletal design that keeps on transforming and shifting as the tale unfolds. We really want to make use of the height of the space at the Avon Theatre: a great deal of the magic will happen from a platform unseen by the audience, located just behind the top of the proscenium. It will allow for some terrific special effects to be created from above."
Immersing young people fully into the theatrical experience will be key. "While the adults receive the standard house programs, children will be given their very own treasure maps as they take their seats," says Mr. Cushman. "They will also have an opportunity to be invited up onto the stage by Billy Bones to help him look out for pirates.
"We have plenty of other fun ideas too, but I don't want to give them all away. Suffice it to say, there will be lots of thrills, excitement and surprises along the way for everyone in Treasure Island!"
Treasure Island is the 2017 Schulich Children's Play.
Returning for her 23rd season, Donna Feore is well loved by Stratford audiences for her stellar direction and choreography of such musicals as A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music, Crazy for You and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as for her 2009 production of the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Excited by the twofold challenge of directing and choreographing the iconic Guys and Dolls as well as directing The Madwoman of Chaillot, she tells us a little about what audiences can look forward to in these wildly different productions.A golden-age musical
"Guys and Dolls is often called a perfect musical comedy," says Ms Feore. "It has the perfect balance of three essential ingredients: great style, perfect form and a terrific score with iconic songs.
"The things that give it such amazing staying power are its original plot lines and the sexy, funny characters - both the male and female roles are equally strong and quirky. Sarah and Miss Adelaide are independent women with good careers. Men don't pay their way and they're nobody's fools: they don't actually need men - or at least there's no big hurry for them.
"That's all down to the brilliance of Damon Runyon's original stories. The characters are fleshed out and very human. We see ourselves in them; and when the emotional stakes get high, it doesn't seem dated and we're invested in their happiness."
Ms Feore takes joy in working closely with her extraordinarily talented casts to create a real sense of community. She wants everyone on stage to have a strong purpose and a full backstory, so that the performers and the audiences form an authentic relationship with the characters - no matter how large or small the role.
"Again, it comes down to the genius in the writing," she explains. "These are all big, full characters who can be created and reinvented time and again by performers with very human hearts. The jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, and they actually further the plot, which is rare in musicals.
"The script is filled with that uniquely Runyon-esque style of communicating and forming sentences. The American tough-guy vernacular of the earlier part of the 20th century is fun to listen to, and yet it's still relevant. The theme is so simple: no matter who you are or how you love, we all ultimately want the same thing - love and happiness."
Audiences of all ages will thrill to the fabulous dance numbers Ms Feore and her cast have in store. "It's a big, episodic dance show with a variety of locations, and it will all be original choreography. Whether we're in the urban landscape of New York City's golden age or in a sexy nightclub in Havana, the thrust of the Festival Theatre stage will immerse the audience and make them accomplices in the story."
Ms Feore sees Guys and Dolls as a period piece that helps celebrate the evolution of women. "The 'guys' and 'dolls' are on equal footing, and in the end they all get what they want. But there are relevant things in the show which I hope provoke conversation: by giving in to the extremes of either high morality or sin, the danger is that one could end up living a diminished life.
"We need balance between the two. We need to take a chance and err on the side of trust, or life may pass us by - but you still have to be careful or you may end up with 'an earful of cider,' as Sky Masterson points out!"A topical, fantastical fairy-tale
Opening in August at the Tom Patterson Theatre, The Madwoman of Chaillot will be a completely different offering from Guys and Dolls. One of the most exciting things about this production for Ms Feore is the opportunity to work on the world première of a new translation commissioned by the Festival.
"David Edney is a fantastic choice for creating this version of the play," she explains. "David lives in Paris half of the time, so he intimately understands the culture of the place and is beautifully fluent in the language. Playwright Jean Giraudoux left behind a few reworked versions, but died soon after he wrote the play and never saw it staged. David is returning to the original and best version.
"He is keeping it very much in its period to give it that bit of distance and maintain the 'Once upon a time' feel to the piece. That gives him great poetic licence: the danger in updating it is that it would lose its colourful sense of outdoor café culture fantasy."
The storyline is very simple - and very timely: a group of cold-hearted business sharks driven by personal profit want to drill for oil beneath Paris. The quirky Aurélie, known as "the Madwoman of Chaillot" (played by Seana McKenna), and her quirky circle of vagabond friends, spurred on by the Ragman (Scott Wentworth), foil their nefarious plot in a series of seemingly improvised counterattacks. With its themes of environmental destruction and financial greed, the play resonates strongly with today's world headlines.
"Guys and Dolls is often called a perfect musical comedy"
"Cultural values are in danger of being forced out by corporate choices," says Ms Feore. "David calls this play 'an amusing romp in a world of fantasy, and a bitter analogy with our present reality.' One of the Broker's lines - a direct translation from Giraudoux's original - says, 'Just take your money and put it over here. There are lots of loopholes so you won't have to pay any tax.'
"But for all the parallels with our current situation, it isn't a heavy play full of existential anguish. Instead, it's a political and poetical satire that is fantastical, feminist and very funny. The Madwoman masks her sanity behind her deadpan craziness, using her fantasy life to insulate herself in the face of relentless greed. This is a piece first written and performed under Nazi occupation. Nowadays, we have the freedom to explore and play."
With the play being performed in the round, the audience will be "on the hook," she adds. "It will have a kind of three-ring circus atmosphere. The audience won't actually be interactive, but they will be very much present with the action. I want to surround the Prospector, Broker and President with a kooky world of circus, so that the Madwoman and her crazy extended entourage can torment them in the round."
As with Guys and Dolls, the characters will form a strong sense of community to draw in their audience. "I am lucky to have such a wonderful cast for both shows. The relationships between the Madwoman and her equally mad female circle are a joy to watch, and the Ragman is a very important character. The businessmen dismiss him as being just some homeless guy, but he teaches us that we should never judge a book by its cover. Ultimately, he is the one who holds the big businessmen's feet to the fire and helps to decide their fates."
Production Co-Sponsors, Guys & Dolls: RBC Royal Bank and UnionGas Ltd.
Production support for Guys & Dolls is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, by Riki Turofsky & Charles Petersen and by Catherine & David Wilkes
Production support for The Madwoman of Chaillot is generously provided by Bob & Martie Sachs and by Alice & Tim Thornton
Falling behind on your seasonal shopping? No problem! Our Gift Certificates are available in any denomination, making them the perfect present for everyone on your list.
They can be used in an almost endless number of ways to tailor-make a gift to the lucky recipient's own individual taste. Best of all, they can be delivered right to your door - nothing could be easier!
Gift Certificates can be redeemed for:• Theatre tickets
• Membership donations
• Warehouse, garden and backstage tours
• Specialty items from our Stratford Festival Shops
For guaranteed holiday delivery by standard mail, order online at stratfordfestival.ca/giftcertificates or call 1.800.567.1600 by December 8. You can also purchase in person at the Festival Theatre Box Office until December 24 at 2 p.m.
"Words, words, words." Books are perfect for everyone on your holiday gift list, or as a special way to pass some quiet hours on a cold winter's day. Drop by our shop to browse in person, or search online through our great selection of theatre and Shakespeare-related books for readers of all ages.
Click on the titles below for more information - or to order!Stories inspired by ShakespeareThe Hogarth Shakespeare series is a must-have collection of books for any Shakespeare lover. Hogarth Press offers several beloved modern novelists' new and surprising retellings of his greatest works - including Margaret Atwood's Hagseed, her brilliant spin on The Tempest.
Shakespeare for young people
For readers aged 7 to 12, check out Romeo and Juliet for Kids. This is one of a popular series of retellings by local Stratford educator Lois Burdett, full of illustrations by her students. A great way to engage kids with the story!
It's never too early to introduce your toddler to the magic world of Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet: A BabyLit Counting Primer. With clever, simple counting text by Jennifer Adams, paired with stylish design and illustrations by Alison Oliver, this BabyLit book is a fashionable way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature.
Laugh yourself into stitches
Lighten the mood with some hilarious takes on Shakespearean themes!
The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets.
Weary of commonplace swearwords? Give your foul language a literary twist and Create Your Own Shakespearean Insults!Next season's playlist
Get ready for our thrilling line-up of productions next season! Whether you're new to some of the plays or just need a refresher, we have excellent editions of scripts and study guides available.
Oxford World's Classics offers an excellent annotated Twelfth Night. If you want a bit more help, the No Fear Shakespeare version gives you the complete text of Twelfth Night on the left-hand page, side-by-side with an easy-to-understand translation on the right.
The Shakespeare Handbooks series provides an introductory guide to one of Middleton and Rowley's most widely studied plays, The Changeling. If you're a fan of the darker side of English theatre, try this fantastic trilogy of scripts from Penguin Classics: Three Revenge Tragedies: The Revenger's Tragedy; The White Devil; The Changeling.
Brush up on your Euripides with Anne Carson's powerful new translation of Bakkhai. Or delve into the Greek master's collected works with Complete Euripides: Bakkhai and Other Plays Volume IV.
Oxford's World's Classics has a lovely volume of Sheridan's frothy comedies: The School for Scandal and Other Plays.
No theatre lover's library is complete without Molière! We have an excellent collection available for you: Tartuffe and Other Plays.
Treasure for all ages
The Penguin English Library edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island is a must-read ahead of next season's onstage adventures. Younger aspiring seafarers will love exploring illustrator Steve Horrocks's picture-book version.
Come on in!
This is just a small taste of what we have in store! Please drop by the Stratford Festival Shop next to the Avon Theatre at 99 Downie Street in Stratford to browse through our large selection of wonderful books, DVDs, puzzles, games, jewellery and theatrical gift ideas. Or explore our virtual shop online or call us at 1-800-561-1233, ext. 5580.
The first six productions from our acclaimed HD Shakespeare series - King Lear, King John, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew and The Adventures of Pericles - are now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Get them from the Avon Theatre Shop or online at stratfordfestival.ca/shop.
The perfect holiday gift for all the theatre fans on your list!
Stratford Festival HD is sponsored by Sun Life Financial as part of their Making the Arts More Accessible™ program.
Support for Stratford Festival HD is generously provided by Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, the Jenkins Family Foundation, the Henry White Kinnear Foundation, Ophelia & Mike Lazaridis, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, the Slaight Family Foundation, Robert & Jacqueline Sperandio, and an anonymous donor.
The Festival also acknowledges the generous support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Canadian distribution is through Cineplex Events, which specializes in bringing world-class events and performances to the big screen.
U.S. and international distribution is through SpectiCast, the fastest-growing event cinema marketing and distribution company in the world.
Canadian cinema screenings will be followed by a broadcast window on CBC-TV, Canada's national public broadcaster.
Agora Gallery and the Stratford Festival have teamed up to bring you a wonderful new exhibition for the holiday season.After the Curtain Call: A Celebration of Stratford Festival Artists includes drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and textile pieces by many artists who have worked behind the scenes at the Stratford Festival, including Ruth Abernethy, Ann Baggley, Susan Benson, Mary-Jo Carter Dodd, Glenn Elliott, Ian Harper, Carolyn Horley, Lisa Hughes, Kevin Kemp, Chris Klein, Karen Mills, John Pennoyer, Cameron Porteous, Kathi Posliff, Heather Ruthig, Janet Shearn, Michael Wharran and Blair Yeomans.
On display until December 24, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see what all these artistic people spend their time creating - after the curtain call. Located at 17 Market Place in Stratford, Agora Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit agoragallery.ca or call 519.508.8700.